Your student may experience an increase anxiety and worry BEFORE setting foot on campus. These are often due to relationship changes like saying goodbyes to life-long friends, increased self-doubts or doubts about college and concerns about leaving home. What you can do:
- Provide support by asking gentle questions (“How do you think its going to be being away from your friends?”)
- Be understanding with the time your student wants with hometown sfriends
- Take advantage of spontaneous ways the family can spend time together
- Encourage confidence: remind them of other times they have successfully coped with new places/new friends
- Be there for them by increasing your time at home with them as the drop off date draws nearer.
- Before your student goes to college, plan to discuss how to deal with the following: time management, finances, eating habits, laundry, safety, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.
- Let your first-day college student be in charge of moving-in. Recognize this is an important step for them in attempting to maintain control on a day in which they may be full of uncertainty.
- Make their first birthday (or holiday) away from home a great one.
Develop a New Relationship with Your Student
For commuter students, helping your student to reorganize their bedroom at home can signal a move into a new phase of life.
Talk with your student on a consistent basis. Include the mundane. It gives the student a touch of home.
- Be pleasant and flexible.
- Talk about your expectations of your student if they are home for university holidays and breaks. Do this several weeks before the break.
- Set a date for a team effort to clean up your student’s room at home. This is a good time to reflect and reminisce.
- Buy clear plastic containers to store their things in – so it doesn’t look discarded, only saved.
- Know your limits and what battles are truly worth it – most aren’t.
- Be available without hovering.
- Let them make their own mistakes and achievements. No “I told you so’s.”
- Listen. Don’t give unsolicited advice (as one student put it: “if I wanted advice, I’d read Dear Abby.”).
- Don’t cross-examine, lecture, or ask questions you don’t really want the answers to. Instead, listen well and talk about yourself.
- Laugh often; say, “I love you” often; trust that you have done your job and done it well.
- Recognize that your other children are also affected by this transition. Take them with you (if possible) to help with moving in their brother/sister.
- Discuss their worries, anxieties, elation, and sadness that they may be experiencing from this new stage in the family life cycle.
Requests to return home or leave college: if this comes within the first few months, be supportive and encourage them to hang in there for a little longer. Recognize that the transition to college is a challenging one and many students need time to make the adjustment. Extra support is needed now: call more, write more often, listen intently and empathize with them. Don’t encourage a hasty decision. If the decision is made to leave or withdraw from the university, this transition comes easiest during a scheduled university such as the end of the school year.
Wanting to dropout: financial debts, failing grades, difficulty in connecting socially…these are some of the reasons students consider leaving college. If your student is seriously discussing this, the EKU Dean of Students in the Office of Student Affairs can assist you with connecting your student to helpful university resources.
If Your Student Is Experiencing Emotional Problems
- Stay in touch on a consistent basis
- Ask how they are coping with stress and the changes
- Try to visit once during the first semester, or have someone you know look in on your student
- If you feel a problem is developing, ask generally how they are coping.
- Take any sign that your student is having emotional difficulties (e.g., chronically sad, stressed, or depressed) seriously.
- The Counseling Center is available to consult with you about your concerns regarding your students mental health.
- It is also recommended that you contact EKU Dean of Students in the Office of Student Affairs. This office is able to connect your student to other helpful EKU resources to address academic concerns as well as connect your students to helpful university resources.