Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." ~Elizabeth Stone
Supporting Your Student: Tips for Parents of First Generation, Minority and International Students
Colorado College invests much time and energy in helping your student make the complicated transition to college life and beyond. We also understand that you, as a parent of a First Generation, Minority or International college student, are making an important transition as well. A number of departments on campus (including Student Life, Residential Life, Career Center and Office of Minority and International Students) can help to answer your questions. Here, we'd like to offer some perspective on a very broad question: "How can I best support my college student?"
You may notice that your student has become more independent over the last few years. Most students continue to change while at CC, through interactions with new people and the new tasks and challenges they face. College is usually a time when young adults separate from their families, form a sense of self-identity, clarify their moral and ethical beliefs, establish intimate relationships, and choose a career goal. While these achievements are positive, these changes may generate feelings of dislocation and loss for both parents and students.
So, how can you as a parent help your student through these changes?
While your student is facing homesickness and residence hall living, you are managing the challenges of home-away-from-home parenting. Seasoned college parents suggest some of the following strategies:
Plan together. Your student will need help in understanding how to budget, the ins and outs of health and auto insurance, campus technology and communication options, and what to pack. This is a good opportunity to plan with your student for the coming year and to avoid miscommunications about finances and other important choices.
Trust your student. Each student will face problems and make mistakes, but will need your assurance to be the capable, confident person you raised.
Be a good listener. Your student will want to test new ideas and new identities with you. While you may not always agree, it is important that you listen and support your student's growth.
Stay in contact. Your student will need reassurance of your love and interest, but may not need it every day. On the other hand, some students will want to maintain almost daily contact. Make your conversations count, remembering to be a supportive listener.
Maintain serenity. Occasionally, college students have difficulty putting problems into perspective. When your student calls home to say, "I don't have any friends" or "I don't belong here," parents have an opportunity to help their students develop problem-solving skills, critical to healthy development. Work to identify specific issues and potential solutions, and encourage a search for resources on campus.
If you have ANY questions about college life and supporting your student, please do not hesitate to contact any of the following staff:
Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Minority Student Life Specialist – 719-389-6198, Kristina.Lizardy-Hajbi@ColoradoCollege.edu
Roger Smith, International Student Specialist - 719-389-6897, Roger.Smith@ColoradoCollege.edu
Rochelle Mason, Director, Office of Minority Student Life – 719-389-6338, RMason@ColoradoCollege.edu
Adapted from Linfield College Parent website.