Tips About Freshmen
Tips for Parents of Freshmen Students
Most students make the transition to college with few if any serious bumps along the road. However, there are some common issues of which parents need to be aware and be able to discuss with their student both prior to going off to college and during that first year experience when a bump in the road takes place.
- Have clear understanding how the expected and unexpected costs of being away from home are to be handled. Discussions taking place in advance will reduce the stress when there is some difficulty.
- DECLARING A COLLEGE MAJOR
- The single largest group among freshmen are undecided as to what is to be their major. That is ok. Typically there are enough core courses which will keep a student on track while the final decision is being made. If it is possible to visit a university prior to enrolling, take some time to visit the department in which your student is considering a major. Talking to a faculty member can be helpful. Closely examine the college catalog which outlines the requirements of a major; looking especially at the course descriptions. And then talk about your reactions to this information.
- CHANGING A COLLEGE MAJOR
- For those who decide upon a major prior to attending college, a huge proportion will make at least one change. Encourage your student to seek as much input from professors, counselors, and others as this re-decision process takes place. It is not the end of the world to make a change.
- TIME MANAGEMENT
- This is the one area which causes the most upset for many freshmen. New students are often not use to managing their lives 24/7. Typically parents, teachers, and others have had great influence in guiding their daily and weekly schedule. While most students have to learn through experience this is an important topic to discuss prior to leaving home.
- ADJUSTING TO ROOMMATES
- Many students are not well experienced with living with "strangers." Success in this area requires a willingness to communicate, problem solve, compromise, and tolerate, all on a timely basis. The longer it takes for roommates to deal with issues, the higher the stress. Typically the residence hall staff will be able to help in this process if roommates get stuck.
- Many students miss family, friends, and the familiarity of home and this can get in the way of making a successful transition to college. Keep in close contact with your students: letters, phone calls, e-mails, care packages, and encouragements to get involved in campus life are all helpful. The more a student can stay active in the wide variety of college events, the less likely homesickness will prove "fatal."
- There are many different types of people on a college campus. Students need to be prepared to meet and relate to many with whom they will "disagree". But disagreement does not have to lead to a situation of not getting along.
- Many students are not prepared for the work load of the college academic experience. What once could be handled with a few hours of study now require many, many more hours. The first round of tests, quizzes, and papers may throw a student off stride. Provide some encouragement and let the student know it is ok to talk to a professor or go to the "help center" for some assistance. It is not unusual for new students to be hesitant to seek out a teacher and ask for that special help, but it is OK.
- DROPPING OR STOPPING OUT
- For some students, coming to college right after high school is a mistake. There may be a lack of motivation or readiness. It is ok to stop out and come back later. Sometimes students stay in school too long while performing at a very marginal level; with hind sight they would have been better served by stopping out and saving their grade point. There are many roads to successfully completing a college degree
- PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS
- It is important for families to have mutually arrived at a set of realistic performance standards in regard to grades. Parents have to be prepared for the possibility of a dip in performance. College is tough and many students are going to require at least a semester to make the necessary adjustments to study and time management requirements. It is quite usual for grade point averages to be lower at midterm and even at the end of the semester than the grades the student received in high school.
- IT IS OK FOR PARENTS TO BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED
- If you are worried about your student and their adjustment, actively encourage him/her to seek help from residence hall staff, counseling center, advisors, or professors. If you have doubts that your student is being assertive enough in help seeking make some calls yourself.
- TALK WITH YOUR HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELORS
- It is very important to have you and your student spent sometime discussing the pros and cons of every college being considered as well as your student's strengths and weaknesses for each college. Ideally there is a match between the college under consideration and your student as to academic strengths and interests as well as from a personal and social expectation point of view.
- SPECIAL NOTE TO DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS
- Students whose parents are divorced or separated often face problems above and beyond problems other students experience. It is very important for divorced parents to make special efforts to have similar expectations for their student. If the parents are not working together it is so easy for the student to feel caught in the middle on almost any problem which arises. Make special plans to ensure both parents are in the communication loop.
- GRADUATION/COMPLETION FACTS
- Some kids won't or can't make it in a 4 year college. If this is the case with your kid; be open to help them find other pathways into the world of work.
- 22% of those entering, finish in 4 years
- 30% more finish in 6 years Women graduate at a higher rate than men
- Nationally 28% of adults hold a 4 year degree or better
- CLEAR EXPECTATIONS ARE THE KEY TO CALMNESS AND SUCCESS
- Good communication will result in everyone in the family having similar expectations regarding what the college experience should be. Having different ideas will probably cause problems
Source: Counseling and Testing Center at the University of North Texas
Something to Read at Night
Johnson, H.E. & Schelhas-Miller. DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. JUST SEND MONEY: THE ESSENTIAL PARENTING TUIDE TO THE COLLEGE YEARS.
Savage, M. YOUR ON YOUR OWN (but I'm here if you need me) MENTORING YOUR CHILD DURING THE COLLEGE YEARS.
Kadison, R. & DiGeronimo, T. COLLEGE OF THE OVERWHELMED: THE CAMPUS MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT.
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