Tips for Parents & Guardians
Adapted from Gannett Cornell Health Services, CAPS
Sending your son or daughter for their first year of college is an exciting time, both for students and parents. It is a time of transition, full of new experiences that will be fun and at times challenging. Here are some tips for helping your son or daughter through this first year of college:
Helping Your Student Through the Transition
Communicate regularly. Even though your daughter or son is becoming more independent and making adult decisions, they still need to know that you are available for support. They need you to discuss both difficult issues and normal life occurrences. The phone and e-mail are great ways to stay connected. It is important to let them know that you are interested in both the difficult issues and their normal day-to-day activities. Give your son or daughter opportunities to bring up things they are concerned about. Try to find a balance between asking questions (what their grades are, how late they are staying out, or who their friends are, etc.) and letting them structure the conversation.
If your student does experience difficulties, encourage him or her to take advantage of the many resources available to Loyola students. There may be times when you are concerned about your son or daughter's well being while they are away at college. This can feel unsettling, as you will not be able to physically be there with them. It can be reassuring for parents to know what services are available on campus for students. The Loyola University Wellness Center is here to help students who are struggling emotionally or psychologically. We see students for all sorts of concerns, from homesickness, a breakup, or academic stress to more serious mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Encourage your student to seek out the services that available to them. Wellness Center staff are also available for consultation with parents if you are concerned about your son or daughter and are unsure about how to get them help.
Set realistic expectations about academic achievement and grades. Adjusting to university life is a difficult transition, and this may at times be reflected in a student's academic performance. Not every "A" student in high school will be an "A" student at Loyola. As long as they are meeting the basic academic requirements, be supportive and focus on their development, rather than their performance.
Be specific about the plan for paying for tuition, fees, books, room, board, travel, recreation, and other expenses. If you are realistic and clear about your expectation at the outset you may be able to avoid future misunderstandings. Talk with your student about using credit cards. Inexperienced users of credit cards can get into debt quickly. These tips on financial literacy for parents and students may be helpful.
Taking Care of Yourself
Allow yourself to experience your emotions. It is normal for family members to feel many confusing and conflicting emotions when child leaves home. These feelings can include sadness, guilt, relief, joy, and apprehension. Whatever you are feeling, there is little benefit in pretending these feelings are not there. A healthier approach is to talk about these feelings with family, friends, religious or spiritual support, or some other listener. Whatever you are feeling, rest assured that you are not the only one. Find others - family, friends, or co-workers, who have been through this too. You may find that sharing your experience with someone who understands what you are going through can help alleviate some of the stressful feelings.
Make your own well-being a goal. During stressful times, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. But we need to do this so we have enough energy to give support to others. So make sure you don't neglect those activities that help you replenish your own energy (e.g., exercise, spending time with friends, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep). You may find that you have more time to find new activities to enjoy!
Remember that starting college is an important developmental step for your student. Having a student at Loyola is a reflection of your success as a parent or guardian. It is a very big step toward adulthood and responsibility for making more independent choices. Be proud of yourself!
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