Parenting Commuter and On-Campus Students –
Be Bold and Balanced (like a good cup of coffee)
With all the college preparations in the month of August, your student may be sending a “let me handle this” signal. Remember that the college years are a sort of balancing act of becoming an adult while also needing a variety of parental support and resources. Help your student achieve that balance. Be bold and direct in reminding your student that you are still available to help — that you will be less involved but are still available. When a request for help comes, don’t rush to the rescue! Give your student the opportunity to solve a problem, gain confidence, and become more responsible. Here are six ways to stay bold and balanced …
Give them a year (or two).
Hearing about college is one thing, but experiencing it firsthand is another … this is the time when your child is learning to be an adult. And becoming successful doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long process of learning new skills and experiencing new situations. There is a big difference academically between high school and college. Struggles may begin for students who have always had it easy. That is normal. Sometimes a bad grade may show up in the process. Sometimes they find the wrong friends. Watch patiently with a positive attitude. Give them at least one year to find their balance, figure out where they fit in, take risks, and make adjustments.
Let them connect — Don’t smother!
It’s easy for commuters and residents to rely on family and high school relationships during the first few months, but the more time students spend on campus, the more chance they have to build community. Commuters need time on campus to connect. Allow your child the space and many, many hours needed to get plugged in on campus. If your student lives on campus, don’t expect daily communication or weekly home visits. In fact, encourage your student to stay on campus instead of driving home on the weekends.
Give Time for Discovery.
The first year of college can be confusing, eye-opening, life-changing, according to plan or just the opposite. Allow your student to go through the discovery process. Even if that means changing a major. Accept that when exploring the many options available in college, some students change their mind about their career plans. Students who feel pressured by their parents to maintain a particular direction describe feeling “trapped” instead of “supported.”
Remember the basics.
Check in with your student to make sure basic needs are covered. If your student counted on you to provide groceries and school supplies in high school, it can be hard to keep track of what is needed and set aside enough money. Students may be overwhelmed and may overlook the importance of books and supplies and healthy food. Check in from time-to-time to discuss necessities.
As students pull away or decrease communication, your support is still important. Encourage plans to study abroad, find an internship, or switch career paths.
It takes a village, and HCU is a great village.
In high school, parents are expected to advocate for their children. At 18, children are defined as adults and are expected to advocate for themselves. College is a safe environment to practice being an adult. It’s a place where students are able to – and want to – advocate for themselves. Honoring that will help your relationship when they come to you and ask for help. As Husky parents, you always have an advocate on your side and the student’s side – the Department of Student Success & Advising. We are all just a phone call away. But don’t call yet! Remind your student there is a village to help and empower your student to reach out to the village that includes: the first-year success coach who helps with every step of success, professors with office hours who want to meet each student, First Year Seminar professors who often serve as mentors, other students who tutor in the Academic Success Center, and unique communities that offer ways to get involved, such as Gen1, Impact, and TRiO. As a small university, HCU offers advantages, such as an available staff and resources to support dreams and goals.
The Department of Student Success & Advising includes the Academic Success Center, Advising, First Year Success, Gen1 and TRIO. The above tips were collected from Cristina Nader, Director of TRiO; Tristan Fernandez-Cablay, Assistant Director of the Academic Success Center; Donna Stallings, Advising Coordinator and from the Department of Student Life’s Mai Borges, Second Year Success Coach.