In their search for greater self-knowledge and clarity about their identity, students must try out new ideas, theories, and experiences to see if they fit with what they already know about themselves. Don’t be surprised if they come home with ideas that are different than those taught at home, with questions on issues that once were taken for granted, or even with a new earring or haircut. Take it in stride. What is important is to keep communication lines open.
While students often start with an idea of what they want to do, what they believe in, and what they like to do, it is always possible that down the road, they will question these certainties. It is not uncommon for students to change their choice of major more than once. Be sure to encourage them to seek career counseling when they struggle with indecision.
All students will make mistakes during their college experience—it is an inevitable part of maturing. Making a mistake can be an important experience and useful to future situations, if one can learn from it. Remind your son or daughter that we all make mistakes and it is necessary to develop skills to handle them and move on. For example, if your student fails a class…it is not the end of the world! CSU has a “replacement” model for repeated classes. The repeated higher grade will replace the effect of the lower grade on GPA.
College is stressful, and the demands on students will at times exceed their resources to cope. Reactions may range from losing sight of priorities and becoming over-involved in social activities to exaggerating responsibilities and withdrawing from social life. Most students achieve a medium between these extremes. However, if your student shows signs of being too involved or too withdrawn, we suggest that you encourage your student to talk with a professional counselor on campus to discuss any concerns.
Many students experience homesickness during their initial adjustment to a new environment—and maybe, periodically, throughout their college years, as pressures mount. Students are more prone to homesickness (a) if they have no experience with living and working away from home, (b) if they are reluctant to initiate social events, (c) if they have hobbies that don’t involve other people—like reading or computer games, and/or (d) if your family is experiencing distress from divorce, illness, financial issues, or other significant stressors.
Homesickness is uncomfortable for both students and parents, and you will worry in a proportion equal to your student’s apparent happiness. However, homesickness is usually transient and will pass. Each bout with homesickness builds the “antibodies” of coping skills to help the next episode be less intense.
CSU Residence Life staff are trained to keep an eye out for signs of homesickness among the resident students. Be encouraged that the staff has a special heart for the emotional struggles that are common place to students entering residential college life. Please know that you are welcome to contact your son or daughter’s Residence Life Coordinator to share your concerns.
On their own for the first time, some students have problems managing money. Sit down with your student to discuss planning a budget. Decide on a plan for dealing with the large issues of paying for tuition and room/board, as well as the smaller ones such as spending money. Your student may be bombarded with offers for credit cards and many students accumulate debt they can’t pay. Don’t assume that money issues will work themselves out. Take charge to initiate this important conversation.