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.
The role of the families is still incredibly important – you are they key source of love and support for your students. But 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 move to 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:
Choose classes and major
Join campus organizations
Handle day to-day needs and decision-making
Communicate with faculty and administrative offices on processes
Share feedback or concerns with appropriate faculty or offices
Research areas of interest (e.g., study abroad)
Parents and Families
Provide a loving base of support
Listen more, talk less
Give them space to grow
Help only if it’s truly needed (see Stop, Drop, and Roll)