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Tips for Parents

Parents, below are three articles that will help you prepare for your child's transition to college.  The first discusses some intangibles your child will need for college success, the second lists some tips to help you and your child through the transition, and the third identifies what you can expect during college.

Keys to Academic Success

Surprisingly, “academic success” often has more to do with non-academic issues than what most people expect. Certainly standard aspects such as regular class attendance, research, writing skills, and passing tests remain critical for success; but if you define success in terms of actually earning a degree experts report that for many students academic prowess is not the only key to college success! (Statistically speaking the national graduation rate is 55 %!)  Based on my years of professional experience in higher education, I have seen that successful college students must regularly exercise the following attributes:

  • Self Awareness…. This is the key to success in any professional field and it is equally as essential in earning a college degree.  It has everything to do with the school students choose, the major they are drawn to, and ultimately the career they select.  Students who are reflective and seek personal awareness are far more likely to make good decisions about all aspects of their academic life.
  • Goal Setting….Again, one typically associates the habit of goal setting to the work place, but it has equal application to the academic achievement of students as well.  Research bears out that students who effectively set goals are far more likely to distinguish themselves academically.   While professors are experts in their particular fields, they typically do not work with students to set goals. A college degree is an accumulation of many things academic, but the “vehicle” a student rides to get that degree is one based upon the necessity of goal setting. 
  • Action Plans…. Goals without a plan of action are merely words on paper.  In order for students to be successful in actually achieving their personal and academic goals, they need to have a specific plan of attack.  It is not necessary for this plan to be a volume of work.  It can be something as elementary as “today I will complete all homework assignments before mid-night.”  This gives viability to the goals so that students have a way to see that tangible progress is being made toward their ultimate goal of graduation.
  • Resourcing….  Quite possibly one of the most underappreciated aspects of a college education is the benefit of developing the ability to access resources.  At its very core education is a resource, one that lasts for a life time. Students who understand this are far more capable of achieving success in the classroom and in life pursuits.  The multi-facets of available resources (academic, social, curriculum, experiential, community, personnel, etc.) from which students may benefit once they develop the ability to access those resources.
  • Accountability…..  One of the centerpieces of the college experience is the essence of personal “freedom” it represents for students.  At first glance “accountability” may appear somewhat counter-intuitive.  However, we all know that ultimately accountability is central to freedom and for students to truly experience the freedoms (academically, personally, socially, etc.) associated with the life of a college student, accountability is a necessity. Accountability comes in many forms, but it underscores the ultimate value of the education a student is pursuing.  Students with a healthy level of accountability realize the importance of their academic pursuits by the level to which they are accountable.

Although there is no magic pill that guarantees college success, college professionals understand that the above list of attributes are foundational keys.  When appropriately applied they will render students much more equipped in their of a college degree. 

...Chris Turner, Ph.D., ULifeCoach (www.ulifecoach.com) ULifeCoach offers college students individualized professional coaching to help them successfully navigate the college landscape.



 Countdown to College 

The transition from high school to college can be as challenging for parents as it is for their college-bound children. Here are some tips for parents who are preparing their child for college.

Expect the unexpected.

Your child will vacillate between many emotions. She may alternate between wanting to be close and pushing you away. Remember that your child is probably torn between sadness about leaving home and excitement about the adventures ahead.

Encourage independence--but offer support.

It can be tempting to do too much for your child, especially in the light of his upcoming departure. Restrain yourself from handling college arrangements for him. If your child has a question about the college, encourage him to contact the appropriate office himself. After all, your child will soon need to be responsible for dealing with the college bureaucracy himself.

"Additionally, parents should support students' decision-making about the courses they plan to take and the activities they plan to be involved in—rather than make those decisions for their sons and daughters," says Marcy Kraus, director of orientation programs at the University of Rochester. "On more than one occasion I've heard a student tell me that his mom or dad picked his fall courses for him--this is often not a good idea!"

The balance between offering support and taking over can be difficult to maintain. Students themselves may want your advice sometimes and reject your advice at other times. During this time of changing roles, good communication—and a sense of humor—are essential.

Form an informal support group.

Other parents of college-bound children can be invaluable. They can reassure you that you're not alone and give you a "reality check" about your child's possibly erratic behavior (their children are probably acting in a similar way). You can share ideas for making your children's last summer home a meaningful one. And after your child leaves for college, you can support each other as your way of life changes.

Help your child say good-bye.

Encourage your child to spend time with family and friends over the summer. Be there to talk when your child comes home from saying good-bye to a high school friend. Have some family get-togethers.

"Make occasions to restate your love, concerns, and respect for your child," says John Boshoven, counselor for continuing education at Community High School (MI) and director of college counseling at the Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit.

Make plans for communication.

Discuss with your child ways to communicate with you while she's at college. Many parents enjoy receiving e-mails from their college-aged children, and students often prefer this method of communication because it allows them to reach out to you on their timetable. If you'd like a weekly phone call, make that clear to your child. Once she's at college, ask her when it would be easiest to get her on the phone. Also, expect the frequency of communication to vary. Some kids get swept away by the activities of college life and neglect communication with their family. Others may call every day until they feel more at ease in their new life. It depends on the personality and college experiences of your child.

Plan the big day.

If possible, give your child some latitude about whether you accompany him to the campus. If you accompany your child, be flexible. Talk with your child ahead of time about your plans and expectations.

Once on campus, brace yourself for the brush-off. Many first-year students are eager to start their new lives sans parents. Your child may be ready for you to leave before you're ready to go. On the other hand, some students unexpectedly cling to their parents. Again, it depends on your child's personality.

One good idea is to leave your child to unpack with his roommate(s) while you run to the store to pick up any necessities. That gives your child some time to himself before a possibly emotional departure. Many colleges now offer parent orientations, which give parents some information about the college and its programs. This can be reassuring to anxious parents—and can give you the tools to guide your child in case of problems in those first weeks.

Give yourself time.

Home may seem very different without your child. If you have other children at home, remember that siblings will also go through a period of adjustment. And give yourself time to adjust to daily life without your college-aged child. You may grieve for a time or have a sense of time passing too quickly (or slowly). This is when talking to other parents can be especially helpful. In time, both you and your child will adjust to her being at college--just in time for your child to return for the holidays!

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2001. National Association for College Admission Counseling



 

What to Expect During College

 What can you expect from your student and college life?
Although you've lived with a student for quite some time now, college is likely to offer new (and maybe unexpected) opportunities and challenges not only for your student, but also for your relationship. To be sure, the demands of college are rigorous and impact many dimensions of the student’s life. This section is devoted to offering information about what your student may be experiencing, helping you understand the changing nature of your relationship with your student, and provide some suggestions in coping.

In college, your student may experience:

  • encouragement toward independence and an increase in freedom at school,
    the full responsibility of their own education,
  • frustrations with the administrative processes,
  • new demands on his/her time (both study time and personal time),
  • differences in course scheduling (they may not be in class all day or everyday),
  • the desire to try something new or radically different from previous interests,
  • significant differences in relationships with instructors,
    the necessity to actively manage (and increase) study time to achieve the same grade,
  • new anxieties about their abilities or future plans,
  • less interaction with you and the school or instructors,
  • changes in classroom, testing, and grading procedures, and
  • changes in instructor expectations

How will this impact me?
These experiences are a normal and expected part of your student’s development. Because of these new experiences, the nature of your relationship with your student is likely to change. While each relationship is different, you might be aware of some of these changes:

  • As the university encourages independence and views your student as an adult, LSUS will deal directly with your student. You can expect to be less directly involved with the school.
  • As your student begins to become more independent, you might expect strong negative reaction to your suggestions.
  • As your student faces new challenges or defeats, you might also expect a need for more verbal reassurance.
  • In adjusting to the demands of college, you might expect differences in your student’s involvement at home and with family.
  • As your student finds his/her own way, you may also experience an unusual mixture of emotions: fear, pride, frustration, abandonment, joy, etc.

What can I do about it?
Know that despite all the changes your relationship may experience, your student continues to need your love, respect, and support. The challenge will be in discovering new avenues and expressions for this love and respect:

  • It is important to remember that it may take your student some time to adjust to the rigors of these new academic demands. Be patient with them and assist in problem-solving when they are ready.
  • Encourage your student to discuss the decisions confronting them and the implications of each decisions.
  • Allow your student to make their own decisions and let him/her know that you will be supportive even if the results are not ideal.
  • Try to take a “wait and see” attitude toward a new venture.
  • Because of the significant demands of college work, support and encourage good study habits without being too directive. You may be able to adjust household chores to make up for additional time required by school.
  • Help your student view this time of life as a discovery phase, which is normal and exciting.
  • Give freedom to learn how to cope with the new environment.
  • In the face of frustrations and failures, give encouragement and support to keep trying to do well.
  • Encourage your student to be involved in a few meaningful leadership roles on campus
  • Encourage your student to network with a variety of people

Student Development and Counseling Center, LSU in Shreveport