Top Ten Things Parents and Families Can Do Skip Navigation

Parents and Families: Supporting College Success

A helpful guide*

1. Encourage your student

Encourage your student to engage in the behaviors and develop the attitudes that facilitate success: attend class, communicate, view occasional disappointments as normal, etc.

2. Let them find and follow their passion.

 We encourage your child to explore their academic interests and passions, and we hope you will do the same – even if those interests and passions turn out to be something different than what you expected.  If you want the best for your child with respect to their academic and career success as well as for their personal happiness and fulfillment please find out what intellectual topics they really love, listen carefully to what they tell you, and support them in pursuing those passions.

3. Normalize expectations.

Let your child know that there are ups & downs/great times and bad times … if it’s not ALL wonderful, that’s normal and that’s ok and they can develop resilience in the harder times. College is likely to be harder than high school, and grades might be worse. It can take a semester for a year to feel like one belongs.

4. Don’t expect perfection.

 It doesn’t take a 4.0 GPA to succeed in life.  Help your student see challenges, problems, mistakes as normal, and temporary (“This too shall pass.”)  Tell your students you’d rather have them get a lower grade than to cheat or plagiarize.

5. Don’t implicitly or explicitly approve of unhealthy or illegal behavior.

College students who think their parents approve of underage drinking (and about 30% think this) engage in more risky drinking than other college students.

6. Don’t be over-involved.

Try really hard not to do things for them; don’t solve their problems or make decisions for them. Remember our goal is for your student to grow in his/her ability to deal with a complex world and with a variety of personal challenges. Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, it is important to encourage your student to take the initiative in gathering information that they need, in seeking out help, in problem-solving.

7. Instead of doing the problem-solving...

Instead of doing the problem-solving, show interest and support; provide guidance and encouragement.

8. Listen.

Ask them questions, listen well, and refrain from judging.

9. Share your values, advice, and wisdom.

Don’t assume your child knows your expectations & values. Talk about valuing honesty – even if it means a lower grade vs. a good grade achieved through deception. Talk about your values re: unhealthy or illegal behavior. If you don’t approve of a behavior, let them know.

10. Model the behaviors you want to see in your child.

In your own life, for example: accept that adversity happens; be patient with and forgiving of yourself/others when it does; notice the good things in life and express gratitude for them; model healthy behavior and healthy ways of coping with stress; take care of yourself!

(*Adapted from Wake Forest--"Supporting your student's success")