What Parents Should Know When Students Come Home
Many students are leaving home for the first time when they enroll at Millikin. Although your student may have been experiencing homesickness while on campus, he/she will probably go through an adjustment period when re-entering the home environment. Remember, your student has been on his/her own for the past few months and many of their prior habits, such as sleeping, eating, and socializing may have changed. Welcome your student home by talking about these changes. You may want to set ground rules for your student while at home, but make sure your student is involved in this decision.
While your students may have their own room on-campus, that doesn’t mean that they don’t cherish the space they once had at home. Be sensitive to your student’s need for a space at home and do not change his/her room into a home office, fitness areas, or storage space, at least for the first year of college. With all the transitions they are making in the academic environment, your student needs to know the home environment will remain consistent.
Your student will likely encounter problems during the transition period to independent living. Please encourage your student to utilize the resources on-campus and seek out solutions to problems early. This is a good discussion to have when your student comes home for winter break. The second semester of the first year is often challenging for students. If you think your student may have a problem, talk to him/her about it. Encourage your student to talk to his/her professors and administrators, as they are here to help.
Continue to have an open dialogue with your student about your expectations for their performance in and out of the classroom. A frequent cause of student stress is parental expectations that seem unattainable. However students are often afraid to approach parents and risk losing the parents’ approval. Talk with your student about individual classes, roommate situations, activities they are involved in on-campus, and other commitments. Agree on what is attainable and urge your student to let you know when they are feeling stressed about expectations.
College academics can be very different from what a student has experienced in high school. A “straight A” student in high school can often struggle during the first year. It is important for you, as a parent, to support your student when and if they struggle, be aware of what resources are available on campus and urge them to utilize these resources. When your student receives his/her first grades over the winter break, sit down and talk to your student. It is not unusual for parents to be surprised by a few grades the first term. Once again, the key is to make your student feel comfortable enough to tell you when they are struggling so you won’t see any surprises on that grade report.
For most first-year students, January Formal Recruitment is the first time they have the opportunity to be involved in Greek organizations (fraternities and sororities). Your student may ask your advice on whether or not to participate in recruitment. There are students and administrators in Greek Life who can answer any questions about fraternity and sorority life.
Recruitment is a time to meet members of Greek organizations and learn about the opportunities that exist in these organizations. Going through recruitment does not mean your student will join a fraternity or sorority; rather, it is a time to explore. Your student will make a choice of whether or not to join a Greek organization.
Along with Greek organizations, there are also over 90 other student groups in which your student has the opportunity to be involved. These groups range from those with an academic focus to those with a special interest focus. Talk with your student about the activities that they may be involved with and discuss other opportunities that exist on campus to supplement their academic pursuits.
Being on your own means paying for things that were previously taken for granted as a younger adult. Items such as laundry detergent, toothpaste, and the occasional prescription can add up. Your student may be more used to spending money on luxury items such as apparel, electronic equipment, and restaurant meals.
Talk to your student about how he/she has been spending money and make sure your student understands how to budget for necessary items. Don’t forget that your student will need to purchase textbooks each semester and prices will vary depending on your student’s classes.
Let’s face it - many students are working more and more to help pay for the expenses associated with the college experience. Although a part-time job can help your student manage time and teach your student valuable life skills, sometimes a student needs more time to focus on academic commitments. Talk to your student about how to spend time wisely. For students with work-study as part of their financial aid packages, Millikin offers many on-campus, part-time jobs that may accommodate his/her class schedule.