College Challenges are Growth Opportunities

Sometimes it happens during the first week of classes and other times it takes place just prior to graduation. It may be a phone call or an e-mail to home. Your student may be in tears or expressing a flurry of fears about one topic or many.

For families, this can be disheartening.  But it shouldn't be overly surprising. College can mean freedom, excitement and new experiences.  It also can be a time where social, academic, athletic, financial and other challenges affect a student's mental, physical and emotional well being.

Freshmen may face academic demands, social adjustments, roommate conflicts and family separation issues if they live in the residence halls, as well as freedoms relating to time management and encounters with sex, drugs and/or drinking.

Upperclassmen may face similar issues, such as roommate conflicts and demanding coursework, but they may have pressures associated with competitive internship opportunities and acclimation issues that sometimes arise after immediately returning from studying overseas.  

Seniors, who see graduation looming only too soon, may be stressed about job opportunities, graduate school acceptance and relationship commitments. They also may have to face moving out of their family home, relocating out of state and repaying student loans.

Commuter students may have their own concerns. They have to devote extra effort to meeting people outside of their classes and getting involved with activities that may meet hours after their last class finishes.  In addition, they live in a dual world of home and college where they may not always feel fully connected at either end.

Parent Pointers
It may be temping to offer advice and call BW on behalf of your student.  But these are not the best ways to support your student.  Learning to negotiate with a roommate, talk with a professor and utilize campus resources (such as Counseling Services, Learning Center and Writing Lab) helps a student gain self reliance, confidence, communication skills and other attributes that will benefit him/her in the workplace as well as in social settings.

The best approach may be to listen when your student needs to air feelings.  It is easy to get emotionally involved when your student is upset.  But sometimes all he/she needs to do is air frustrations to a compassionate family member. 

By listening, offering limited advice and respecting his/her decisions, you are encouraging growth. If your student makes mistakes along the way, support him/her and encourage resilience. After all, college is a time to enrich not only the mind but one's experiences.

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