Parenting a first-time college student
You may have to do more than let go: You may have to give a gentle push
By: Dr. Stephanie Blaisdell, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs/Student Development
Watching your child make the move to college is often bittersweet. Parents express
great pride in their child’s accomplishment, as well as in their own sense of success
of getting their son or daughter to this point. On the other hand, whether your child
will be moving on or near campus or living at home, your child is “leaving” for college.
You may feel a sense of loss that leaves you wondering what your new role is. This
feeling is not altogether different from the sense of loss your child is feeling.
While Kyle* was waiting for his first semester of college to start, he felt untethered.
His high school friends were already back in class, and to pass the time he was hanging
around his alma mater more and more. A former teacher suggested that Kyle might help
with the school’s theater productions for the year. A star on the high school stage,
Kyle jumped at the chance and began eagerly planning the group’s next production.
The opportunity might have been a great one for Kyle, and for the student thespians
he worked with, but committing to his high school kept him actively engaged in that
community, when research tells us that new college students need to connect with their
Parents can facilitate a successful transition to college by encouraging students
to try out various activities until one (or more) feels like a good fit. The University
of Memphis offers a series of programs during “Opening Week” to help students get to know one another and to learn about involvement opportunities
on campus. All new students should be encouraged to attend New Student Convocation, followed by the Registered Student Organization Fair, on Monday, August 29, 2011. These events, along with others, are listed in the
Parent Calendar. A copy of the calendar was provided to parents who attended New Student Orientation.
Another way to help students connect is to remind them about the True Blue Life channel
in their MyMemphis portal. This channel allows students to see updates on all types of involvement opportunities,
from Community Service to Commuter Students; Educational Support Programs to Employment;
Recreation to Research Opportunities to Religious Organizations, and more. The channel
is intended to provide students with one-stop-shopping for ways to connect with their
We know that students may struggle academically their first semester. They may struggle
with figuring out what to major in. They may even struggle with their roommate or
with other relationships. What may make the difference between giving up or persisting
to their goal of earning a degree is whether or not they connect with the university.
Students need to know that someone will miss them if they were to drop out. Making
that connection is one of the most important things students will do their first semester.
*Some details have been changed to protect privacy