Congratulations on your student’s high school graduation! We hope you had a great, celebratory time as a family. Before you know it, you and your student will be headed to DU for the first day of orientation. The summer prior to college can be very challenging emotionally, as both parents and students strain to redefine their relationship to each other. Students’ excitement about a new adventure is paired, under the surface, with sadness about leaving family and friends and with unexpressed fear of change. Parents’ pride is mixed with the painful realization that their child is leaving home and things will never be quite the same in the family system. No wonder that summer before college can be a real roller-coaster ride!
Independence is the primary theme of this stage in your student’s development. At DU our goal is to treat our students as adults; legally, they are adults. We believe in setting our standards high, knowing that our students are likely to step up to meet them. Our goal is to create a civil and diverse community, one that maximizes possibilities for growth among our students. We understand that sometimes our students are 18 years old going on 30, and sometimes they are 18 going on 12. This is a time of such rapid growth and change. (Remember that infancy year from zero to one? It’s like that, only slightly less visible to the naked eye.)
Because many students are away from parental supervision for the first time, their first year of college is a time of major stress and demanding self-regulation. The challenges include a new wave of peer pressure, time management challenges, and residential living (lots of people in a small space!).
At DU we have created a system of challenge and support. We provide as much support as humanly possible to help students be successful, understanding the huge developmental leaps they are making at this age. We make the rules as clear and as reasonable as we can to support an academic community of integrity. And, we hold students accountable for their behavior. Before you jump in to rescue, step back and think about the importance of students experiencing the consequences of their decisions – such an important part of growing to be a successful adult. (See more information in the new Family Handbook you will be receiving soon.)
A Summer To-Do List for Parents and Families
• Make sure to register for Parent/Family Orientation in September. This orientation session is separate from new student orientation and is designed to answer all your questions and to give you the opportunity to meet many of the DU faculty and staff who will be interacting closely with your student. Visit www.du.edu/studentlife/Discoveries for registration information.
• Over the summer, our students will register only for their First-Year Seminar—don’t forget that the First-Year Seminar registration deadline is July 15th! Students receive a packet of information about FSEM registration in June following their deposit. Why don’t our students register for other courses during the summer? At DU, we want students to work with a faculty mentor before registering for additional courses, so that they can make informed choices. All new students will register for their Fall Quarter courses at the end of Discoveries (new student orientation) Week. This gives students the chance to interact with lots of faculty, upper-class students and staff to answer any questions. Students living on-campus do not receive information about their housing assignment until their First-Year Seminar registration is completed.
• Before students arrive on campus, they should verify that they have all of the updates they need on their laptop computers by visiting http://www.du.edu/uts/helpdesk/newstudent.html. Once students arrive on campus, they will receive information about how to connect to DU wireless. University Technology Services will be available in JMAC and Centennial Towers residence halls to answer students’ questions.
• Talk about expectations with your student. Now is a good time. What have you decided about your student having a car on campus? How are finances going to be handled? Will the student open a checking account? What about spending money? How will you get information about your student’s grades? What are your expectations about those grades? How often will you talk by phone? What about alcohol, safety, relationships, or other issues? Talking about these things now can help set clear expectations and facilitate communication regarding tough issues once your student is at DU.
• Do your homework on DU’s resources. You can be a helpful referral source when your student needs guidance on campus. You can learn more about DU offices and resources in the Family Handbook that will be mailed to you this summer.
• Support your student in arranging to have individual needs met. Arranging necessary services for students with a learning disability, mental illness or physical condition is best done before you arrive on campus. DU welcomes students with disabilities and employs a staff with substantial experience in supporting students. Help them help you by organizing documentation and giving them ample notice of your students’ needs. College is the time for your students to begin to advocate for themselves (if they haven’t done so already), and to find their own voice to articulate their needs
• Take time to think about your evolving relationship with your student. Just as your student may feel excited, anxious and fearful about starting college, you may be experiencing similar contradictory feelings, as well. This is a period of huge adjustment for you as a parent/family member. Your mixed feelings of joy and sorrow, pride and loss are normal. There will be a void in the family, and some roles may shift—especially if younger siblings are still at home. Think intentionally about how you can support your student’s growing independence. And, it’s a good time to take care of yourself! Refocus on your own hobbies and interests; consider how you want to spend this next stage of your life. Remember that your student still needs you and loves you, even if he or she doesn’t express it openly or often.
Enjoy your time together this summer, and trust the transition process. All will be well!