It is a good idea to discuss with your student how you want to communicate with each other and how often. Every day may be too much for your student who is trying to establish a new network at Georgia Tech, but for some families once a week is too long to go without communicating.
Talk to your student about how often you will communicate by phone, letter, email, social media, or text messaging. These are all great ways to stay in touch without taking up too much of your student’s time. It is important that both you and your student agree. It is also a good idea to revisit your communication plan as things change from semester to semester.
Here are some conversation starters before arrival on campus:
What are you excited about? / What are you worried about?
It’s important to share your student’s enthusiasm about a new experience. Moving to campus, meeting new people, and learning new things can be very exciting. At the same time, they can be daunting. Avoid saying “these will be the best years of your life.” This could create a lot of pressure for a student who may begin to believe that nothing could or should go wrong or they are not living up to expectations. Acknowledging that there will be great experiences and tough challenges will ultimately help them learn to solve problems. The good news is there are a lot of campus resources and staff eager to help students through the tough times.
What would you like to accomplish in your first year at Georgia Tech?
Most students likely will say “get good grades.” Encourage your student to think a bit broader and consider what they want to do outside the classroom – study abroad, provide service to others, join a student organization, continue their current hobbies, or learn a new skill. Georgia Tech promotes events and activities to help students adjust to campus life the first year. It is important for students to stay in the know and to take advantage of these opportunities. By the second year, the Institute expects students to be involved or to know how to do so. It is also important to discuss realistic expectations for academic achievement at college level. We know our first year students have a 97% retention rate and return their second year. The support and assistance is available to help them succeed. Encourage them to take advantage of all that Georgia Tech has to offer, both in and out of the classroom.
Family finances and your college budget
Make sure your student knows how to manage their expenses/checking account. Encourage them to develop a budget for spending money. Additionally, a conversation about credit card use and abuse is essential. Simply saying, “this is for emergency-purposes only” can take a completely different meaning for students.
College is a time of transition for students and families. Your student may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with the campus, new and unfamiliar services, different policies and procedures, a new roommate(s), and few familiar faces. Changes for family members who are staying at home can also cause concern for you and the rest of the family. Phone calls, emails, text messages, or letters will help everyone in this time of transition.
With all the new challenges students are facing and without a support system in place, this might be a time your student is actually conscious of staying in touch. Convey interest in what your student is experiencing and show that you place value on this experience. In the event of personal struggles with roommates, professors, etc., encourage your student to work out situations to the best of their ability. Your instinct may be to "fix" the problem. Instead, recommend that your student use campus resources such as their Resident Advisor (RA), Counseling Center, or tutorial services that are available with the Center for Academic Success. This way, you are fostering independence while continuing to communicate your support and concern.
- Students will want to explore campus, meet new people and exercise their independence. Give them the freedom to do so.
- Ask questions about your student’s classes, roommate(s), friends, and new life.
- Expect changes in their behavior, look, and schedule. As they begin to flex their freedom, they might not remember to call home as often.
- Don’t worry (too much) about depressing phone calls and letters. With change often comes homesickness and the longing for something familiar. Try to remind your student to get involved and that they will soon fit in. Everything takes time.
- If your student is living on campus, encourage them to get to know their Resident Advisor (RA). If your student is living off campus and commuting, encourage them to get involved in a student organization, find a campus job, or get involved in intramural activities.
- Fraternities and Sororities are another great way to get involved and help others. Each chapter on campus sponsors their own philanthropy and holds events throughout the year. Greek students have higher rates of community service on average than their non-Greek counterparts.
Once your student has settled in, they will have made a few friends, discovered their favorite classes, and travel around campus and the community at night and on weekends. During your regular phone calls with your student, somewhere in between the discussions of course work, dating, and money, you should also carve some time out to discuss their general health. This is more than just how they are feeling or they are sick. A healthy lifestyle is one that encompasses mental and physical health too. This can include alcohol use, getting enough sleep, exercise, nutrition, and overall general wellness. At Georgia Tech, there are ample ways to sustain a healthy lifestyle or start one if your student needs an extra boost. From healthy dining choices to on-campus counseling services, healthy lifestyles are a priority at Georgia tech and are needed to be successful.
