First Year Parent Engagement

Supporting Your College Student

 
**Tip for Parents -- Remember your role as a parent should transition into the role of a coach.

As your student takes on the many new responsibilities of a college student, your role will change, but your student still needs you. A college student will need more support as he/she grows, develops, and matures into an independent young man and/or woman.  They will in some instances need counsel and advice from you, but do not be surprise if they do not ask.  You may need to be proactive in initiating conversations about how they are doing. Your help is needed in co-designing a proactive college success plan. However, your student has to take leadership in the follow through and delivery of the actions necessary for the successful completion of the plan.

 
 **Tip for Parents -- Please visit the college campus and/or contact the appropriate offices to ensure that all academic, financial, and health immunization matters are resolved before August 15.

There is a great deal of anxiety during the senior year in high school that extends to the summer after graduation and before college. You may find that you start seeing less of your student late in the senior year and immediately after high school graduation. First, there is the pressure of receiving an acceptance letter from their college of choice; then there is a great deal of nervous energy about joining a new community during the first college year; then there is a great deal of stress about the affordability of  a college education. Your student will need your support and cooperation to complete the course registration, financial aid, bill clearance, and health services immunization records process. Make sure to discuss money management with your student along with academic goals for the first year.

 
**Tip for Parents -- The Bloomfield College academic calendar can be accessed by clicking here  

Most first-year college students desire the security of knowing that someone from home is still interested in them. Parental curiosity can be alienating or supportive depending on the attitudes of the parents and students involved. Honest inquiries and other “between friends” communication and discussion will do much to further the parent-student relationship. Parents should become familiar with the College Academic Calendar, and major timelines for financial aid. The academic calendar, all academic procedures, and the College’s Standards of Student Conduct are available in the College Catalog on the website.  

 
Most college students complete their college degree in five or six years. We encourage parents to promote bachelor degree completion in four years. The sooner a student completes their undergraduate education, the greater the likelihood of lowering the overall cost of education, and greater the opportunity to start career or graduate school earlier. The coursework will become more difficult during the third and fourth year of college. However, your student will be well adjusted by that time and more skilled at managing an academic workload. They may be more likely to have a part time job or internship on/off campus during the third and fourth year, so some revisiting to basic time management strategies will be warranted occasionally. We will remain in your corner to help during the latter years of your student’s education. 
 
**Tip for Parents -- Make sure to ask your student about their signed Roommate Agreement Form, how he/she is coping with their roommates, and the friends of their roommate during the first six weeks of the semester.

Your student has entered a very special living and learning community with a great deal of personal support. Bloomfield College is the only college in New Jersey that provides Life Coaches ( fulltime professionals assigned to your student who lives in the residence halls) to work directly with your student’s adjustment to the residential community and campus life. We also provide the TRUE (Total Residential Undergraduate Education) Program that discusses the skills needed to be successful in college.  However, resident students can experience some difficulty during the first college year learning how to be independent while living with a non-family member for the first time. Some may even become homesick during the first college semester. New students will require a great deal of encouragement and support from parents to assure that they will become acclimated to their new environment. They will require motivation to get involved in their new community and take responsibility for their day-to-day experiences. Another important factor is for parents to get better acquainted with their student’s roommate.. If possible, a visit to your home for your student to introduce his/her roommate can assist in creating a positive and healthy roommate connection and relationship.

 
College is also a time for students to discover who they are. Finding oneself and one’s path in life is a difficult enough process without feeling that the people whose opinions you respect most are second-guessing your own. Allow your students the opportunity to avoid some mistakes as well as the opportunity to learn from them.
 
It is very important that your new college student is aware that they have not been abandoned by family members. They appreciate parents staying appropriately connected. Communicate  with them in ways they welcome and appreciate (cell phone; text message; Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; e-mail; Instant Messaging, etc.) . Surprisingly, college students still appreciate a letter from their parents occasionally, especially those that arrive with a care package with things from home that are missed. It is very likely that your student will not respond to all of your contacts, but they will appreciate the preserved connection with you.
 
**Tip for Parents – the College must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and is not free to release information without your student’s permission.

One of the most important conversations you will have with your new college student is about how they are doing academically. Although the first college year is replete with complexities inherent to adjustment to a new environment, academic success is ultimately the critical path to degree completion/graduation.  Academic success comes in many forms. For most students, it starts with understanding what it means to be a responsible student engaged in the learning process. It requires students to become familiar with the sequence of courses within their major and to begin mapping out a four-year plan to complete their degree. It is about managing time and course load effectively as well as creating and implementing effective study habits. It is about establishing partnerships with faculty members and instructors to understand and meet classroom expectations. It is about becoming familiar with the services and resources available to support students academically. The College has a very comprehensive tutorial program which offers tutorial assistance in all disciplines. Please make sure to encourage your student to register for tutoring before they experience difficulty in a course. We recommend seeking help during the first three weeks of each semester.  We urge parents to utilize the academic calendar as a resource to know when to ask questions about midterm grades, exam periods, and other critical dates. Remember, we are just a phone call away if you have specific questions about your student’s academic adjustment.

 
It is important to keep your student informed about changes at home. College students want their parents to accept all the changes they are making but want everything at home to remain the same.  Parents should do their best to avoid converting their student’s room to a gym, office, or storage space. Your student needs to find comfort in the fact that they are as much a part of home as they are a part of their new college community.  Make sure that their first return home during a break from college involves meaningful time with family and close friends. Your student has been making decisions on how she/he will spend time for many months. You, however, may have strong feelings of your own when your student comes in late at night, sleeps late in the morning or arrives late for dinner. Most students respond well if parents treat them with respect. For example, a parent might say, “I know you’re used to being out until all hours of the night at school, but I can’t sleep when I wake up at 2am in the morning and you’re not here. Let’s talk about how we’re going to handle this so that we both feel good about it.” It takes flexibility and communication to find this common ground.
 
**Tip for Parents-- Provide your student with the facts on issues related to risky behaviors and empower them to distinguish between good and bad decisions when it comes to their behavior, health, and safety.

As a parent of a college student, you have lost some of the privilege of parental control that you have had for the past 12 years of their education.  However, you do still have a tremendous influence on your new college student’s behavior and actions. They will have to take responsibility for time management related to study, class attendance, on/off campus employment and engagement in social interactions on campus.   Your student now has control about when and where to go at night; whether or not he/she will consume alcohol; or engage in other unhealthy habits.  While you may have lost the luxury to enforce desired behaviors on the part of your student, you can continue to reinforce the values that will promote more responsible behaviors while at college, especially if yourstudent resides on campus.  Studies show that parents influence their child’s behavior regarding drugs, alcohol, and risky relationship/sexual behavior even after their child leaves for college. Create an atmosphere of open communication, and your student will not only appreciate that you respect him or her as an adult, but he or she will also be more likely to turn to you for guidance. Your new College Community is your new partner to assist students in making sound healthy decisions during the first college year.