Ask Priscilla: What are some ways I can support my student in the first year and beyond?

College is a time of change for our students.  They are learning to make independent decisions, accept responsibility for themselves and others, develop consideration for others, and become financially independent. Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MOWe are parents are learning to change our way of thinking, allowing our students to grow.

Some common issues our students deal with are:

Living with others

College residents are often asked to share less-than-roomy quarters with strangers, possibly for the first time. For most students, this requires significant adjustment. While they’re making the adjustment, they may sound cranky and out of sorts.

Managing their time

Difficult academics, appealing activities, a brand-new living environment—all these new realities may make your student feel pulled in several different directions. At the same time, your student must now manage time and set priorities alone, without adult family members and teachers to do it for her or him.

Finding their place

Starting in the first semester, students are becoming acquainted with a new, exciting, multi-faceted social scene. As they progress through their college career, students continue to discover where they fit in amid developing relationships with Missouri State students, faculty and staff.

Supporting your student

  • Be a coach. Let your student know you’re supportive and approachable. Your student may need to think of you and talk to you not just as a parent or guardian, but also as a friend, a supportive onlooker and a sympathetic sounding board.
  • Don’t be judgmental. It may be tempting to ask your student, “Are you doing your homework?” But that’s a question better directed at a high school student. Instead, open-ended conversation starters such as “what organizations have you gotten involved with? or what’s your room like? and which class is challenging you the most? Why is that?” encourage your student to share his or her experiences with you.
  • Show respect. Acknowledge your student’s new independence and growing intellectual sophistication by asking his or her opinion on general social issues, current events and even family matters.
  • Get in synch. You can be more supportive if you know the academic pressures your student is facing, such as midterms and finals. Become familiar with important upcoming academic dates.
  • Expect some changes. Exposure to new people and a diverse environment will enrich your student’s development, but it may also influence how he or she views the family. Be prepared and don’t be hurt if your student seems dismissive or critical of typical family activities or routines.
  • Stay connected. E-mails, IMs, cell phone conversations and text messages are great, but today’s tech-savvy students love old-fashioned letters, cards and care packages as much as college students ever did.
  • Revisit the Parent & Family website. Our website will keep you up-to-date on campus activities and offers resources you can refer to you as you support your student. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/missouristatefamily and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bearsfamilies

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to Ask Priscilla at familyassociation@missouristate.edu or at (417) 836-3060.

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