Support your student by staying connected. Feel free to communicate with staff via phone or e-mail, but please be aware that information sharing is limited for students who are 18 years old and older.
Your student is experiencing new viewpoints and perspectives that my challenge prior belief systems. Give him or her the opportunity to share feelings and ideas with you. Understand that changes in viewpoints, behavior, dress, eating and sleeping habits, and relationships with parents are all to be expected during the college years. However, if you suspect that some of these changes may be signs of bigger problems (alcohol or drug abuse, academic problems, etc.), trust your instincts. Your student may need you to refer him or her to the appropriate resources for help.
Be Knowledgeable About Campus Resources
Help your student to navigate the campus by referring him or her to the appropriate resources is one of the best ways for you to mentor your college student during this transition to adulthood. Become familiar with campus resources by utilizing this website, or by contacting a staff member. You can demonstrate that you are interested in your student’s life at college, and at the same time, you empower your student to solve his or her own problems.
Continue to Have Difficult Conversations
You still have a tremendous influence on your son or daughter’s behavior. In college, your son or daughter will have to make their own decisions about what time to get up in the morning, when to study, when to exercise, which organizations to participate in, whether or not to eat healthily, whether or not to drink alcohol, how much alcohol to drink if any, and whether or not to engage in sexual relationships. While you cannot force your student to behave exactly as you would want them to, parents can share their values and beliefs with their students on these topics. Studies show that parents influence their child’s behavior regarding drugs, alcohol, and risky sexual behavior even after their child leaves for college. Provide your student with the facts on these issues, and empower them to distinguish between good and bad decisions when it comes to their behavior, health, and safety. Create an atmosphere of open communication, and your student will not only appreciate that you respect him or her as an adult, but he or she will also be more likely to turn to you for guidance.
Your student will change. College and the experiences associated with it can effect changes in social, vocational, and personal behavior and choices. It is natural, inevitable, and it can be inspiring. Often though, it is a pain in the neck. You cannot stop change, you may never understand it, but it is within your power (and to you and your student’s advantage) to accept it. Remember that your son or daughter will be basically the same person that you raised.
Trust Your Student
College is also a time for students to discover who they are. Finding oneself is a difficult enough process without feeling that the people whose opinions you respect most are second-guessing your own second-guessing.
*Retrieved from http://parents.umich.edu