How parents can support their college students - Part 2

Published by Kathleen von Kampen 6 months ago on Tue, Jul 7, 2020 2:27 PM

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Adjusting to College Life  
By guest writer, Rebekah Freed, Director of Student Development

 

Three of the biggest areas where we see new college students struggle with adjusting to college life are academics, homesickness or loneliness, and mental health. Here are a few tips of what you can do as a parent to help your child adjust and navigate these challenges.

Academics

One of the biggest challenges is balancing classwork with athletics, music groups, clubs, organizations or activities in which a student may be participating. In high school classes are generally structured, where now they may have a few hours between classes. It feels like so much more time, but then suddenly students are surprised by how much work for each class they have.

How you can help:

  • Encourage your child to talk to their professors.  Concordia’s professors work here because they love and care for the students. It’s much easier to get ahead of problems or challenges at the beginning than trying to play catch up.
  • Encourage your child to make use of resources available to them.  Our free writing and tutoring center is available for everyone.
  • Encourage your child to check their email.  This is the main way most professors communicate with their students outside of class.

Homesickness and Loneliness

First of all, homesickness is really common. Most of the time it’s not a sign of immaturity or a serious lack of adjustment to college, it’s just part of the process. For some students, this hits right away. Sometimes it comes later on, a few weeks into the semester. Others never really experience this.

How you can help:

  • Help them see the value in not coming home the first few weekends.  It’s hard for you. It’s hard for them, but finding community is tough and the first few weeks are critical in this process. Staying here at least the first few weekends helps create space for connection here.
  • Stay Connected.  Calls, texts, mail, and packages from you can help to let them know they’re okay and still on your mind. On a related note: telling them all about the things they’re missing back home is generally not helpful.
  • Remember: You’ll Hear More Bad than Good.  They are more likely to contact you when things are NOT going well. You literally may only hear the hard stuff. Be prepared for that and don’t over react. Be proactive and ask about the things that are going well too, maybe even before they bring up concerns.

Mental Health

One of the growing concerns on college campuses is the increase of mental health challenges among students. A 2016 report showed a 50% increase over the year before for students seeking mental health services, and it has continued to increase since then. 

We have many resources around campus to help students dealing with these health challenges and to help prevent it. If your child feels supported and encouraged by you, and is getting encouragement from you to use any resource available, this will help them navigate these and any challenges they may face.

Some of our resources you can point them toward:

  • Freshman Advisors
  • Wellness Center – Nurse, Doctor, and Counseling Staff
  • Free visits with the nurse and doctor
  • Free 1-on-1 and group short-term counseling
  • Let’s Talk – a brief drop-in confidential conversation with a counselor about something that’s on your student’s mind
  • Resident Assistants and Student Life Staff
  • Campus Pastor, Ryan Matthias and Spiritual Growth Opportunities on Campus
  • Peer Ministry Program – Students can get matched up with a trained peer to talk confidentially about transitions to college or any other issue they may experience.

We hope this helps you navigate your role when you see your child struggling. Also remember that struggle, with support from friends and family, can lead to great growth!