Tips for Parents

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Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable College Transition

The transition to college can not only be stressful for students but also for parents and families as they learn how to support their student without guiding them every step of the way. The following tips may assist you during this transition.

  • Be Patient and Prepared: The transition to college doesn’t just happen overnight. It can take up to two years for students to feel totally comfortable with college expectations and lifestyle. It is important to understand that your student will have many experiences, mostly good but some bad.  You should prepare for the difficult, stressful situations so that you can offer support while your student works through these new experiences.
     
  • Don’t Hold Their Hand Every Step of the Way: During the stressful periods of college, your student may call to complain about a particular problem or situation, hoping you, as the caretaker, will solve it for them.  You should offer support and acknowledge that there is a problem, but try to refrain from providing a solution. Instead try saying, “Wow, that sounds (difficult, hard, challenging, rough, etc.), let me know how it works out.” This will help your student develop independence so they won’t always rely on you to come to the rescue when things get difficult.
     
  • 24-Hour Rule: If your student has a problem, complaint, or is really homesick and considering dropping out of college, acknowledge the problem and offer your support, but ask them to wait 24 hours before making a decision, so they can think about the issue and come up with a reasonable, well thought-out solution.  You can also adopt this tip: If your student calls with an issue, consider waiting 24 hours to see if the student solves the problem.  If they haven’t, then offer them some advice on people they may be able to contact to get assistance resolving the problem.
     
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): This federal law prevents university employees from revealing student information to anyone other than the student to include grades, course rosters, and attendance. Your student will have the option of completing a form this year to allow others to have access to confidential information. 
     
  • Your Child Got a D or F, It’s Time to Celebrate!: If your student receives a D or F on their first exam or paper in October, celebrate the fact that now they know what it feels like – and encourage them to make changes and find assistance on campus so it doesn’t happen again!  
     
  • Homesickness means you did a good job!: Most students will experience homesickness at some point during the first year of college.  There are several things you can do to assist your student during these times including mailing them a handwritten letter, baking and sending treats, or planning a weekend visit to campus.
     
  • Oh, the People Your Student Will Meet: Encourage your child to get involved and meet new people by joining a student organization, participating in campus activities, or holding a campus job. Creating strong relationships on campus will help reduce homesickness and provide study help, stress release, information, and future connections.  Research has shown that students who become engaged in campus activities are more likely to succeed in college.
     
  • You are not alone, First Year Experience is here to help:  The FYE team members are happy to assist students make a smooth transition to college while also providing several tips for success.
     
  • In Case of Emergency: If you ever have questions or concerns about your student, do not hesitate to contact a campus resource.  The following offices help students with concerns on a daily basis: University Police (608.342.1584), Student Health Services (608.342.1891), Dean of Students (608.342.1854), and First Year Experience (608.342.1081).


The Information Center team members act as the campus operator and are always happy to guide students, faculty, staff, and family members in the right direction.  The Information Center number is 608.342.1491.

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