Tips for Parents

A Parents’ Guide to Finding Answers

Starting the fall semester at college requires a lot of adjustments — whether your student is a freshman or a senior. As she continues to gain independence and learn to handle things as an adult, she will likely need your guidance less and less. While this is a natural, healthy process, it can leave parents feeling clueless about what’s going on in their student’s lives and on campus.

For parents who want to know how their students are doing — physically, emotionally and academically — but don’t want to be too intrusive, asking fewer questions might actually spur on more conversation. Consider peppering the following questions into a weekly conversation with your student:

  • What’s your favorite class?
  • What are your roommates/neighbors/teammates/classmates like?
  • How is the food?
  • How is the workout facility?
  • How do you feel about the start of the semester so far?
  • What are you most excited about this semester?

Parents might also have questions about campus policies, the university calendar, tuition and financial aid and current community news. Instead of asking your student for this information, there are several resources to check out to keep you informed:

  • Look for an Office of Parent Relations.
    Many universities have staff members dedicated to communicating with parents and answering parents’ questions, and they have regular announcements through a twitter account or page on the website.
  • Contact the Dean of Students or a Student Life staff member.
    It’s usually easiest to get a hold of the Dean’s assistant or another staff member within the office, and they can generally answer questions you have. Depending on the nature of your question, it might make sense to schedule a time to talk to the Dean via phone.
  • Check the university website.
    It’s likely that someone has asked your questions before. Search the school’s website and check out the following sections regularly to stay informed: frequently asked questions, the academic calendar, tips for parents, student life, career planning and financial aid.
  • Look for parent groups on Facebook.
    Join or form a community for other parents of students at the same school. You can help answer each other’s questions, provide support and encouragement and offer practical solutions, like carpooling to Parent’s Weekend or arranging for your students’ transportation to and from the airport.
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