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COVID-19 Update: University offices are open but being staffed remotely. Classes will be conducted remotely for all summer sessions.

Family Guide

Communicating with Your Student

Keep the lines of communication open. Recognizing how difficult it may be at times to discuss transitional issues, we have prepared a list of polite suggestions to help guide your discussions.


Know how the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) changes the access you have to information related to your student’s academic and social records at college.

Talk about how you will stay informed. Regardless of if you will be communicating by e-mail or phone, setting expectations early will help both the student and the parent during the transitional process.

Staying connected to your student entails knowing what is going on in his or her surrounding environment. Visit the University’s Web site to know what is happening on campus. Know the campus culture and processes.

Listen closely to things your student is sharing about the trials and tribulations being faced. Sometimes, students just need an ear to listen, a place to “vent.” Don’t solve problems, but strategize with your student about the best way to approach situations. It sometimes helps to ask “What do you want me to do?” to determine the difference between venting and a true crisis. Know that it is best to get involved only after all student-initiated avenues have been exhausted.

Academics: Ask …

About his or her advisor. Encourage meeting with the advisor to talk about classes, choosing a major, experiential education opportunities, and career options.

About classes, not grades. Talk about what topics are being covered. Is he or she facing any difficulties in the class? Students should always speak first with their professor when facing difficulty in class; all faculty members are available by phone and e-mail, and host office hours.

About majors and possible career paths. If he or she is uncertain, the First-Year Advising Office and Center for Student Success work closely with students to help them discover which field is best for them through interest surveys and workshops.

Personal: Ask …

About his or her relationships with roommates and other friends. Talk about respecting each other’s space and how to communicate if situations arise. Ask about the other friends he or she has made at school.

About involvement in co-curricular activities: clubs, organizations, community service, and intramurals. Ask if he or she has been participating in University-sponsored events on campus.

About drugs and alcohol.

About sex and relationships

About work, if applicable. The challenges related to managing school and work responsibilities can be very stressful for college students.


Applaud often! Continue celebrating the small and large achievements in your college student’s life.

It’s more than just about grades—studying hard for a tough exam, finishing a research paper, or working with a peer tutor to better understand coursework deserve recognition.

Celebrate involvement in campus activities or participation in community service events. Your encouragement will go a very long way and will help your student want to establish roots in college.