Parents play an integral role in a students transition from high school to college. Whether it feels like it or not, students still listen to their parents, still take their advice seriously, and still want to know their parents care about them. Healthy Expectations has developed a variety of resources to help parents through the transition of a son or daughter to college.
As you prepare for your student to attend George Mason University, we know that YOU are probably going through some transitions and adjustments yourself. With that in mind, we share the following suggestions to help make your student's adjustment smooth and healthy.
- Listen: Allow your student to share his/her feelings and expectations about all of the new experiences college will bring. Encourage your student to share both concerns and excitement openly with you by reserving judgment and simply allowing him or her to talk.
- Inquire: Your student may be hesitant to share with you pre-college fears or certain experiences during the first year at college. It is important to ask your student about those subjects that may be uncomfortable to discuss. You may easily ask about academics, but don't be afraid to ask about other aspects of college life. Inquire about the relationships your student is developing at college, including friends, roommates and romantic relationships. Ask your student about activities on the weekend and the choices she or he is making about alcohol and other drugs. Your student may not share everything with you, but it will help to know that you are willing to discuss these and other topics if the need arises.
- Support: Although they may not always say it, first year students need parental support. Let your student know that you have confidence in their abilities. Knowing that you believe he or she will be both academically and socially successful in college will greatly enhance your student's self-confidence. E-mail, cards, phone calls and care packages are great ways to stay connected.
- Suggest: Learn about the resources available to students at George Mason University. Regardless of the situation your student faces, someone on campus can help. It is important for first year students to begin to solve problems for themselves, but sometimes they need a little nudge in the right direction. Be prepared to help your student find resources when she or he get lost or the problem seems too big to handle alone.
- Share: Share your thoughts and feelings about the experiences your student has in college. Share any expectations you may have about your student's behavior and academic performance. It is important to share this information with your student before he or she leaves for college to avoid problems in the future.
- Accept: College is time of change for many students. Your student will continue to develop opinions and thoughts on a variety of topics. Accept your student's emerging independence and his or her right to disagree with you. Your student may choose a different major than the one you recommended or may adopt political views that differ from your own. Engaging in constructive conversations about areas where your opinions differ will strengthen your relationship, rather than weaken it.
- Understand: Understand that everyone makes mistakes. Your student will certainly take a few wrong steps during the first year of college. Overreacting to these situations may push your student away and discourage him or her from continuing to share with you in the future. Reacting calmly to adverse situations and supporting your student through any early pitfalls will set a good precedent for communication throughout her or his college career.