Starting college is a new experience and can be a little intimidating too! But not just for you, for your parents too. Especially if you’re their first child to let go, this can be a very difficult time for them.
So, what can you, as a student, do to help your parents be confident in your first year away? I asked my parents and other relatives what information helped put their minds at ease as I began my journey at WSU.
If both you and your parents are prepared and informed, the transition is smoother, and you can just focus on having fun getting ready for college!
I would encourage all first-year students to think about these things as they prepare for freshman year. This is not everything that you and your parents need to know, but they are things that are important to do some research on.
It’s helpful for your parents to have a good idea of what kind of environment you will be surrounded by. Gather as much information as you can about what kind of extracurricular activities there are available. Be informed about the security resources on your campus, so that you and your parents are confident in your safety while on campus.
Here at WSU, campus security is based out of Sheehan, one of our residence halls, which is close to the student union and other residence halls. Code blue emergency phone poles are stationed around campus (the blue poles) in case any student feels unsafe on campus. In addition, students can sign up for StarAlerts, which sends emergency-only text messages and emails to keep them informed and safe.
It’s also helpful for your parents to have a clear description of your Welcome Week schedule. This will reassure them that you are getting the assistance you need to become acclimated to the school right away. Your parents want to make sure that your hall staff will help you to get settled into your new home and that your orientation leader helps you get around campus.
Your parents have had you living under their roof up until this new chapter of your life. They were able to ensure that you had everything you needed, that you had enough food, and a safe living environment.
Letting your parents know about the specifics of your room and residence hall helps them understand that you have adequate facilities. Give them a list of amenities that are included, and the dimensions of your room to help with the packing and planning process.
Having a clear idea of what hall staff is available to students (RA’s, hall directors, desk assistants) is helpful to parents as well. If they know that staff is available and willing to help, they will know they placed their child into good hands.
You’re paying to go to college to get an education, so a feel of the academics of a school is important for parents. Don’t be afraid to get in contact with professors and other faculty on campus before you get there. The faculty at WSU is always willing to help you, and they want to see you succeed in the transition into your first year.
Contact the head of your department and email your professors with any questions to better understand the program you’ll be in. This will help your parents understand what can be expected in your major.
When you get assigned an academic advisor, meet with them right away and regularly. Gather information such as the number of credits needed to graduate, registration procedures, and other opportunities within your academic major. Your advisor is there to help you and can probably relate to what your parents are feeling.
So far, your parents have been your main resource and they want to know that you are set up for success as you begin college.
Some on-campus resources you can make your parents aware of are the health services available to you, tutoring services, parking services, and technology assistance/support. Coming up with a financial plan to pay bills/tuition payments is huge, and you can help your parents out in that process by being informed about how, when, and where to make payments.
A few off-campus resources your parents will want to know about are transportation options around town, entertainment in the community, recreational activities (bike rentals, lake passes, etc.), and nearby grocery stores and pharmacies.
Although it seems like your parents just automatically know everything, sending their kids off to a new college can be a scary experience for them. But you can help them feel confident and ready to let you go by being informed about these things. They will appreciate it more than you can imagine!
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