The year has started and your student has begun their life as a college student. Whether your student lives on campus or commutes, the transition is a big one and can come with a lot of feelings…excitement, worry, nervousness, anxiety, hope…and those feelings can sometimes be tough for your student to manage.
So what do you do if your student calls you and is upset? Maybe they’re feeling homesick or feeling like they’re not fitting in or haven’t found their place at the university. Maybe they’re worried classes will be too hard and they’re afraid of not doing well. As parents, family members, and supporters, there are several ways you can encourage and support your student as they work through these feelings and their transition to college.
- Don’t Panic! All of these feelings are completely natural and are feelings that most college students experience at some point in their transition. Entering into a new environment can be awkward and feel uncomfortable. Listen to your student vent and give them a chance to express how they’re feeling, and know that what they are going through is normal.
- Encourage Your Student to Get Involved! The #1 way to help your student successfully transition into college is to encourage them to get connected on campus. This could mean:
- Joining one of the many student clubs and organizations
- Finding an on-campus job
- Going to a program or event on campus – this can also help students get connected to offices that do a lot of amazing things, like the Office of Multicultural Affairs or Campus Recreation
- If your student lives on campus, encourage them to talk to their RA or attend a program offered by staff in their residence hall. Also, know that RAs will schedule a meeting with every student on their floor, so a staff member will definitely reach out to your student.
- It’s really tough, but avoid being the problem solver or the urge to come to the rescue! We know it can be hard to watch your student deal with uncomfortable feelings, but challenge your student to put themselves out there and find their “home” on campus. If you can, avoid having them come home for extra visits, and avoid the urge to come to campus to visit them (if they live on campus). They’ll figure out how to navigate their new environment if they have the opportunity (and challenge) to do so.
- Let them feel the support from home! Send your student a care package or card if they do not live with you. If your student still lives at home and commutes, surprise them with a nice note in their bag or pack them a special snack. Your student will feel better about the transition with reminders of how much they are loved at home and that they have a solid foundation of people rooting for them.
- You know your student. While all students can struggle with the transition to college, you know your student best and know what to expect from their behavior and reactions. If your student is having an especially hard time, there are resources on campus to help them through it. Encourage your student to speak to someone from the counseling center. If you’re worried about your student’s mental wellness and safety, also consider reaching out to the STARs program.
There is an entire campus community here for you and your student! Please always reach out to us if you need anything!