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Suggestions for Parents of Freshmen

  • Prepare your student for actual versus assumed college “norms”
    Students consistently misperceive the norms on campus. Of those who drink, the majority have four or fewer. Most don’t drink heavily.

  • Discuss the transition.
    Freshmen frequently make new friends quickly. Encourage branching out. Be prepared for the sadness of separation. It is important for your student to feel a sense that they have said their “good-byes” to the people and things important to them. The sadness and the grief they may feel initially is a normal and important part of the transition process. Usually it will pass.

  • Support from home is important, especially during the first few months of your student’s transition to college.
    Students find calls, packages, e-mails, etc. critical in helping them stay in touch with family and friends. Your openness, as a parent, in talking with your student about the ups and downs of college life helps them adjust to the university environment.

  • Encourage communication with roommates.
    Encourage him/her to establish guidelines and considerations for one another.

  • Encourage your student to take responsibility for their actions.
    Making choices and living with the consequences, whether good or bad, can be empowering. Mistakes can be one of our greatest learning tools.

  • Remind your student to take charge of their health, sleep, nutrition, and sexuality.
    Students who don’t set limits risk exhaustion and illness often resulting in poor grades.

  • Encourage your student to balance their social and academic life.
    Studies indicate that many students mistakenly think that college will be same as high school academically. Initially, less attention paid to academics can create a crisis mid-semester as students receive early disappointing grades.

  • Encourage socializing without alcohol.
    Meeting people can be done in a variety of ways. Clubs and organizations, as well as the recreation center, offer plenty of opportunities to meet people and learn something new.

  • Accept that your student may vacillate between needing closeness and support to reacting irritably to what he or she perceives as parental intrusion.
    Be aware that it is normal for your student to straddle their old life and their new life for awhile. Loss or change in status of high school relationships is common along with an increasing sense by students that home feels less comfortable then it used to. Many feel that life back home goes on without them. Leave their room as is for at least the first semester.

  • Encourage your student to find healthy ways to deal with change at college.
    Exercise, volunteerism, and talking with friends are all ways to lessen the stress temporarily and in a healthy way.

  • Support your student in his/her efforts to not drink when he or she is in situations where heavy drinking is occurring.
    Your student may be concerned about “fitting in” and may need your understanding and support.

  • If you can, discuss the role of sex in relationships with your student.
    Listen openly and nonjudgmentally to their concerns and questions. Over 80% of freshmen have one or fewer partners.

  • Encourage your student to reserve some time alone.
    Private time is often helpful and can allow your student to reflect on changes that they are experiencing. Major family disruption such as divorce or death is especially difficult to overcome when a student is away for the first time. Do not engage your student as a sounding board or your sole support in a time of crisis.