- Encourage your student to use the library as a resource and a quiet study space. Also, encourage your student to talk to their professors and advisors about any concerns or questions before it is too late in the semester – during faculty and staff office hours.
- Reassure your student that feeling overwhelmed is normal for students learning to manage new academic demands and personal responsibilities.
- Anticipate that your student may call home to let off some steam, share your worries or sort through situations out loud. Use these moments as opportunities to let them do their own problem-solving by listening, asking questions, and affirming your belief in their decision-making.
- If your student seems to be depressed or anxious, encourage them to talk to a counselor at the Counseling Center.
- Encourage your student to achieve a sense of balance including a healthy diet, adequate sleep, exercise, and relaxation.
- Frequently share with your student that you trust them to make good choices.
- Encourage your student to check out numerous programs and services at the Campus Recreation Center (CRC), to keep them active, relieve stress, and meet other students.
- Establish or reestablish expectations for budgeting and finances.
Students who are involved in at least one student organization are more likely to feel connected to their peers, get higher grades, have fewer problems with alcohol and other drugs, and are better prepared for life after graduation. A tremendous amount of learning, personal growth and skill development takes place outside of the classroom. With so many excellent opportunities to get involved, students are sure to find a club or organization that not only interests them, but also provides an opportunity to meet new people, pursue new interests, and give them a sense of belonging.
- Georgia Tech has over 500 registered student organizations. Ask your student if they’ve found anything they like thus far and if not, encourage them to check out the Center for Student Engagement.
- Leadership continues to be one of the most pressing issues faced by global organizations today. Organizations are looking for students who have the ability to collaborate across boundaries, conceptualize new solutions and motivate diverse teams. Second-year students and above should consider applying to Leading Edge (One-on-One Leadership Coaching), sponsored by Leadership Education and Development, to actively explore and improve their individual and team leadership skills through practice and critical reflection, challenge themselves to be a better leader, and develop their leadership vision.
- Involvement in a pre-professional or major-related organization can help students connect with like-minded peers in a particular academic area and it can open up opportunities after graduation.
- Suggest the exploration of opportunities for involvement in the residential community. Your student can ask their Resident Advisor (RA) about involvement and leadership opportunities in their residence hall.
- Your student should subscribe to The Weekly Digest, an online listing of upcoming events on campus each week.
- Tell your student to cheer on their fellow Yellow Jackets at athletic events throughout the year. For a schedule events go to www.ramblinwreck.com
- Trust them to make the right decisions. You have raised them with a great set of values, and they will likely keep those values throughout their college career.
- Remind your student to apply for OIE Scholarships to study abroad in spring or summer.
Where did the time go? As midterm tests and projects are ending, the focus shifts to final projects and tests that are just around the corner. As students will admit, this is the time when any earlier procrastination comes back to haunt them—when suddenly papers, projects, and exams are due practically on the same day. There’s a lot of pressure on your student now, stemming from both personal expectations and expectations from you as a parent. And of course, there are other factors competing for your student’s attention such as campus life events and end of the semester programs.
- The Thanksgiving holiday provides a nice break to help your student refocus their energies for the remainder of the semester. Still, your student should not put studying and coursework completely aside, as finals are quickly approaching.
- While your student is home during the Thanksgiving break, be sure to celebrate the semester’s victories and work together to understand challenges.
- If your student is staying on campus for the Thanksgiving Break, be sure to check ParentNews in November and Parent & Family Programs Facebook page for special programming for students not going home. You can also email email@example.com for some suggestions for your student.
- Start encouraging your student to think about pursuing a part-time job or internship over winter break.
