Some timeless advice for parents of new and old students alike.
From the students:
#1: How do you want to stay connected with your parents via phone, text, mail,
and visits? How often?
My mom and I usually talk on the phone once a day for about 5-10 minutes, but
we are probably closer than some other pairs! We established beforehand that this
would be the general communication plan (very informally), and I think that's important
so neither parent nor student gets let down. Other than Family Weekend, my family
is too far away to visit - but I knew that would be the case coming to Hendrix from
so far away.
I usually call my parents every other day and text them throughout the day. I
try to make time to visit them or have them visit me about once a month.
#2: What do you want your parents to ask about? What is off-limits?
Especially at first, I think it's important to keep it as open-ended as possible
--"How was your day?" and "How are your classes going?" Since freshmen are still
figuring out the little things for themselves, forget about trying to explain everything
to them. I think the key is for students to accept that their parents will want
to ask questions, and for parents to accept that their students may be overwhelmed
with new experiences that are hard to describe "if you weren't there...."
I like it when my parents ask about classes, projects, and friends. How am I doing? Are classes
going well? How did your test/quiz go? What did you eat today? What are your
plans for the weekend?
I don't really
have any off limits subjects but I don't like it when they tell me not to go to
parties and that I should focus on only school because I am an adult now and I should
be allowed to make my own decisions and learn from them.
#3: What advice has your parent given you that has been helpful?
- To exercise: I can't say I usually follow this advice, but I am thankful
that I have it nagging me, particularly as it is a great stress reliever if
I can get myself to the WAC.
- To go to extra help even if I don't think I need it! This has helped me
out and given me the push to go (where I've benefitted - even if I didn't have
questions of my own) so many times
- Don't study in your dorm room... it's SO helpful to separate your "study"
place from your "home" place, even if it may seem more convenient to combine
the two. Plus, Hendrix has numerous cute study nooks - all my friends have their
own favorite "study spot."
- Budgeting advice is really helpful.
#4: What was the hardest part about starting college?
The fear I wouldn't make any friends, as I didn't know anyone else coming into
the freshman class. Absolutely unfounded fear - Hendrix is such a welcoming community.
As cliché as it sounds, I did great just being myself.
professor's teaching style and how they were going to ask questions on tests. I
had to realize that I was no longer in high school; I am considered an adult
and I have to take full responsibilities for my actions.
Managing money has been the hardest thing for me since coming to college.
From the parents:
#1: What advice have you given your student to deal with issues like homesickness,
roommate troubles, class troubles, general anxiety, etc.?
- Homesickness: My advice has been to keep herself challenged and immersed
in a variety of activities. Try to remember that most kids on campus are going
through the same things you are so “reach out your hand” and be friendly, caring
- Roommate troubles: First, be respectful and tolerant of your roommate and
their likes/dislikes. Second, remember both of you are adjusting to a new situation.
Third, communicate likes/dislikes from the beginning. Fourth, remember the boundaries
between being a cohabiter of the same space and being a friend - don't take
advantage. Fifth, if you can't work out a situation, go to the RA before it
escalates. I'll add that the Hendrix roommate contract that the students sign
on move-in day is a terrific idea.
- Class troubles: Take an objective look at the situation and consider how
you, the student, might be causing or exasperating the issue. Go to the professor's
office hours for general extra help even if you don't think you need to, as
you might benefit anyhow and it will certainly foster better communication and
possibly better understanding between both of you to have this more personal
interaction. Talk to an objective person, for example, your advisor, and get
(and be open to) their opinion. If you still feel that there is an issue, make
an appointment to directly address the issue with the professor. Finally, go
to the appropriate dean, if absolutely necessary, but only with a fair assessment
of what you believe the issues are on both sides.
- General anxiety: You’re probably not organizing/prioritizing enough, so
reassess and re-evaluate. You're probably not getting enough sleep, so sleep
more. You're probably not exercising enough, so exercise more. Sign up for a
volunteer opportunity, even for just a few hours, so you can get yourself away
from the situation and reconnect with the bigger picture of life. GET INVOLVED!
If you sit around and wait for things to happen they usually don’t…it takes
effort and energy to get involved but you will never regret it! These 4 years
will be some of the best times you can remember…make the most of them.
- As for general advice, always be open to new opportunities. Always to the
right thing. Life is just easier when you do the right thing. You should always
try something once (if legal and safe), as you never know what may result. And
always ---- Smile. Be kind. Be humble.
#2: What has been the hardest part about your student starting college?
I think that is hard is worrying about how they are handling the hard things
that have come their way. But Hendrix does such a great job of giving the students
resources and helping them adjust. We have so much faith and confidence in
what they are doing at Hendrix that it has been a huge relief!
#3: What other advice would you give to parents?
Don't be hurt or upset if your child is not in constant contact. Be happy for
them that they are busy and involved. Give them some space and realize that you
have done your job right. Your child is independent and able to function without
checking in with you all the time! While it might make you sad, that you are no
longer the center of their universe, it is a good thing. They are growing up and
able to function in the real world!