What every parent of a first-year student should know...
Starting college is a time of transition for both you and your student. For many students, this may be the first time they have been a significant distance from home for weeks or months at a time. As a parent, you want your student to enjoy their college experience to the fullest, but you also understand that part of their new adventure includes many opportunities to learn how to be independent and self-reliant. As your student takes on adult responsibilities, your role will change, but your student will still need you to support their growing independence and to be a stable "home base."
In this age of instant information and constant connectivity, it seems almost impossible NOT to be connected. However, especially in the first couple of weeks at school when students are trying hard to integrate into the academic and social community, it is not unusual for them to neglect a call home or fail to respond to a text or email. Be patient, but do try to check in with your student once or twice a week. As the semester progresses, the frequency of calls, texts, or emails may decrease, but that will depend on individual preferences. We strongly encourage students and parents to communicate about block break plans!
Other ways to stay connected include snail mail and care packages. Students LOVE to get mail, especially care packages! Treats from home that a student can share with others on their hall are an especially good way to support developing friendships.
Be Knowledgeable About Campus Resources
Use the parent webpages and the larger Colorado College website to become familiar with life at CC. You will find a wealth of information about the college and its departments. Helping your student navigate the college by referring him or her to appropriate resources is one of the best ways for you to mentor your student. By acting as a referral source, you show your student that you are interested in his or her life while simultaneously empowering your student to solve his or her own problems.
Continue to Have Difficult Conversations
Colorado College provides a stimulating academic program in the context of a residential campus that invites students to pursue their passions both in and out of the classroom. We don't tell our students when to do homework, what time to go to bed, what food to eat in the dining hall, when to exercise, what campus organizations to join, or whether or not to drink alcohol or engage in sexual relationships. You no longer have the same control that you once had over your student's day-to-day life. However, you do still exert influence over your student's behavior. While you cannot force your student to behave exactly as you would like, you can still share your values and beliefs on these and other important topics. If you can create an atmosphere of open communication, your student will not only appreciate that you respect him or her as an adult, but he or she will also be more likely to turn to you for guidance.
Emotional Health and Your College Student
Colorado College's Wellness Resource Center and Counseling Center are excellent resources for your student. If you are concerned that your student is struggling, your goal is not to solve their problems for them, but to confront the issues as directly and constructively as possible in order to help them seek help before problems become debilitating. Some parents find this guide from The JED Foundation valuable as they consider how best to assist their student:
Additional information and advice about making the transition to and attending college is available on The Transition Year website.