- If your student expresses concern about tackling coursework and upcoming finals, remind them about the office of Student Success, which conducts workshops on preparing for exams and offers other academic/tutoring support services on campus.
- Reiterate the importance of adequate sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and relaxation. Encourage your student to find time for a favorite sport or hobby they can pursue to keep up morale and maintain balance.
As the holidays approach at the end of November and early December, your student is beginning to feel the true pressure of campus life. As the fall semester draws to a close, students feel stressed by academic deadlines, approaching exams, and plans for the holidays. Take the time to make sure your student is prepared for the upcoming finals and ensure proper resources are available.
When final exams are finished, many students head home for the winter break. They may have concerns about family issues and how they will adjust to routines back at home. It is important to discuss expectations with your student before they return home for winter break. Prepare yourself and other family members that the student who returns may not be the student you sent off to college. It may help to renegotiate curfew hours and family responsibilities. It is an important time of adjustment for everyone as your family grows and changes. Also note that some students choose to remain in Atlanta over winter break to work and/or save money. Talk with your student about these decisions as well.
Enjoy spending quality time with your student if they do come home for the break! Happy Holidays!
- Your student’s emotions may be on a bit of a roller coaster during this period. For many students, this is the time when they begin to really feel connected to campus, but it is also when the reality of their academic progress begins to affect them.
- Accept that your student’s grades may suffer or decline if they are new to Georgia Tech. Remind them that college is supposed to be more difficult, but they will adjust in time. Be sure to let them know that you are proud of them, you recognize their hard work and that you love them.
- Understand students may need some additional space and time as they buckle down for exams OR students may become homesick and reach out more often in their stress.
- Send a care package to your student with enough treats for them to share with roommates and friends.
- Offer support by calling, texting, sending emails, or visiting the campus if you can-check with your student first to make sure they have time to visit with you during this stressful time.
- It’s easy to forget about financial obligations during this time, but make sure your student’s loan payments and other fees have been paid for the upcoming semester. Remember, the Office of Bursar sends online statements to students, not parents.
- Encourage your student to participate in morale boosting activities and traditions that take place during finals week such as Midnight Breakfast, a free breakfast offered late at night during finals week in the Exhibition Hall
Now that your student has completed the fall semester, changing majors may be on their mind. This often creates worry and concern for both you and your student. Choosing a major is a difficult process. This can be a good opportunity for your student to explore interests and determine what they really want to study. Your student may also benefit from an internship or other employment to help determine career options. It is important to remember however, that students are more than their majors. The best way to prepare for a career is to get a sound education, develop leadership skills and gain career-related experience through internships, community service, part-time jobs, and campus involvement.
- If your student did not meet their academic goals in the fall, suggest a visit to Academic Success Programs, which offers a variety of resources to address your student’s individual academic performance needs.
- If your student is already thinking about how to make the most of the upcoming summer, bring up Georgia Tech’s outstanding summer undergraduate research opportunities. Information on these research projects is typically available starting this month. Your student can learn more information by visiting the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program website at undergradresearch.gatech.edu.
- Encourage your student to speak with their academic advisor if they have concerns about their major.
- Second year students should begin to select a major, refine career options, and begin defining their purpose. Encourage your student to participate in many employment and graduate school fairs, workshops, and services sponsored by Career Center.
- Second and third year students should seek an internship or co-op in their career field. The Career Center can assist your student in this process.
- Students should have a current resume listing their part-time employment, internship, and/or co-op experience. Your student should also attend career fairs and graduate school fairs to gain exposure to all of the opportunities at Georgia Tech.
- Be sure you and/or your returning student submit the appropriate financial aid applications for the upcoming academic year no later than a week prior to the January 31 priority deadline. Contact Financial Aid with any questions.
Diversity at Georgia Tech abounds through a myriad of programs and our multicultural student body, faculty, and staff. Recognizing the importance of cultural backgrounds, Georgia Tech provides students with many opportunities to learn about those different than themselves. Encourage your student to make the most of their college experience by studying or interning abroad, taking a class, attending a program, performance, lecture, or getting involved in a club or organization.
