Supporting your newest college student can be difficult. Here are some of our top tips and tricks to show support!
Stay connected and check in.
Let your student know they can reach out to you by staying connected. Utilizing texting, social media apps, emailing and physical written mail or packages. This does not mean you and your student will have full conversations every time, but just let them know you are thinking of them. Check in to keep up to date on new changes in your student’s life, such as views, dress, behavior, relationships and passions. Keeping up-to-date will allow you to offer advice, wisdom and monitor any potentially harmful changes.
Learn about TU’s campus resources.
Your student will come across all kinds of questions and unknowns during their time away. Keeping up-to-date and being able to help your student navigate these questions about campus is a simple and effective support system. It shows your student that you are still available to help them while also growing their independence in problem solving and information gathering.
Continue to have difficult conversations.
With all of these new changes, your relationship with your student will change. The level of control you once had will decrease, even though your influence may remain the same. Your student now has to decide what to eat for dinner, when to do homework, who they are going to spend time with and how much sleep they are getting. Since you cannot force your student to act according to your plans, simply communicate with them. Tell them your values, beliefs, pros and cons, information on the topics to empower them. Knowing your values will influence your student to do their best and make good choices. Your student will appreciate your respect for their new independence and open the door to future communication and guidance on sensitive issues.
Ask questions – but not too many.
Be encouraging, but don’t be intrusive. Students want to know someone is still thinking of them from back home and interested in their lives. Asking basic questions and more friendship level based communication will improve the relationship from afar, but not become overbearing for the student.
This new chapter will bring new mindsets and personal beliefs or behaviors. Your student will begin to have experiences you aren’t seeing or maybe understanding. This is all normal and should be encouraged. Do your best to accept these changes.Try to set new expectations together with your student. Your relationship will go through a transition from child-adult to a more adult-adult relationship. Talk openly about it, and set boundaries together.
Trust your student.
Second guessing your student repeatedly will make them feel incapable and make the transition more difficult. College is the time for the student to decide who they want to be and what they want to become, and you just have to trust them to do that.
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