Tips for parents

For Parents

Life is full of transitions, and you and your child have made many of them together. Now it’s time for another transition, the College years. This is an important milestone in parent's life. It’s clearly also an important milestone in the life of your child as he or she enters adulthood and experiences, probably for the first time, a very real independence. Many people say that they found their years at College/University the most fulfilling and enjoyable of their lives. Hopefully, this site will provide you with some meaningful ways of supporting your child.

Your support has always been important to the student in your life, and as they enter a new phase of their life, it will continue to be important.  The nature of your support may change over time, as your students’ needs and experiences change. 

 

Being supportive means:

  1. listening without judgment
  2. trusting them with their decisions
  3. expressing enthusiasm for their ideas and experiences
  4. expressing confidence in their ability to succeed
  5. letting go enough for them to make their own mistakes

Speak regularly with your student about how things are going at college/university.  Ask about whether s/he is enjoying their classes and what kinds of projects s/he is working on.  If you suspect that s/he is finding the class difficult, encourage them early on to visit the learning centre to take advantage of the services they offer (i.e. free peer tutoring).  If they continue to struggle, you may want to suggest they speak with their academic advisor or program coordinator.

 

Embracing Change

We know that change is an inevitable part of life, and yet it is human nature to resist change.  Routine and familiarity are things that most people rely on to feel comfortable and relaxed.  Diversion from what is familiar to us can be difficult and unpleasant. 

As uncomfortable as change may be however, it is important to recognize the rewards that change can bring.   Attending College/University can bring great rewards!  It provides opportunity for:

  1. your student to grow intellectually and socially
  2. stretching one's self to accomplish new things
  3. developing confidence and independence
  4. preparing for a satisfying and rewarding career

For parents of students, embracing change also brings the rewards of knowing that your years of careful nurturing and mentoring have brought into the world a child who wants to learn and contribute through higher education.  It also brings the opportunity for you to develop a new adult-to-adult relationship with your child, and with it, very likely, a new appreciation of one another. 

 

Budgeting

It’s important to speak frankly with your student about money and how much it costs to be a college/university student. If your student has never lived on a budget, it’s important to talk about the realities of having limited funds and how much rent, cell phones, textbooks, laundry, transportation and food can really cost. While for many of us talking about money can be uncomfortable, it is better to be up-front about what resources you have (or don’t have) available to commit to your student’s expenses so that they can appreciate your perspective. If a part-time job is needed to pay for the extras, you should discuss how many hours a week they should work so as not to take away from their studies. Talking it over as a family and agreeing on a reasonable plan can reduce tensions later. By having this conversation with your student, you are acknowledging their growth, and hopefully s/he will respond with a more careful approach to spending.

 

Housing

For some, going to college/university means going away to college/university.  There are a few options to think of when considering where your student is going to live.  This may mean living in residence or off-campus in an apartment or house. 

For information on our on-campus residences, including pricing and floor plans, please contact Student Academic Success Strategies Inc or the institution student is attending. 

For information about off-campus housing, please contact Student Academic Success Strategies or the institution student is attending.

Many supporters are surprised at the intensity of their feelings when they say goodbye to their student.  While you know that going to college/university is what your student needs to do and you want them to have this experience, you may experience feelings of sadness, joy, anxiety about roommates and their health, and much more.  This is completely normal.  Everyone has a different way of coping with these feelings and finding a new daily routine at home without your student there.  Some strategies may include:

  • Don’t go home right away. Take some time getting home to sort through your feelings
  • As soon as you’re home write your student a letter or send a card with a note, affirming your connection with your student.
  • Shortly after arriving home, begin to make travel plans for a visit or for their return during holidays
  • Get together with friends whose children have also just left for college or university so that you can share your experiences and feelings with peers you trust in a similar situation. 

You may be worried about your student sharing living space and your student might be anxious too.  We all worry about someone liking us, and getting along is even more important if you’re going to be living together!  Again these are normal feelings and your student will need to develop the skills necessary to be able to live with someone new.  It will not be helpful if you are the one to fly to the rescue every time there is an issue.  They need to learn how to cope and to compromise on some issues – these are important life skills.  If they are living in residence, there are trained staff to help resolve conflict and assist in relationship-building between roommates.

Is My Child Succeeding?

Parents' interest in student’s experience at the College or University is important.  The information that she/he shares with you about the College experience may provide some satisfaction in a job well done.  It’s important to keep in mind, however, that as a supporter you will not have access to your student’s records.  All post-secondary institutions are bound to keep its students’ records confidential under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Colleges or Universities are not able to release any academic information to any third party without written authorization of the student; this includes students' marks and registration status.

When you ask your student how they are doing, or what they are doing, they may decide to just tell you what you think they want to hear.  Make sure that you ask about more than just grades.  Ask them what they are learning about in class, so they like their faculty, is there variety of food in the cafeteria, what is there to do on campus on the weekends, is there anything from home that you want me to send, etc.  Make sure you show interest in students’ experiences.  Importantly, don’t forget to talk your student about what is happening at home and what is going on in your life.  Especially if it involves re-modeling their space at home!!!  Avoid judging them and their experiences; new students are going through many changes and stresses making them sensitive to any hints of disappointment or criticism.  Keep the questions about finances, grades, and other specific information separate from the personal conversation if you can.