Know Your Roles

Our Family Communications Guidelines and Philosophy is a great place to start in your understanding of how families and the University can work together to support student success. As your student transitions to college, there are new expectations to embrace.

During the K-12 school years, families were encouraged to take an active part in their student’s education. In college, one of the goals is for students to develop independence, so families’ roles by definition must be different now.

Family members are still incredibly important – you are the key source of love and support for your students. In order to grow, college students need to begin making their own decisions. We encourage families to move away from a manager or director role with their students (where you provide directions and answers), and adopt more of a consultant role (where you serve as a sounding board to prompt their thinking, but allow your students to find their own answers).

Having role clarity can assist with the transition to college for students and families alike. Here are some suggestions on student vs. family roles:

Your student should: 

Choose their classes and major

Make friends

Join campus organizations

Handle day to-day needs and decision-making

Be the one to work with faculty or campus offices when they have questions or need assistance

Share feedback or concerns with appropriate faculty or offices

Research areas of interest (e.g., study abroad)

Parents and families should:

Provide a loving base of support 

Listen more, talk less

Give them space to grow

Be a sounding board

Prompt them with questions, not supply answers or directions

Help only if it’s truly needed (see Stop, Drop, and Roll)

The bottom line: in most cases, your Deac should be the one to do the work, make the call, ask the question, give the feedback, etc. Our students need space to learn and grow – and your problem solving skills are already well-developed. This is their time to find their own way, make their own decisions (and mistakes!), and develop independence.