- Talk with your student about international opportunities. Whether it is for a week, a semester, or a year, studying abroad allows your student to learn another language, take major and elective coursework, discover new places, make meaningful connections around the world.
- Talk with your student about the different backgrounds of people they’ve met on campus. Explore the relationships they are making and promote an open dialogue with students different from themselves.
- Encourage them to visit or attend events organized by the Student Diversity Programs, Women’s Resource Center, and LGBTQIA Resource Center. These programs provide a space for students to drop-in, relax, attend educational programs, and meet new friends.
- Encourage involvement through service learning. Alternative Service Breaks are meaningful ways for students to learn more about others, provide service to people in need, and explore different parts of the country and world. Students are encouraged to be globally conscious leaders through direct service, education, diversity, reflection, investigation of social justice issues, and reorientation.
- Remind your student to apply for OIE Scholarships to study abroad in the next academic year.
- Spring has sprung and, with it, the possibility of severe weather. Make sure your student has signed up for Georgia Tech’s Emergency Notification System (GTENS) to receive alerts via cellphone and email.
- Encourage your student to meet with their academic advisor to discuss early registration for summer and fall classes.
- If your student needs help with issues such as time management, relationships, or feelings of distress or depression, they can schedule an appointment with the Counseling Center or take advantage of one of its workshops. Also, visiting the Campus Recreation Center for fun and fitness can help relieve stress.
- Encourage your student to seek out leadership development through a Minor in Leadership Studies or Learning Edge (One-on-One Leadership Coaching), sponsored by Leadership Education and Development. The minor adds breadth to your student’s technical proficiency, preparing them to be a global citizen and world-class professional with the communication, ethical and problem-solving tools to help invent future rather than simply waiting for it to happen. Coaching enables your student to work with a leadership development coach to actively explore and improve their leadership skills through practice and critical reflection, challenge themselves to be a better leader, and develop their leadership vision.
- Send care packages complete with snacks, multi-vitamins, and encouraging words before or during mid-terms to give your student a little boost.
- Send a text or email to say hello and let your student know you care, and you are there if they need you.
- March is Diversity and Inclusivity Month at Georgia Tech. Encourage your student to attend special programming offered throughout the month. Visit the Student Diversity Programs page to learn more.
- March is Women’s Awareness Month at Georgia Tech, so encourage your student to get involved with the many activities sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center.
- If your student is considering going on to graduate school, they should start thinking now about applying. A good rule of thumb is to begin the application process at least one full year in advance of anticipated graduate school enrollment.
The end of the semester (or for some, graduation) is right around the corner. The pressure continues to escalate as the term winds down. Putting the finishing touches on that final assignment, coordinating a group project, tracking down notes from a missed class—students’ minds are racing with all the work that still needs to be done. On top of this, many clubs and organizations are also wrapping up for the year. Your student’s schedule could quickly become overrun with banquets, picnics, and formals. Other campus wide events, such as the Pi Mile Road Race and Sting Break, are fun experiences your student won’t want to miss. Since sleep often suffers in times of stress, make sure your student is practicing healthy habits during the remaining hustle and bustle of the semester.
Understand that your student’s passage into an independent and successful adult will be gradual and can be best aided by your respectful and simultaneous challenge and support.
- If your student has always enjoyed giving back and helping others suggest they check into volunteering with the Center for Student Engagement. They can learn about local and global issues firsthand, put solutions into practice, make friends with similar interests, get on-the-job training, and give back to Atlanta and world communities.
- Intramural sports allow your student and their friends to form teams and play competitive sports on a casual level. Your student can learn more at the Campus Recreation Center with the intramural staff.
- Encourage your student to use the library as a resource and as a quiet study space. Also, recommend that they talk to their professors about any concerns or questions before it is too late in the semester.
