How You Can Best Support Your Student
Viewing College as your student’s job
It is easy for caring parents to rush to solve problems and smooth out experiences for their students. Most parents just want their student’s life to be easier than their own. Yet, while your concern can be very comforting, it can also be harmful to a college student who is in the midst of the maturation process. Part of the college experience is learning to be more independent.
Your student will be experiencing exciting and challenging situations that they need to learn to handle on their own. As a parent, try to avoid rushing in; instead, think of the college experience as your students job. Below are some things to think about when you feel yourself coming to the rescue:
- If your working young adult had a job performance problem, would you call the boss to clarify the quality of the work your son or daughter is producing? What about contacting the professor if your student has an academic performance problem?
- If your working son/daughter expressed difficulty resolving personality conflicts with coworkers, would you contact his/her supervisor to clear this up? What about calling the Housing Director about your student’s roommate conflict?
- If your working adult fell behind in paying monthly telephone or utility bills, would you contact the city or phone company to work out a payment plan? What about contacting the college to clear up a parking ticket or unpaid lab fee?
Remember, going to college is your student’s job not yours. When they encounter problems in the college environment, the best thing you can do is to react as you would if they were having difficulty in the working environment. Offer support, answer questions, and point him/her to the right resources while emphasizing the importance of self-reliance. Learning to deal with problems on their own is a critical life skill that students need to develop, and it provides you the opportunity to begin to go.
(Adapted from Parents, Family, and the New College Student Experience, by Dr. Kent D. Beeler, 1998.)