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Advice for Parents

Presidential Fellow Dolapo Anyanwu offers the following advice for parents of incoming first-year students.

Thriving Academically at Gordon College

Here are some strategies that will help your son/daughter succeed at Gordon:

  • Attending classes regularly
  • Taking good notes
  • Participating in study groups
  • Reading before class
  • Making the most of the Academic Support Center
  • Meeting with professors after class to discuss aspects of the course that are not clear

Time management is key. In college, students engage in many aspects of campus life, including academics, socializing, extra-curricular activities, campus jobs, etc. Encourage your child to:

  • Maintain a calendar in order to keep track of important activities
  • Avoid distractions from social media
  • Be balanced in the time they allocate to different activities
  • Keep their priorities in good order

To help foster independence in your child:

  • Study the Gordon College website to familiarize yourself with the different options and opportunities available to your child to make the most of his/her education
  • Review the Orientation materials
  • Be aware of services available to help your child when he/she needs help with health, emotional, or other personal issues

When you do these things, you will know how and where to direct your child when he/she turn to you for help. When you are not leading the way, but pointing them to where they can find help for themselves, it will nurture their sense of independence and responsibility as emerging adults.

Keep an eye out for indicators of poor academic adjustment, such as:

  • Calling home or going home frequently (This is normal and okay in the early days, but as your child begins to adjust and make new friends, the frequency should reduce.)
  • Skipping classes
  • Difficulty keeping up with course load

How to help: While it is difficult to watch your child struggle, understand that students can be resourceful—that is why they were accepted into college in the first place. If they are encouraged to seek help early, and from the right place, some of the issues can be resolved quite easily. So, in order to help:

  • Avoid rescuing behaviors
  • Give consistent caring communication
  • Encourage them to seek help from their academic advisors or from the Academic Support Center

Things your child should know before going to college:

  1. How to write a check and balance a checkbook.
  2. How to use a credit card wisely and how to evaluate the myriad offers they’ll receive once they’re at school.
  3. How to budget. If you give your student money, be clear about what it’s supposed to cover.
  4. How to do laundry. Teach them to separate their darks and whites so they’ll avoid that first-wash-of-the-semester “pink glow.”
  5. The importance of personal hygiene. Remind them that they’ll be buying their own deodorant and shampoo (and their friends will like them better if they do so regularly). Remind them to change their sheets more than once per semester.
  6. Lock their doors. Students want to be trusting of their friends, but it’s important to always lock rooms, and to not let nonresidents into their residence halls after hours.
  7. How to be assertive in communicating. Your student will run into situations where he or she will feel pressure—a group of students is going to the bars, or a roommate is staying up late and listening to loud music. Help them think about their choices (in the case of pressure to drink) and how to be assertive in communicating those choices.
  8. How to be responsible consumers of their education. Encourage them to ask for academic and emotional support—there are lots of people who want to provide assistance and numerous services are available to help students, including sessions on study skills and library use, meetings with academic advisers, and visits with professors during office hours.

References

  • Mullendore, R. H., & Hatch C. (2000). Helping Your First-Year College Student
  • Succeed: A Guide for Parents. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.
  • http://www.collegeview.com/articles/article/college-parents
  • Yazedjian, A., Toews, M. L., Sevin, T., & Purswell, K. E. (2008). “It’s a whole new world:” A qualitative exploration of college students’ definitions of and strategies for college success. Journal of College Student Development, 49(2), 141-154.
  • Helping your child adjust to college life: http://www.uiowa.edu/~ptimes/issues03-04/summer03-04/