While your student and you are now physically apart, you can still significantly contribute to their overall success, health, and well-being by engaging in meaningful conversations. We urge parents and family members to continue to be a positive source of guidance while allowing students a sense of self and independence. Above all, we encourage you to not only instill a sense of reassurance through life challenges, but also impart to your student that you will be there for them through it all. The following lists questions to help facilitate these conversations.
Create a Communication Pact
College introduces personal freedom along with increased responsibilities and stress. Help your student manage by clearly communicating your expectations for each other.
- How often should we chat together?
- What ways should we communicate?
- On which decisions do you think it would be best to get my input?
- What are your goals for this year? How can I be supportive?
Overall Health and Well-Being
The transition to college can be stressful, so we recommend regularly checking in on your student’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
- What are you looking forward to (or excited about) right now?
- What are you concerned or nervous about?
- Are you enjoying _____?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
- What are you going to do when things get stressful? What are some healthy and effective ways to cope?
- What can we do to help?
Academic and Career Support
College academics are much more rigorous than high school. It is important to help your student adjust to new courses and study schedules and develop a plan for academic success.
- What are some things you are passionate to learn more about?
- What are you excited to get involved in?
- How has it been in creating a routine for yourself?
- I know you've been quite busy, how has it been going with managing your time?
- Have you checked in with your professor during their office hours?
- Have you met with an academic advisor?
- What careers are you considering? What steps are you considering to get there?
Alcohol and Other Drugs
Students must know how to safely navigate an environment that may include alcohol and other drugs. The best way to prepare your student is to have an open conversation. This may be the first time you have a conversation like this with your student and they might be reluctant to engage in the conversation. Encourage them to know institutional policies, local and state laws, and resources.
- How will you decide whether or not to drink during college?
- How are you going to handle pressure from your friends?
- Do you understand the effects of alcohol and cannabis?
- Do you know the consequences if you use illegally?
Conversations focused on healthy sex and relationships are vital because students receive so much misleading and problematic information. Set positive goals, communicate clearly, and address sexual violence prevention.
- What are you looking for in a partner or relationship?
- What kind of partner to you want to be?
- Do you know your sexual and relational boundaries and how to communicate them?
- Do you know how to ask your partner what their boundaries are at appropriate times?
- Do you know what consent is, what it isn’t, and ways to ask for consent?
- If you are intimate with someone and they say or imply no, how will you handle rejection?
Roommates and Friendships
Students face various social challenges with roommates, friends, and romantic relationships, and it is valuable to learn how to work through these difficult situations.
- Ask them how they might want things to be handled if the roles were reversed?
- What are some things you could say to your friend to begin to work things out?
- Is there something about your actions that you can change to help the situation?
- Have you talked to your resident assistant about ways to resolve the conflict or situation?
- What are you and your friends doing over the weekend or in the evenings to connect?
- How do you plan on getting involved and connecting with university communities?
College has a very large upfront cost, and discussing monetary concerns can be difficult. However, proper planning can only succeed with open conversations about financial realities and expectations.
- How will you manage your budget?
- What income sources are you expecting (family support, scholarships, loans)?
- What do you think is a reasonable amount of debt to take on for your education?
- Where do costly programs fit in, such as study abroad?
- What scholarships will you apply for now for next year (2018–19)?
- What values do you associate with money or how they view not having money?
- What attitudes do you have toward debt?
- How do you see your relationships impacting your budget? How will you cope with differences in spending habits (with a partner, roommates, family and friends, etc.)?
- What financial goals do you have and what actions do you intend to take toward those goals?
- How do you define the differences between a want and a need?