Parents and Families: Getting Through The First Year
Congratulations, your student is heading off to college! As a parent, you are likely feeling proud and excited, but also a bit apprehensive. The first year of college is a significant transition for both students and their families. It is a time of change, growth, and new experiences. We understand that this can be an overwhelming time, and you may be wondering how you can best support your student during their first year of college. This page is designed to provide you with information and tips to help you and your student navigate the challenges of the first year of college. From academics to social life, we hope that the resources provided here will help you and your student have a successful first year of college.
Now is the time for your student to start taking responsibility for themselves. We know that you want to make sure that your student has the best experience possible and gets all the assistance they may need. Every student experiences problems adjusting to college. You can help by staying involved in the student’s life and the life of the College in appropriate ways. Instead of intervening on behalf of the student to “fix” whatever you may perceive to be the problem, ask your student what steps they have taken to address the issue. Guide them in taking charge of their own experience. One of the most important outcomes of the college experience is developing the professional and life skills they will need to have by time they graduate. These include:
- problem-solving skills
- interpersonal skills
- communication skills
- leadership skills
If you over-facilitate the challenges your student faces, then you rob them of the unique opportunity in college to develop these skills. While we will do everything we can to help your student succeed, even failure can be part of the learning process.
Understand the difference between learning in high school and learning in college.
|Class Schedule||Attend classes on all weekdays, at the same time from morning to afternoon.||May attend classes few days a week (incl. weekends), few hours a week, scheduled from early morning to evening, and large breaks.|
|Assignments||”Hand-holding” from teachers, regularly assigned homework, and continued reminders and guidance.||Professors may not do “hand-holding” and work may not be assigned regularly or solely based on exams. Students are responsible for deadlines.|
|Teacher/Professor Relationship||”Hand-holding” which means contact is closer, more often, and may follow up with students and parents on their academic performance.||Less to no “hand-holding”, contact may not be as close, less often. Professors have open office hours to which the student must reach out for help.|
|Grades||Every class has the same grading structure. Minimal effort may be needed to achieve a good academic standing. Competition with other students is low.||Classes tend to have different grading structures dependent on the Professor and course. Minimal effort may not be enough, greater effort may be needed for a good academic standing. Competition is higher with more students.|
|Students||Students tend to stay with the same group of classmates in all of their classes. Connections may be easier to make.||Students have classes with different students in almost every class (except a first-year’s first semester). Connections may be harder to make.|
|Counseling & Advising||Students can rely on teachers and guidance counselors to help them make decisions, create their class schedule, and give advice.||Students rely on themselves to make decisions and create their class schedule. There are many resources available such as advisors, counseling, and more but students must seek them out.|
|Parent Involvement/Freedom||Students mostly depend on their parents. Parents are regularly involved in all aspects of their students. Freedom is limited, and must follow parental boundaries and rules.||Students depend less on their parents and more on themselves. Parents are not as involved, abiding by FERPA. More freedom to create their own boundaries and take on their own responsibilities.|
While the differences of high school and college may be a bit intimidating and worrisome to parents and first-year students, college education is the foundation for future opportunity. Many students and parents may feel that a job takes precedence over school, that school must fit into a work schedule. However, unless the student now has the job they want for the rest of their life, they should not jeopardize their future by jeopardizing their academic careers. Being a student is more than a full-time job and should be made an unquestioned priority.
With all the comparisons given, even good students may perform poorly their first year. Parents should know what we tell students in their first year, that admission into Baruch does not guarantee them admission into the degree program here of their choice. Each Baruch undergraduate degree has certain application requirements for its majors. Poor academic performance can exclude the student from ever being able to pursue the major of their choice at Baruch College. Students in their first year must transform themselves into self-motivated learners to prepare for their future coursework.
Recognize that your student is shaping an identity.
During the college years your student will expand their horizons, challenge previously held notions, and meet many new people. Students may alter their beliefs or lifestyle in ways that may create conflict at home. The student needs a safe space to explore their identity knowing that changing and becoming a person in their own right will not mean sacrificing your love. These transformations can be frightening to the student and to you, but as the student emerges fully into adulthood a new relationship and bond emerges between parent and child. Things may never be the same but that does not mean they will deteriorate. You can help by stepping back rather than stepping in or stepping away. Allow the student to emerge. Throughout the college years, the student is grappling with “Who am I?” and “What do I want to be?” questions. Be there to help the student navigate this journey, but let them guide your role in this process. Be an empathic listener. Students will be testing out career and life directions. Allow them to discover their strengths, interests, and values and act on them. Allow them to fulfill their own vision for their lives. Don’t expect them to live out your fantasies for you. There are many paths to a rich and meaningful life. Let them find their path and celebrate it.