As your child starts a new chapter in their life, it can be an exciting, and daunting, time for them and for you too.
We are here to help you and your child through the transition from one chapter of their life to the next. University is a time for exploration and the key message for you as a parent is to encourage your student to persevere, to be curious, to have courage when facing new challenges, to grow, to become independent, to expand their horizons and to connect with new and interesting people.
We can offer you information about common challenges faced by new students and what you can do to help your young adult son or daughter enhance their chances of success and make the most of their uni experience.
1. Teaching and Learning
The university learning and social environment is very different to that of school.
For students to succeed, they will need to develop or enhance not only their academic skills, but their personal skills as well.
2. Promote personal responsibility
At university, students have more freedom in what and when they study than they had at school. With this freedom comes increased responsibility for their own learning. University lecturers, unlike high school teachers, provide limited guidance. For example, new students will need to work out for themselves how many hours to study a week and to ask for help if they don’t understand a concept or feel they are struggling.
To thrive at university, first-year students will have to manage a range of new academic and time management skills. One of the first hurdles is learning to cope with the increased freedom around what, when and how they study, and taking on increased responsibility for monitoring and maximising their own learning.
3. Talk to staff
Encourage your student to access support from their tutors, lecturers and academic advisers by reinforcing that it is ok to ask. It is also an important life skill to learn how to ask for help from the right individuals – connecting with ‘go to’ people when sound advice is needed.
4. Promote doing what works!
Encourage your student to choose problem-solving and perspective questions such as ‘what is required here’ ‘how can I learn from this experience’ and ‘what is most important now’ so that he or she keeps pushing through with a plan for every challenge. As Thomas A. Edison said; “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
Expect that, at first, progress will be incremental: if your student finds that they are having success doing things in a certain way, encourage them to continue! Help them see small successes such as handing an assignment in on time, or completing an online quiz, or even finding their way around campus, as building blocks to further success.
5. Social life and new friends
Commencing university is an overall lifestyle change and your student will need to take in a whole new environment. This can place a great deal of pressure on them, but it is important that they embrace the new opportunities presented to them. From joining clubs and societies, to working out referencing, and even moving out and having to pay rent – all these present opportunities for growth.
However, it is also important that they do not overextend themselves and take on too much too soon. For further information see the Counselling & Psychological Services (CAPS) e books.
Being aware and informed about their experience can really help your student too. Simply by making an effort to understand what they are experiencing and process it with them, you can help ease the stress and anxiety they may feel. Sometimes, in a new environment, all your student needs to know is that someone is there to share it with them. You are an important ‘go to’ person both for an empathetic ear and a helpful perspective.