Information for Parents

College can be a difficult time for students, as well as for parents of students. We would like to help make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are some helpful tips for you and you student.

Adjusting to College: A Guide for New Students and their Parents

The college years are an exciting and stimulating time in the lives of students, a time of significant change for new students and their parents. In addition to preparing for a professional career, students face numerous challenges and opportunities to learn about themselves and the world around them. During this time, students make important life decisions, develop their personal and professional identities, interests and values, and evolve from adolescence to adulthood. This guide is intended to assist new students and their parents' in anticipating, discussing, and successfully navigating their way through the college years.

In the beginning...

Even before the first semester begins, it is important for parents and their soon-to-be college students to discuss a variety of topics in order to facilitate this transition. Whether the student will be living in a residence hall or an apartment, or commuting from their parents home, it is helpful to have frank discussions about such issues as:

  • Finances
  • (e.g. applying for scholarships and loans; who will be responsible for tuition, room and board, text books, other living expenses; will the student be expected to work part-time). Simpson University's Financial Aid office may be helpful in anticipating costs and seeking various forms of financial assistance.
  • Academic expectations
  • Communication and visitation
  • Telephone calls, visits to campus, visits home, e-mail; how much information do parents expect regarding course work, social life,etc.
  • Social activities
  • Transportation
  • Will the student have a bicycle and/or car on campus? How will he or she visit home during the semester?

Arriving and settling in...

Students quickly realize that they have entered a world very different from the one they have left behind. While it can be very exciting, fulfilling, and filled with wonderful opportunities, a period of psychological, emotional, social, and academic adjustment is a natural part of this transition. Students are likely to confront many challenges as they arrive and settle into the routine of university life.

  • Leaving familiar territory and traditions
  • Students leave behind family, friends-possibly a boyfriend or girlfriend, familiar places and customs, and familiar rules.

  • Managing new freedoms and responsibilities
  • Greater freedom requires greater personal responsibility. In the absence of daily parental oversight, students living in an apartment or residence hall must be fully responsible for waking up and getting to class on time, deciding when to study and when to socialize, when and what to eat, when to come home at night and when to go to bed, managing their money, doing their own laundry, and making daily decisions regarding their academic and social behaviors.

  • Changing relationships with parents and family
  • With greater independence and less frequent contact, the parent-child relationship may evolve into an adult-to-adult, rather than adult-to-child, relationship. This creates both challenges and opportunities for relationship growth for students and their parents. At times, it may be helpful for a student to meet with a counselor in the Counseling Center to discuss any feelings or events that may interfere with the adjustment process or satisfactory academic performance.

  • More demanding academic requirements and competition
  • Students may quickly recognize that they are now competing with other students who all were in the upper half of their high school class. Many college students were able to do well in high school without much effort or study and without developing the learning skills (e.g. note-taking, textbook reading, study skills) necessary to succeed in college. Students who are under-performing may find it very helpful to seek a tutor through individual assistance from other professionals.

  • Registering for classes and choosing a major
  • It is also the student's responsibility to meet with his or her advisor on a regular basis to determine the courses necessary for the next semester in order to remain in "good standing" and to register appropriately for the following semester's classes. If a student is unsure about a major or career direction, he or she should speak with a career counselor. The majority of students either do not know what major to pursue when they initially enroll in college or they change majors at least once during their college career as they learn more about themselves and their true interests, values, and abilities.

  • Time management
  • In high school, most students spend nearly 35 hours each week in class. In college, they may spend 12-17 hours in class. Some days, they may not even have any classes. These periods of non-class time during the day (and evening) can easily be spent in a variety of non-academic activities. Many students are not aware of the general guideline that, for every hour of class time, a student should spend approximately two hours studying and completing assignments and projects. In order to perform well academically and also have time for socializing, exercising, and leisure activity, both time management and organizational skills are critical. The Growth and Development Center offers assistance and individual counseling, which address issues of time management, effective decision-making and other personal issues.

  • Feeling overwhelmed by course work
  • Feeling overwhelmed by constant studying for quizzes and exams, reading assignments, completing projects, papers and other responsibilities is not unusual and can lead to procrastination, which only worsens the problem. Some students reveal perfectionistic tendencies (i.e. unrealistically high self-expectations or perceived parental expectations), which further immobilize their efforts, add to their discouragement and impede their effectiveness. Such issues (along with test and performance anxiety) are frequent in a college student population and may be discussed with counselors in the Counseling Center.

  • Learning to live in a world of differences
  • Learning to live in a world of diversity of ethnicity, religion, philosophical thoughts and beliefs, interests and values may be one of the most important developments during the college years. Students are confronted with innumerable new ideas in their courses and in their interactions with other students from very different backgrounds. Students, at times, may feel torn between remaining loyal to long-held family beliefs and making decisions based on new information and consistent with their own emerging values and goals.

What Parents Can Do?

Parents of first time in college freshman can play an important role in facilitating the adjustment of their new college student during this significant period of transition and, in so doing, can facilitate their own adjustment as well. The following guidelines may be helpful in this process.

Parents Have Feelings Too

Other University Resources

A broad network of resources is available throughout the University community to assist students in adjusting to the personal and academic demands of college. The array of student services offered by the division of Student Development represents a major University investment in the academic, personal and professional success of its students.

Adapted from University of South Florida Counseling Center's web site.