This Conversation Can Prep Your College Student for an Amazing Freshman Year

This Conversation Can Prep Your College Student for an Amazing Freshman Year

Textbooks? Check. Extra long twin size sheets? Check. Your students are ready for their first year of college...right? Maybe. College is an incredible experience, and no student will ever be fully prepared for how the classes they take and the friends they make will shape their minds and futures forever. With some well-worded advice, however, parents can set them up to successfully navigate their freshman year. If you find yourself needing suggestions for a conversation with your new college students, try these talking points on for size. 

1.  Give them great—okay, realistic—expectations.


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"My roommate and I are going to be best friends." "I'm never going to switch my major." "My dorm room will look like every fabulous dorm room ever on TV." These are great expectations new college students have, and they come true...sometimes. However, college is full of more possibilities than any student can dream of. Sit down with your students before Move-In Day, and let them know that yes, the future will be great. It might just turn out much differently than they imagine.

2.  Then segue to this: It’s okay to be uncomfortable.


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When students discover their expectations don't meet reality, or find themselves surrounded by people with experiences and values different from their own, or realize they've gone from being big fish in their hometown ponds to tadpoles in a college ocean...Well, it can be uncomfortable. Let your new college students know ahead of time that those feelings are okay. Adversity and the unfamiliar are challenges to be independent, to creatively solve problems, and to actively shape themselves into the men and women they want to be. Those challenges start on Move-In Day. You can get them ready to meet it now.

3.  Mention that they should get their priorities straight.


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"Do I need to join this club, or do I need the time to study?" "Will the apocalypse happen if my roommate makes the toilet paper unroll from the bottom instead of the top?"  For your college students, these questions and more might have non-negotiable answers, while others might make them say, "I can budge on that." Prioritizing everything from academics to roommates makes it easier to navigate freshman year. It's an especially great exercise if your students' colleges have them complete a contract with their roommate when they move in. Figuring out what's important in a living situation beforehand helps them articulate their needs, and makes them capable of compromise.

4.  Remind them that you care (package).


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Your new students already know you're going to wrap them up in a way-too-long hug before you leave them on campus. Let them know before they leave, however, that you'll be sending them reminders of how much you care throughout the year. Care packages can include literally anything (although food is a time-tested winner), but once your college students open the box, it doesn't matter what's inside. It only matters that you showed them you care about them, support them, and are rooting for them from afar.

5.  And finish with this: "You have all the power you need to make the life you imagine."


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Your new students will be surrounded by a college community that only wants them to succeed. However, once they're moved in and you go back home, they will, in a very real sense, be on their own. Keep it that way. Let them know that when they call about conflicts they face, you'll be supportive, but won't volunteer to solve their problems, or make tough choices for them. But also let them know you'll be congratulating them when amazing things happen, and encouraging them to pursue their passions when opportunities unfold. Empower them with independence, and help them understand they have it within themselves to shape their lives in college—and after.

One of the things students love best about Fairfield University is our sense of community. We believe that community includes our parents. We want to make sure our new Stag moms and dads are ready for their freshman students’ first year away. To see how we help parents prepare for Move-In Day (and beyond), check out our Fairfield University Parent Guide now.

Last Modified: 08-14-2018 11:15 AM

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