What to Expect
When your son or daughter begins the journey that is college, he or she won't
be the only one dealing with a wide range of emotions. Anticipation, anxiety,
confusion and hope are all common feelings for parents, as well as students.
Your student will experience growing independence, knowledge in new areas and
meet new people. But what does this mean to you as a parent? With a few simple
reminders and an awareness of the changing situation, your child's college
experience can be a positive situation for you as well.
- Because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), your
child must sign a release form to give you access to grades, financial aid
documents and other education-related records.
- While e-mail and cell phones are great ways to keep in touch with your
child, don't forget about "snail mail." Your student will love
receiving cards and packages from home.
- Not knowing how to be helpful to your student can be a frustrating
experience for parents. Experts advise a parent's best role is to provide a
steady, supportive home base while recognizing there will be ups and downs
in the students' needs and expectations. Try to follow up the leads of the
students and encourage them to work through a problem with you acting as a
coach. Help them balance their new responsibilities and let them know you
respect their right to make decisions.
- Remind yourself to notice and appreciate their new skills they learn.
Students often want their families to recognize their progress toward
- Most parents have a high investment in their student's decisions.
Problems arise, however, when parents are more invested than students. It
can be hard to decrease the involvement in a student's decisions out of fear
that the student won't assume responsibility. The irony is that students
often don't accept the task of being responsible until parents step back.
The fear that the student is not accepting responsibility makes most parents
lose sleep. There is, however, no need to become disinterested or
frustrated. Consider providing a concerned voice and remind yourself that
you are helping by working with your student on developing his or her own
decision making skills.
- Academic standards in college are much higher than in high school.
Students used to receiving high grades in high school may be disheartened by
lower marks in college. This is the time when they will need to discover how
they should be studying and motivate themselves to do so. Finding support to
deal with these challenges can also be important. Parents can remind
students to ask questions in class and to take advantage of available
resources. Parents and family members can also provide the support students
It would be nearly impossible to describe all of the situations that could be
encountered by both student and parents throughout a college career. Yet, with
understanding and support parents can ensure that your child's college time is
beneficial for all.
Adapted from the University of Delaware and the University of Alabama in