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Parent Partnership: Surviving the first two weeks

August 10th, 2012 | Becky Spain

The first couple of weeks of college life are critical for many students in the overall success of their college goals. Research tells us that by the end of week two, many students have already made up their minds as to whether or not they will return for a second year of college.

As you know, this transition time can be stressful for students.  They have made a lot of changes in their lives, which may include leaving parents and many of their friends behind.  Most students are living in a new place, some are sharing a room for the first time in their life and several are adjusting to the academic challenges of higher education, to name just a few of their stressors.

The good news is that there is much you can do as parents to encourage and support your student through this transition.

Parents often ask me how soon – and how often – they should contact their students. I always start my answer by asking, “How often did you communicate before they left for college?” The rule of thumb is to stay in contact with your student at nearly same level they are used to. In other words, if it is typical for you and your child to text throughout the day, you should continue to text a couple of times a day. If they are used to having a long conversation with you each day, that pattern should continue most days. By pulling back just a little during this transition time, you can give your student more freedom while helping them maintain a sense of security. In time, you will arrive at a comfort level in the frequency of communication.

Speaking of communication … if you don’t already text, now is the time to learn. Texting is by far the preferred method of communication for your student’s generation, and it is an easy way to send brief notes of encouragement in a way that will be meaningful to your student. In fact, you should utilize all the technology that was not available when you were in college – by emailing, Skyping and texting, you will be able to stay connected to your child in a way that makes this transition easier for you both.

If your student seems to be stressed throughout this adjustment (and most do), you may want to recommend some of the following tips for managing stress in a positive way:

  • Time Management – Manage your time with a notebook, planner, computer program or phone app.
  • Set Goals – Make your goals realistic.  When you set large goals, set a series of smaller goals that lead up to your larger goal.
  • Prioritize – Every day, start by prioritizing what you need to get done that day.  Then prioritize your week and even your month.
  • Spend Time Alone – Find some space to be alone, whether you use this time to think or just enjoy the quiet.
  • Exercise – Take time to enjoy some exercise several times a week.  This is a great way to work off stress while staying healthy.
  • Eat well – Your body needs fuel to keep both your muscles and your mind going strong.
  • Sleep – Set seven to eight hours a night as a goal.  It might sound unrealistic, but the extra energy, clarity of thought and reduced stress will be your reward.
  • Talk about it – Find a friend and talk it out.  Sharing your concerns helps to lighten the load.
  • Relax – Take time to relax.  Whatever is fun for you and not a chore is relaxation.
  • Relaxation Techniques – Take several deep breaths, close your eyes and think about a favorite spot before taking a test or to unwind before studying.

For more information on these and other stress-reducing ideas, here is a great resource: Stress Management Techniques for College Students.

Please feel free to contact me if you ever feel your student needs help with issues they are facing on campus.

Want more? Check out the free counseling services that Evangel also offers to help students during their time at college.

Becky Spain

Director of Retention

As director of the Office of Retention, Becky Spain works to identify common student obstacles and assists both students and parents through transitions and other challenges. She is also an adjunct professor, teaching courses such as Personal Finance and Personal Leadership.

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