Advice and dispelling myths
Should I ask them if they are homesick?
The power of association can be a dangerous thing. One of our students once said "the idea of being homesick didn't even occur to me, what with all the new things that were going on, until my mom called one of the first weekends and asked 'Are you homesick?' Then it hit me."
The first few weeks of school are packed with activities. The challenges of meeting new people and adjusting to new situations take the majority of a first-year student's time and concentration. So, unless they're reminded of it, perhaps by a well-meaning parent, they'll probably be able to escape the loneliness and frustration of homesickness.
And even if they don't tell you during those first few weeks, they do miss you.
Should I write to them?
Although first year students are typically eager to experience all the away-from-home independence they can in those first weeks, most are still anxious for family ties and security. Sensitive parents may misinterpret this surge of independence as rejection, but most new students (although 99% won't admit it) would give anything for some news from home and family, however mundane it may seem to you.
There's nothing more depressing than a week of empty mailboxes. (Warning - don't expect a reply to every letter or email you write. The you-write-one, they-write-one sequence isn't always followed by university students, so get set for some unanswered correspondence). The onset of email correspondence could drastically improve your chances of a reply. And of course, with today's great long distance phone rates, regular calls from home are much appreciated.
Where to send mail:
Room # and residence building
UNB Saint John
100 Tucker Park Road
Saint John, NB, Canada
Should I ask questions?
First-year students have a tendency to resent interference with their new-found lifestyle, but most still desire the security of knowing that someone is still interested in them.
Parental curiosity can be obnoxious and alienating or relief-giving and supportive depending on the attitudes of the parents and students involved. Questions with an "I have a right to know" tone should be avoided. However, honest inquires and other "between friends" communication and discussion will do much to further the parent-student relationship.
Should I worry about overly emotional calls or emails?
Parenting can be a thankless job, especially during the college years. It's a lot of give and only a little take.
Often when troubles become too much for first-year students to handle (a flunked test, ended relationship and shrunken T-shirt all in the same day) the only place to turn, write or dial is home. Often, unfortunately, this is the only time the urge to communicate is felt so strongly, so you never get to hear about the "A" paper, the new boyfriend or the domestic triumph. In these "crisis" times your student can unload trouble or tears and, after the catharsis, return to routine, relieved and lightened, while you inherit the burden of worry.
Be patient with those "nothing is going right", "I hate this place" phone calls or emails. You're providing real assistance as an advice dispenser, sympathetic ear or punching bag. Granted, it's a service that makes you feel lousy, but it works wonders for a frustrated student.
Are these the best years of their lives?
This first year (and all the other ones as well) can be full of indecision, insecurities, disappointments, and, most of all, mistakes. They're also full of discovery, inspiration, good times and people, but in retrospect, it's not the good that stands out.
Sometimes it takes a while (with help of some good friends) to realize that the paperback novel perceptions of what university was all about are inaccurate. Being unhappy, afraid, confused, disliking people and making mistakes are all part of the show, all part of this new reality, all part of growing up.
Any parent who believes that all university students get good grades, know what they want to do after university, always have activity-packed weekends, thousands of close friends and lead care-free, worry-free lives is wrong. So are the parents who think university-educated equals mistake-proof. Parents that perpetuate and insist upon the "best years" stereotype are working against their child's already difficult self-development. Those who can accept and understand the highs and lows of their student's reality are providing support and encouragement where it's most needed.
If something goes wrong, where can my son or daughter turn?
Should the need arise, residence staff are on hand 24 hours a day. There is an RA assigned to each area of the residence. In addition the Residence Life Coordinator and Security who are just a phone call away at any time.
How much studying is done in residence?
The residence environment is designed to provide as much quiet and study time as your student needs. There are quiet hours for sleep and study, and study lounges with wireless internet access on every floor, and a shared understanding among all residents to maintain an atmosphere conducive to sleep and study.
Stricter 23-hour quiet hours are maintained during examination periods. If there are any noise disturbances, students are encouraged to try to communicate with the resident causing the noise to alleviate the problem. If this is not successful, students are encouraged to contact their RA or the RA on duty and they will follow-up.
How safe is residence and the campus?
UNB strives to provide a safe and secure environment and is dedicated to promoting safety in all the residences and throughout the campus. Doors are locked 24 hours a day. Individuals that live in residence need their key cards to enter at all times. Guests may enter the residence provided that a host accompanies them at all times.
On a rotational basis, our live-in student staff and other residence staff are available 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies and disturbances within the buildings. Programs such as SafeWalk are available for all students traveling between UNB buildings. In addition, RAs do regular rounds of the Residence System and are available by phone at any time.
Furthermore, there are security cameras located in the halls. These are viewed ONLY if need be. Security also is available 24/7 and does regular rounds of the campus. We take these measures not because UNB isn't a safe place, but because we want to keep it safe.
Can we get financial help?
Many students who are in need of some financial assistance in university choose to apply for Federal or Provincial student loans. UNB also has many bursaries available to students and offers assistance in preparing and managing a budget. Information regarding financial assistance and bursaries should be directed to our Financial Aid Office.
What about when students return home for the summer?
When a university student returns home for the summer after the first year of being away, many changes have taken place. Your son or daughter will be much more independent and will not be used to telling someone what time they will be home, where they are going or generally being told what to do.
The best way to avoid an argument is for you to sit down with your son or daughter and discuss the changes and compromise on what the at home rules will be. Remember that your child has had to do a lot of growing up and has only had to be concerned with his or her self the past year.