We know it’s bittersweet to send your student off to college and challenging trying to be supportive without being overbearing. While your Aggie needs their independence, they will also benefit from the right encouragement from you, their parents and family members. We know you want to see your student succeed at Texas A&M, and so do we! So here are four things you can say during one of those elusive phone calls or texts from your student.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Whether your student is struggling academically, socially or personally, there are a multitude of resources available at Texas A&M to help them. If your student is not doing as well as they would like in their classes, encourage them to visit the Academic Success Center (ASC). The ASC can provide your student with timely and helpful resources to bolster their academic success, including tutoring, academic coaching, supplemental instructions and study handouts. You can also encourage your student to visit with their professors during office hours to discuss their situation and ask questions.
Texas A&M also offers support for students struggling outside the classroom. The Offices of the Dean of Student Life provide a variety of workshops and resource centers to support and educate students on issues such as alcohol and drug use, relationships, wellness, sexual identity and more. If your student is facing mental health issues, encourage them to contact Student Counseling Services to make an appointment or attend a workshop.
2. Manage your time wisely
Being involved in a student organization is a great way for your student to strengthen their connection to the university and find a community for support and friendship. But with more than 1,200 organizations on campus and plenty of opportunities to socialize, it can be easy to over commit and become tired and overwhelmed. Coaches from the Academic Success Center recommend you encourage your student to establish a routine that works for them that includes plenty of time for sleep and studying along with campus involvement.
3. College is not high school
The transition to college can be difficult for many students, especially those who breezed through high school with a great GPA and were the top of their class. They were a big fish in a small pond, but now they’re a big fish in a lake with nothing but big fish. What worked for your student in high school may not get them the same grades in college. This can be a hard lesson to learn, but don’t let your student get discouraged. Let them know they can succeed in college just as they did in high school if they are willing to work harder and ask for help when needed (see #1).
4. Failing is ok (once in a while)
It happens to almost every college student at some point: failing an exam or, worse, a class. Remember #3? Adjusting to college is hard, and sometimes, as in life, your student will fail. It’s important not to put too much pressure on them and to be understanding if they do. Many students fear their parents’ disappointment or anger when their academic performance is poor, so try not to react harshly if they share this information with you. Let your student know you believe in them and that one bad test or even semester doesn’t define them. Help them work through what happened and determine how they can learn from the experience. (Then refer to #1)
College is both an exciting and daunting change for both students and parents. As parents and family members, you may struggle with knowing when to step in and when to give your student space. You know your student best, so only you can decide. College is a time for your student to learn how to be independent and care for themselves, but they will still rely on you for support and encouragement from time to time. We hope this post will help you navigate those conversations and find the right balance with your Aggie student.