Your students are well prepared to set their own course. Let them know that it’s appropriate for you not be involved in their day-to-day decision-making. Empower them to make their own decisions.
Your relationship with your child will change. Your child may be living away from home for the first time. You will become a resource person as opposed to the person who tells them what to do.
Your relationship with your student’s educators will change. No one will report to you on your student’s progress. Academic records and other student records such as health centre visits are confidential. The university is legally obligated to only release information directly to the students.
Your student’s grade may drop in the first year. The workload is much heavier in university and students must learn to develop critical thinking skills. You may need to adjust your expectations and support your student.
You may receive a stressed-out call from your student — usually around week 5 or 6 of classes. Students adjusting to a new environment, more responsibility and an increased workload are bound to experience stress and frustration. As midterms and papers become due, your student may feel overwhelmed and may even want to come home. Reassure your son or daughter that EVERY student experiences this at some time and that quitting or coming home is not the answer.
Your student may experience homesickness. Encourage your student to build a new community. Suggest they take some comforts of home with them — a cozy blanket or favorite pillow. Resist the temptation to let your student come home too often. Instead, encourage them to get involved on campus. Reassure them by setting up a regular time to call or email.
Deal with crises at home. You will need to use your good judgment about when to give your child sad or bad news. You may want to delay it slightly if a midterm is due, but don’t put it off indefinitely. People experience significant life events in stages. You want your student to be part of your and your family’s process, not out of sync with it.
Deal with alcohol and drugs. Clearly communicate your expectations. Discuss the laws regarding underage drinking and impaired driving. Remind them of the consequences of illegal drug use. If students break the law, they will be dealing with the police — not the university.
Recognize signs of stress and depression: Talk to your student if he or she seems to be experiencing undue stress or seems sad or withdrawn for extended periods. Encourage your student to reach out; there are many people who can help–from the professionals in Counseling Services to peer mentors, residence dons and faculty members.
Support your students’ efforts to explore their interests and develop new ones. Encourage tolerance and appreciation of different cultures. Encourage your student to get involved and make friends. Students may try on a few different selves before finding the one that fits best. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about them becoming the kind of person they want to be.