Your son/daughter is currently at a wonderful crossroad in life, embarking on an exhilarating voyage that will encompass a vast array of opportunities and experiences. While this is very exciting for most students, it also typically involves some level of anxiety. Whether CUI is close to home or far away, your son/daughter is probably concerned about adapting to university life. Perhaps he/she is uneasy about leaving a comfortable circle of friends and meeting new people. If your student will be commuting to the university, he/she may be worried about how to make friends outside the classroom, where to eat lunch or where to park. Maybe this is the first time your son/daughter will be living away from home for an extended period. Perhaps your student is transferring to CUI from another college or university and is apprehensive about how CUI will compare with his/her former school. Your son/daughter may also be anxious about finding an academic major where he/she will be happy and successful.
Whatever the particular circumstances may be, each student is at a unique point along a developmental continuum. Everyone does not mature simultaneously. Some students need additional time to adjust to university life, while others have little difficulty adapting. Students who experience problems typically worry that no one else feels the same as they do. These individuals are usually pleasantly surprised to discover that, although others may not show it outwardly, many students also share similar doubts and concerns.
There is no formula to determine precisely how each incoming student will react to the challenges he/she will encounter in college. New students are generally impatient because they don't like feeling inexperienced or uncomfortable. In addition, while your son/daughter may talk about all of the advantages of independence, he/she may actually be wary of the increased personal freedom that is inherent in college life. In the beginning, the new environment, with different procedures and people, can create a sense of being on an emotional roller coaster. As a result, new students sometimes amplify problems that they can easily resolve.
Some students verbalize their changing emotions and insecurities to their parents or significant family members, while others do not. As a family member, it is extremely important to maintain open lines of communication with your son/daughter and for him/her to understand that you will be supportive, regardless of the situation. If your student will be away from home, let him/her know that it is okay to call you at any time. If your son/daughter will be a commuter, encourage your student to share his/her feelings and experiences with you. Whether your son/daughter will be an on-campus resident or a commuter, don't be surprised if he/she doesn't give you many details. From time to time, most students simply feel a need to touch base with family members and you may sometimes find yourself in a position of having to "read between the lines".
Parents also have mixed emotions as students enter the university. It isn't easy to let go of a young adult who has been (and will continue to be, but in a somewhat different fashion) a very special part of your life for the past 17-plus years. This is often a time of reflection as well. It probably seems as if it was just yesterday that your son/daughter graduated from kindergarten to first grade. Back then, life was much simpler; a hug, a kiss or a bandage usually made everything okay. It is undoubtedly difficult to believe that this individual is now poised to enter adulthood. Concordia's advice to you is to be there for your student, but to also let go. Offer guidance, but let your son/daughter make his/her own decisions. They may not always be the same options you would choose and your student may make some mistakes along the way, but decision-making is vital to the intricate process of growth and development.
Another skill that is also fundamental to students' growth and development is problem solving. It is often very tempting for family members to step in and problem solve for their students. While it may be difficult in the beginning, try to let them solve problems on their own. In most cases, you will be helping your son/daughter much more if you encourage him/her to seek out professionals on campus who are trained to work with students. Learning to use resources is a significant aspect and an essential outcome of higher education. The best thing you can do, as a parent, is to offer support, answer questions, point your son/daughter in the right direction to find the resources that he/she needs and emphasize the importance of developing self-reliance.