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Helping Your Student Through Transitions

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Review this list of tips from the Center for Academic Success to help your student transition through challenging times in their college career.

Since the start of the semester it’s likely that you’ve heard about all of the happenings on campus, in and out of the classroom. But you might also have heard your student talk some about frustration, disappointment, or disillusionment of some kind, or maybe you’ve heard your student say that SU wasn’t the right decision. As parents, the natural inclination is to rescue. However, in the vast majority of situations, the frustration or disappointment can be quickly turned around with some pointed questions and reassuring words to your student. Here are some ideas:

1. If your student is struggling with the adjustment to on-campus living, you might ask whether or not the Resident Assistant on the hall has been involved. RA’s are trained to assist with establishing noise, sleep, study and visitation boundaries, among other things, and can be a resource in case of conflict between roommates.

2. How is your student doing in class? This is the million-dollar question, of course! The Early Warning System, which many of you learned about during Parent Orientation, kicks off next week; faculty are asked to “flag” students who are not attending, not performing, or not engaging well with the course material. Center for Academic Success staff follows up with those students immediately, and 98% (really!) of the time, the situation gets resolved and the student moves through the rest of the semester successfully. If your student mentions to you that they’ve received an Early Warning notice, please remind them (and yourselves!) that this is simply a warning, and that there are lots of staff and faculty available to help overcome the obstacle, whatever that might be.

3. The first round of exams/papers/projects typically hits in mid-September, and there can be some anxiety associated with this time. It is a great time to remind your student that there are lots of ways to ensure strong performance ahead of time, such as a visit to the Debby Ellis Writing Center, departmental tutoring hours, or the Center for Academic Success. These are all resources that good students use!

4. It is this point in the fall semester when juniors and seniors may become increasingly anxious about the next steps in their lives. In an uncertain economic climate, it can be daunting to think about career development. There are lots of fantastic opportunities out there for bright, well-prepared students (YOUR students) and many of these opportunities require an early start. A visit with Career Services is a good move!

5. Lastly, it is not uncommon for new students in particular to be entertaining thoughts of leaving Southwestern. The reality of the workload and life on campus has begun to set in, and the stress of new demands can be overwhelming for some. As a parent, it is very helpful to remind students that all change requires some time to integrate, and new places and experiences can be challenging. But so much changes after Fall Break, and it truly is too soon to make any kinds of decisions about leaving. As always, if a student is perceived to be in danger, we will always act quickly to assist.