College transition for most students involves many other people – their parents, siblings, extended family members, friends, church communities. Following are tips prepared by our Wesleyan education institutions to make transitioning to college a success for everyone.
- Be fully at college – you are in a new stage of life. Trying to hold on to high school friends can make your transition to college harder.
- Don't put a bunch of pictures of high school friends in your residence hall room. They will make you homesick and communicate you are uninterested in making new friends.
- Make sure at least 50 percent of your social media contacts are new college friends so you are not constantly reminded about what is happening at home.
- Don't go home for the first six weeks. This time frame is critical for making new college friends. If you're not at college, you will miss important friendship-building opportunities.
- Get to know your professors – the top predictor of college student success is the amount of time spent with professors outside of the classroom. Visit during office hours and ask them to join you for coffee. Get to know them. This connection will be harder at public schools than at private Christian schools, but try anyway.
- Get involved – with residence hall activities, join clubs and organizations, play intramural sports.
- Sleep is important – try to get the same amount of sleep (at least seven hours a night) at the same time daily.
- Develop academic skills:
- Read your syllabi and plan ahead.
- Create routine study times even if you don't have homework due the next day. Work ahead.
- Remember the college expectation is two hours of homework for each one hour in class. A normal academic load is 16 hours which means you are expected to study 32 hours a week.
Parents – for your students:
- See number 1 above – help your student to be fully at college.
- Don't let them come home for the first six weeks.
- Don't post on social media how much you miss them. Your posts will cause guilt or homesick emotions making it difficult for them to transition successfully.
- Put your needs aside so you don't put undue pressure on your student during an already stressful time.
- Learn available student resources and then encourage your student to go and get help themselves. You asking the college for help prevents your student from building life skills. (True example: Parents have called to ask if we will wake their student every day for classes!)
- When your student does come home (after six weeks), be prepared for loads of laundry. If you help with the laundry, you will be loved even more!
- Don't be surprised if they sleep most of the time they are home.
- Don't be upset if they spend time finding their high school friends during their first visit home. Let them reconnect. They will realize life is different and they are growing in new ways. It will become more important to them on future visits to spend time with family.
Encourage your student to do the things listed above in the student section.
Remain calm during discussions about possible college major changes. The average North American changes career paths more than five times which underscores the importance of being educated and how an education equips one for a wide variety of career turns.
Pray for your student daily and pray for those helping to develop your student in college.
Parents – for yourselves:
- Plan a trip, vacation or something fun to begin right after dropping your student off at college. It is helpful for you to have something to look forward.
- 2.Read the college student guide/handbook. It may make for a long read, but there is a lot of information regarding conduct expectations, what can and can't be brought to campus, policies, etc. Reading before moving will save you and your student money by preventing unnecessary purchases now and unexpected fines later.
- Take time before the transition to talk with your student. Celebrate this upcoming achievement while acknowledging the closure of their high school experience. Talk about expectations regarding calls, texts, visits. Speak of your love for and pride in them.
- Examine the new student orientation schedule and find time to go somewhere private with your student for last-minute goodbyes. It is ok to cry, but make sure to communicate your tears are because you love and are proud of your student. If you look like an emotional wreck, then your student will worry about you making the student's college transition more difficult.
- Find parent support groups. Check with the college to see what it offers.
Siblings, extended family members, friends, church communities:
- 1.Pray for the student.
- 2.Remain interested in how the student's life away from you is going.
- 3.Celebrate the student's accomplishments and enjoy the gift of them being part of your life.
Article contributors include Administrative Assistant Kim Cockle, Houghton Student Life; Vice President Brandon Hill, IWU Life Calling and Integrative Learning; and Vice President Kirk Sabine, Kingswood Campus Life.