A. Goal Setting
Your student’s future success may be limited if we only provide the knowledge needed for a specific job. Unless your student has a specific major, encourage him or her to discover and explore the options that the college offers. Using college resources will help your student to select from among those options. It is common for students to change majors three to five times during their college careers. Students need time to sort out potential interests and experience different academic programs. Parents help prepare students for future career experiences when they encourage them to:
Take classes that explore more than one career option
Visit the career center and academic advisors
Participate in community service
Participate in campus and community organizations
B. Student Involvement
Studies are continually being conducted to measure the effects of involvement on college students. Results of those studies show students who are involved are more satisfied with college, likely to complete a degree, and achieve success during their college years. Student government, academic clubs, and athletic teams all provide opportunities to enhance skills in leadership, teamwork, and goal setting. Writing for the school newspaper sharpens writing skills, working for the campus radio develops communication skills, and joining a service organization allows students to meet many different people.
C. Identifying and Overcoming Problems
College can be an overwhelming experience for some students. Stress, homesickness, and loneliness are just a few of the emotions first year students may experience. Skipping classes, difficulty in keeping up with homework, and frequently going home may be indicators of problems in adjusting to college life. Early detection will give the student more options to address the situation. However, it is important to remember that there are many behaviors that are normal responses to all of the new challenges. Caring communication that is not critical or meddling will help to gain your student’s attention.
D. Discovering the Benefits
When a child decides to go to college it is a decision that impacts the entire family. It may require some sacrifices and some parents might be concerned if this is the right decision for their student. Research continues to find significant differences between college graduates and those who do not attend college. College graduates tend to have increased confidence and adaptability, are more accepting of those who are culturally different from themselves, and are more responsive to community needs.
Mullendore, R.H., & Hatch, C. (2000). Helping your first-year student succeed: A guide for parents (pp13-26). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for the Freshman Year Experience & Students in Transition.