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Keeping Communication Open

Below you will find two topics that may be helpful.

1) Things to discuss prior to leaving for college
2) How to keep communication open between your student and your family

Things to talk about prior to the Fall Semester

Opportunities for Engagement. What do they involve, represent, mean to you?

Skills needed for success. How can you manage your time and adapt to class schedules?
On Campus Resources:

Class preparation. Courses in college are different from high school – work outside the classroom is typically 3 hours prep and review to 1 hour in the class room. Read all syllabi (provided by professors, learn to take complete notes, use test taking strategies. (Help available in the Study Center or Counseling Services)

Pitfalls of Social Life. Prioritizing responsibilities, knowing when to say “no”, substance abuse and its potential dangers, popularity and risk-taking behavior, getting help if needed.

Prescription Drugs. If the prescription does not belong to you, the drug in your possession is illegal and will be treated according to Shepherd’s drug policy.

Illegal Drugs. Shepherd has a zero tolerance policy for some drugs and hefty fees attached to others. Please become familiar with our student handbook on-line.

Sex – Consensual and Non-consensual. Understand that consent must be given freely and without coercion or impairment. See our policies on Title IX and Relationship Violence.

Overnight Guests. Practice how to talk to a roommate about things that are important to you or need to be modified.

Do you know where to get help? Student Affairs is the division that tends to student needs and concerns. Contact Student Affairs at 304-876-5030 to seek further direction.

Keeping Communication Open

Now is a good time to role model adult communication skills with your college student. Rather than speaking with authority, it is better to listen and ask questions. This sets the tone of interest in their opinions and ideas, and a respect for their growth as an individual and adult. Your openness will also invite them to keep you informed and involved in their life.

When your student offers an opinion that reflects a new or different value system, try some of these:

  • Why does that appeal to you?
  • Tell me why you feel that way.
  • I’d love to hear what you think about that.
  • That’s very different; what changed your mind?

When it comes to rules at home, perhaps you can negotiate responsibilities rather than assign chores. Curfews may be altered for them to participate on campus if they commute. Curfews on home visits can be tied to consideration and respect for those in bed rather than “because I said so”.

If the parent initiates the change in relationship, the student feels less like they must pull away or rebel in this less structured setting. They are more likely to turn to you for advice if they don’t fear your reaction to what they have to say.

Some books are available that offer good information to parents about college life, stepping back a little, or understanding the developmental stages of this age group. We have listed some popular books below:

  • Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years, by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger (1997).
  • When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent’s Survival Guide, by Carol Barkin (1999).
  • Chicken Soup for The College Soul, “Transitions” chapter, Health Communications (1999).
  • The Truth About College: 50 Lessons for Parents Before They Start Writing Checks, by Will Keim (1997).
  • College of the Overwhelmed, by Richard Kadison, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo (2004)