Making the Most of the College Experience

Living on campus has many benefits that enrich the university experience and impacts student lives.  Students who live on campus tend to be more involved in campus activities, earn better grades and are more likely to graduate than their peers who live off campus.  Students also report that living on campus provides an opportunity to meet new friends or to live near friends, seek help with coursework, and living close by campus classroom buildings.

Some strategies you can discuss with your student to enhance their success are described in the remainder of this article. It is never too late to have these conversations!

Getting Involved in Campus Life

There are many on-campus events and activities for your student.  Resident Assistants (RAs) plan activities in each building and promote student participation in larger campus events. Participation helps promote a sense of belonging, will help your student meet other students, and learn new things.  Students who are involved in campus life report being more satisfied with their college experience.  Ask your student if they are attending any events and activities.

Help Your Students Develop a Budget
For many students, this may be a “first” time they are truly in charge of their own spending. Many are not very good at it stretching their money out between paydays, not to mention, the entire semester! Discuss developing a budget with your student and assist them in doing so. Have periodic detailed conversations (weekly or monthly) about how they are doing with their finances. Many student go to fast food places or have food delivered to them, which is more expensive than learning to make your own food at home or having a campus dining plan.

Sending a Student to College is An Adjustment for Families
Many of the parents we speak with mention this adjustment. Parents may under-estimate the sense of “loss” they feel when sending a student to college for the first time. This is a normal transition. Encourage your child to engage in their experience and reach out to meet people on campus instead of coming home often. Students need your support to make their own decisions while at college.

Discuss How Often Your Student & You Will Talk
Students need to be responsible for their own decisions at college. Consider stepping back just a little to let your student learn to work things out for themselves. Yet, don’t step back too far that they feel you have abandoned them.

One parent suggested using FaceTime or Skype to communicate because one can notice non-verbal and verbal cues to how your student is doing. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear from your student as often as you would like. This is most likely a good sign that they are adjusting to college, meeting friends, and getting involved in campus life. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to reach out to your student if you haven’t heard from them in a while. If you talk with them about the expected frequency of contact, if may save both of you some frustration.

Anticipate What Coming Back Home Will Be Like For Your Student
Things may not feel the same for your student when they come home. They may change – their hair, their dress, their music, their expectations, etc. They may have a different type of friend group. Don’t be alarmed, this may be very good for them! Several parents have recommended leaving their bedroom as is, so they have a comfortable and familiar place to return home. You may want to discuss which “house rules” apply when they come home the first few times, now that your student is a young adult who has been living with different rules while at college.

Ask About Roommates
Having a roommate is most often one of the best and most positive experiences a student can have while away at college. For some students it can also a challenging experience. Ask your student about their roommate relationships. Offer tips and advice about adjusting to a new roommate. Please encourage them to speak with their student Resident Assistant if they have any issues with their new roommate and not to wait too long. They are also welcome to speak with the professional staff member who oversees their building, the Area Coordinator.

Encourage Your Student To Use Campus Resources
There are many offices and people who are here to help students. Encourage your student to use campus resources such as the Dean of Students Office, Counseling and Health, Academic Advising, and the Office of Residence Life, just to name a few. Contact information can be found on the University’s web site using the directory.

Encourage Your Students To Use Faculty Office Hours
Faculty have scheduled office hours which are available for student visits and questions about assignments, course content, and just establishing a positive relationship with faculty and instructors.

We Are Here To Help!
You may contact the Office of Residence Life, (920) 465-2040,  with questions.  Although we are not able to share private information, a question you can ask is “if a student is in need of help regarding a particular issue, what would you recommend they do?”

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