- Advice them to look into job shadowing, volunteering, working or interning in the career field of choice for the summer. It is not too early for your student to look into summer educational opportunities.
- Summer is a great opportunity for your student to get ahead or take a class that may be a little more challenging. Encourage them to look into summer school classes at Georgia Tech or at a college campus near home.
- Emphasize the wisdom of approaching finals with the attitude of doing the very best they can, and not worrying tediously about what has or has not happened so far in the semester.
While finals are wrapping up, students are thinking of packing up their room, returning home, and leaving friends and relationships. Or perhaps your student is planning to stay in Atlanta to work or study abroad and will miss family members. Your student may be concerned that relationships may not survive the summer break. Some students are concerned about not being able to maintain their independence while at home. Encourage your student through finals and the transition to summer.
Summer at home with a returned college student can mean major adjustments for you, your student, and the rest of the family. You may notice changes in your student including appearance and behaviors. Now is a good time to discuss expectations regarding curfew, social activities, responsibilities, family trips, working, etc. Clarity, consistency, and compromise can go a long way in finding common ground. Remember adjustments take time and before you know it your student will be heading back to Georgia Tech for another school year.
May is also a time for celebration and next steps for those that are graduating and headed to that first job, graduate school, or another exciting adventure!
- Keep the lines of communication open and supportive. One of the best strategies students have against stress and fatigue is talking with someone they trust.
- Prepare yourself and other family members that the student who returns may not be the student you sent off to college. It may help to renegotiate curfew hours and family responsibilities for the summer. It is an important time of adjustment for everyone as your family grows and changes.
- Once your student returns home for the summer review the events of the past year with your student. Identify problem areas and encourage your student to consider possible solutions.
- Before students head home for the summer remind them to wrap up things on campus before they leave in May. Things to think about: forwarding their mail to their summer address, paying fines for overdue books and parking tickets, and looking into storage possibilities for all of their belongings for the summer if they can’t bring everything home.
- Summer is often a time for student to work and make money to take back to school.
Just because spring semester is over, doesn’t mean your student won’t be experiencing some major transitions and adventures in the next few months. There are many paths students can take over the summer, and each involves its own challenges. For some students, especially first year students, life back at home after a year away may take some getting used to. Your student knows that, although not a guest at your house, they are no longer a full-time resident either.
Some things around the house may have changed while your student was away, and that independent streak you’ve been nurturing may make your student seem a little distant; however, as long as you keep the lines of communication open and are clear about your expectations for the summer, your student should slowly begin to readjust to home life.
If your student opts to enroll in summer classes either at Georgia Tech or abroad, they will be thrown back into the grind of coursework and exams. If your student stays at school, there are going to be social activities that could compete with study time. Because the weather’s inviting and the campus atmosphere is more laid back, your student may feel like they don’t have to try as hard to complete the work. The fact is, though, that summer classes are just as rigorous—if not more so—as fall and spring classes. Summer classes often run at a quicker pace, and students have less time to complete assignments. Make sure you refresh your student’s memory about time management so that they can enjoy summer fun but complete assignments on time.
- Help your student feel “at home” again by jointly planning family activities. This will also continue to encourage their responsible nature.
- It may take some time for your student to adjust if they have decided to come home for the summer. Work with your student with regard to setting up a schedule and introducing any potential curfews.
- Your student’s relationship with hometown family and friends may have changed so work with your student on coming to terms with, or redefining, those personal relationships.
- Make time to visit your student if they are going to be away for the summer. Your student will appreciate the extra effort you’ve taken to spend time together.
- Spend quality time with your student discussing what worked and what didn’t last semester, and how to use the experience to make the next semester even better.
- Remind your student that the Division of Student Life/VP and Dean of Students Office is a great resource.
- Review your student’s financial needs for the upcoming year.
- Talk to your student about the importance of credit and money management. There are several resources of financial assistance available: grants, scholarships, and loans. Encourage your student to apply for as many as possible. Even small scholarships will help.