Tips for Parents of Incoming Freshmen
Ensure all admissions, registration, financial aid, and bursar requirements are correct and complete. Due to FERPA regulations, the University cannot share personal information about their student i.e. grades, financial aid, or account balances. Therefore, we suggest that you work with your student to guide them through these processes. Doing so allows your student to take control of their college experience, help them gain independence, while also taking the unneeded stress and pressure off of you.
Mark calendars to attend parent orientation sessions. Attending parent orientation will provide you with valuable information to assist your student and give you a glimpse of what your students will experience as a college student.
Finalize student living arrangements and packing list. The packing/moving-in process can be very hectic and emotional. Review residence hall guidelines on check-in procedures, and work with your student to purchase and pack belongings that are both necessary and make the students feel comfortable away from home. Doing so will reduce anxiety levels for you and your student.
Enjoy time with your student. As students enter college and become more involved, time spent with family may decrease. During the summer before college, plan time for you and your student to spend time together. Throughout the semester plan trips to visit. Students often welcome the familiarity of parents and family as they get acclimated to a new environment. During breaks set aside time to connect with your student to see how they are doing, and they can do the same for you.
Maintain communication. Use social media, phone calls, text messages, letters, and care packages to show your support and stay up-to-date with your student. It is important for you to understand that not all phone calls or messages may be returned. Students often become involved with class and extracurricular activities and forget to return calls. It may be a good idea to set a specific time up with your student that you can talk every week.
Help your student become aware of safety on and off campus. Sending your student off to college can be a scary experience. Therefore, the more you and your student are informed about the University’s safety guidelines; it will make this experience less stressful for both of you. You and your student should be aware of safety issues and precautions on and off campus. Use this tip to discuss the responsibilities that come along with gaining independence. In addition, we strongly encourage you and your student to sign up for Tiger Text to stay informed of any inclement weather or safety concerns.
Listen to/Encourage student. Your student may call you feeling overwhelmed or expressing frustrations with certain issues on campus. Use this as an opportunity to encourage and empower your student. Although you may feel the need to resolve a situation for your student, guide them in the direction of reaching out to someone on campus, which shows them how to effectively use campus resources. When students call, they may simply want someone to listen and show them support, not try to work out the issue for them.
Instill Financial Responsibility. The decision to attend college is a significant investment, especially financially. Teaching your student to manage funds appropriately goes a long way in making life during and after college more manageable and enjoyable. We strongly suggest that you help your student develop necessary skills in financial responsibility such as balancing/managing their bank accounts, understanding each aspect of the student loan process, and responsible credit card use.
Get Involved. Although many view college as a time for parents to take-it-easy, there are numerous opportunities to get involved and stay connected to your student. Utilize the resources offered by Parent & Family Services such as e-newsletters, Parent & Family Weekend, and other activities. Also, consider contributing to your student’s University foundation (we know that you already pay for tuition, but donations go a long way in providing more opportunities for your student and you. We even have a Parent Fund you can donate to.) Also, stay up-to-date with the happenings at the University by visiting the website regularly, attending on-campus events, and reaching out to other parents. Getting involved is the best way to stay connected and “in the know” with your child and other parents who are going through this experience.
Don’t believe the hype. Many parents hear horror stories about their student’s first-year in college; however, do not let this deter you. The first-year is a new learning experience for you and your student. You both have control to make it a great memorable moment or an “I wish I could forget it” nightmare. The key to making it a success lies in proper preparation, attitude, and motivation, and of course staying informed. Remember, every stakeholder in this process wants your student to be successful and to see a proud happy parent. Therefore, we must all work together to achieve this goal.
Although these tips are not fully inclusive of everything you will experience in your student’s first year, they will help you and your student have a smooth transition into college life.