Tips for Parents

Helpful Hints for Your New Role 
as the Parent of a College Student


You and your student are embarking on a new journey into the world of higher education. Although your roles will be changing, students continue to need parental support through this journey.

  • Let them know that you have confidence in them and their abilities to achieve both academically and socially.

  • Encourage them to get connected to student life by getting involved in organizations, clubs and other activities on campus.

  • Be a good listener. Ask questions and allow your student to discuss all aspects of their college life while you reserve judgment.

  • Support them in their own decision making process, rather than solving their problems for them.

  • Stay in touch through letters, email, phone or in person (make sure not to over do it). Even if they don't reciprocate, it's important they know you're there and available when they need to discuss events in their lives.

  • Be aware that the first several weeks of college may be a difficult transition for both parents and students.


Warning Signs of a Troubled Student


  • Changes in academic performance: motivation, grades or class attendance

  • Changes in behavior: energy, personal hygiene, speech, mood or appetite

  • Changes in relationships: death of a family member or close friend, difficulties in romantic relationships or conflict in close relationships

  • References to suicide: direct statements about suicide, statements about hopelessness or helplessness, or pessimism about the future

  • References to excessive alcohol or other drug use


How Parents Can Help


  • Know the signs that may indicate psychological or emotional distress.

  • Don't ignore disturbing behavior; speak to your student when you notice something unusual.

  • Communicate directly and in a caring manner about the behaviors concerning you.

  • Avoid being critical or judgmental.

  • Be willing to listen to what the student has to say.

  • Ask directly how you can help.

  • Encourage responsibility and independence by helping the student define the problem and identify possible solutions.

  • Recommend counseling as an option.