Prepare Your Student

The top 10 challenges

  1. Varying class size and locations: Classes may be as small as 20 people or as large as 200. Students will need extra time to find and get to their classes. Suggest they leave early to get a seat and a parking space. You could also lend them your copy of the campus map.
  2. Emphasis on critical thinking: Students are expected not only to understand and remember what they read or what they hear in the classroom, but also to analyze it and think critically. Ask what they think about what they are learning. Encourage participation in class discussion, forming opinions and evaluating ideas.
  3. Less time in class; more independent study. Many instructors will expect a significant investment of time spent outside of class on readings, assignments and studying. It’s not unusual to spend 10–15 hours outside of class, in addition to the average 15 hours a week in class. That adds up to 30 hours a week — pretty much a full time job.
  4. Am I smart enough? As the first class gets closer, your student’s anxiety and doubts may increase. Reassure your son or daughter that university is nothing to be afraid of; students will be given every opportunity to succeed. Help your student set realistic expectations.
  5. Time management. Despite the many demands they will have on their time, students’ studies need to be their first priority. Encourage them to make time for their studies, well as finding a healthy balance between academics, fitness, part-time work and extra-curricular activities. This will help them get the most from their university experience.
  6. Financial challenges. The Financial Aid Office has resources on their web site to help students prepare a budget. Before they leave home, students should develop a realistic plan for managing their finances, including debit and credit cards.
  7. Self-reliance. Make sure your student has basic laundering, housekeeping, organization and accounting skills before leaving home. Resist the urge to do these things for them when they come home.
  8. Living away from home. Whether your student lives in residence or in off campus housing, there’s a lot for them to learn when living outside the family home. For the first time they will be living with people who don’t love them unconditionally. Discuss living with others–respect for property and privacy, sharing, contributing and open communication as a way to solve conflict.
  9. Fitting in and finding friends. Finding new friends might be uncomfortable, but it is essential to personal growth. Encourage getting out and getting involved. Remind your student that it takes time to get to meet and know people. Acknowledge their pain of missing old friends and offer reassurance them that losing touch with some of them is normal and to be expected.
  10. Staying healthy. Remind your student that stress relief is free, sleep is a must, and that the brain is a muscle that needs to be fed – eat well! There are medical services on campus, lots of healthy ways to relieve stress, and lots of healthy food options. Encourage making responsible choices.

Students Working Together