Student/Parent Relationship

You know your student better than professors, advisors, staff and peers and you, therefore, have the best understanding of your student’s talents and abilities. You have observed his/her academic and social behaviours over time and can best predict the kind of encouragement and help needed.

No doubt, over his or her academic career, your student will encounter changing situations, challenging circumstances and hopefully, some rewarding successes along the way. All students at one time or another will seek and expect parental support as an anchor for security and survival.

As a parent, you know that one of the biggest challenges can sometimes be communication. Showing your student support during the transition to university can have a positive effect on success. Now is the time to begin talking to your student. Find out his or her perspective on starting university.

Ask your student the following questions:

  • What are your reasons for going to university?
  • What things are you looking forward to?
  • About which issues do you have a concern?
  • What can we do to help you?

Discuss the following adjustment issues with your student and about his or her feelings about each one:

  • having a roommate
  • perceptions about the changing dynamics of home life
  • time management
  • new responsibilities
  • acquiring help
  • studying longer
  • reading more
  • writing papers
  • establishing friendships
  • managing employment and money
  • academic honesty

Information on this page adapted from N.O.D.A (National Orientation Director Association): Orientation Planning Manual, by Cathie Hatch

How parents can offer support to students

  • Support and encourage good study habits
  • Give them the freedom to succeed or fail, and to take responsibility for their education
  • Give them the freedom to learn how to cope with the new environment
  • Give them encouragement and support to keep trying and to do well
  • Adjust household chores to make up for additional time required by the school
  • Relieve them from the responsibility of some of the time-consuming tasks around the house

Information from this section adopted with permission from Wayne State University Advising Center

What Your Student Wants You to Know

  • Being a full-time student is like having a full-time job
  • University is not a 9 to 5 job; evening and weekend study is required
  • Enormous amounts of time are demanded by college course work
  • Administrative processes take time and may not be completed within a single visit
  • There is a great amount of social stress that is caused by the change from high school to university
  • Students feel a great amount of academic stress in the first year of university
  • There are other expenses in addition to tuition and books

Information from this section adopted with permission from Wayne State University Advising Center

University May Causes Relationship Changes

  • The University environment encourages independence
    The University views the student as an adult and will deal directly with the student while giving parents little or no information Don't worry about changes in clothing or hairstyle. Changes in appearance are one way that students may begin to assert their individuality and try to fit in with the new "adult" environment. However, if there is an extreme change in behaviour, this may signal a need for professional counselling

Typical Changes in Students: 

  • A desire to make their own decisions, even poor ones
  • A desire to try something new or radically different from previous interests
  • More need for verbal reassurance
  • Strong negative reactions to suggestions
  • A new set of friends Changes in style of clothing or hair
  • Maybe less willing to seek the advice of parents
  • May avoid questions regarding school and friends

Information from this section adopted with permission from Wayne State University Advising Center

Quick Tips

  • Keep your perspective - give things time to work themselves out!
  • Take the view that university is just one more milestone. You'll survive this just like all the others!
  • Resist rushing in and save the day for your student
  • Listen, and then listen some more
  • Allow students to develop new capacities, interests and directions before they define a major
  • Don't worry about career consequences of choosing a particular university program; often it's the experience gained along the way that really counts
  • Believe that your son/daughter will succeed - and tell him/her so!
  • Keep lines of communication open - verbal and written
  • You've done your job - it's now up to them with your support

Information from this section adopted with permission from Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky