Resources to Make College Life a Breeze for Parents
Based on our experience of meeting, watching, and intervening with students year after year, our staff counselors have developed a list of issues that frequently challenge college students. We note them below along with some recommendations for both parents and students in overcoming them:
So Many Choices/Temptations
The freedom and variety that confronts freshmen in every area of college life can lead some beginners to take on too much of some things, and not leave enough time or energy for others. Handling 12 to 15 academic credits requires personal goals and careful planning. Students who begin with a schedule that includes as many blocks of time devoted to preparation and study and fewer blocks of time for extracurricular activities will be better able to make the college adjustment than those who do the opposite.
College experiences include the challenges of new relationships: peers, roommates, professors and advisors. Negotiating can be a struggle as students grapple with asserting their independence as young adults. Challenges may arise when attempting to identify and assert their needs within these varied relationships. Parents can play an important role in this process by encouraging college students to trust themselves and by giving them the support, freedom and encouragement to assert themselves in ways that promote healthy interactions with others.
On Their Own/Alone
For parents as well as new students, the transition to college can signal the first time one is separated from the family unit. This often results in emotional repercussions for both parents and students. Feeling a sense of loss, sadness and anxiety is not uncommon during this adjustment. However, as your son or daughter becomes more accustomed to college life, he or she will begin to develop a sense of belonging away from home which is necessary for healthy adjustment. As parents, you need to trust that you have adequately prepared your loved one to function as a successful young adult. It's a good time for parents to develop new interests of their own. This can be a period of growth for everyone!
A freshman may find it necessary to miss a class here and there. For some students, realizing that they've fallen behind leads to staying out for a few more days in the hopes of getting caught up, but more often, it leads to getting further behind. Then, fear of facing the professor adds an emotional as well as academic toll. The best solution is to commit to one's class schedule, bar any sickness or emergency.
Time Out/Out of Control
The intense race through courses, papers and tests leads students to search for a change of pace. Time outside of classes allows students to get to know one another, to exchange ideas, and to refine their social skills. However, when these events are mixed with alcohol or drugs, things can get out of hand rapidly. Obviously, engaging in heavy or regular drinking or drugging does nothing to create a successful academic record (or social life). In addition, spending an evening with people they don't yet know well, with beer as the social lubricant, can end in pain for far too many people. Encourage your daughter or son to go out with groups and return with the same friends. Looking out for each other can cement relationships and prevent tragedy that could change their lives.
Eating It Up/Feeling Down
With all of the excitement (and anxiety) of moving to college, concerns about body image, self-esteem and dieting can be detrimental to a successful college experience. Students can use the college resources such as the Health Services to obtain help in ensuring healthy eating and exercise routines and avoid falling prey to the stereotypes that affect young people and promote eating disorders. Consultation, treatment and referral resources are available.
New Messages/Old Baggage
We are fond of noting that college is an opportunity for new beginnings. Yet, it's also true that old feelings of failure or the remnants of earlier life struggles can be brought along by a new student -and can inhibit success if they aren't unpacked. Workshops that address developmental concerns or build skills and individual or group counseling can go a long way toward increasing self esteem, confidence and a record of personal and academic accomplishment. If you're worried and want help in planning to assist your daughter or son, feel free to call us at 716.888.2620. We share your hopes that these will be the best years of their young lives.
Facing the Challenge
Alcohol and Drugs on the College Campus: On campuses all over the nation, the concern about alcohol and other drug abuse is shared by those in every facet of college life, including parents, administrators, students, faculty and staff. Many questions arise from this valid concern.
How can I tell if someone has a problem?
What would the signs be? And most important, how can I tell someone that I'd like him or her to seek help? Of course, as parents, your most pressing concern is most likely with your own son or daughter's behavior.
We at the Counseling Center can help with problems related to alcohol and other drug use and abuse. Should you have concerns about your child's behavior, you may call a counselor regarding the best way to address this concern with your son or daughter. It is never to early to speak with him or her in a loving yet concerned manner if you suspect that alcohol or other drugs are hindering your child's college experience. Pick up the phone and call the Counseling Center at 716.888.2620.