Conversations to have with your student over the summer

A student walks past the arch on Hearn Plaza on the campus of Wake Forest University on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.It would be helpful this summer to have some family discussions about what your student wants to get out of college, what his/her needs are, how you will work together, and what you are hoping for as family members. Those expectations may differ.

While every family will have its own expectations for student behavior – and only you and your student will know what is right for your family – it is important to discuss those expectations over the summer so everyone is on the same page.

Cover the hard topics:

alcohol and/or drug use – in addition to talking about your expectations for your student’s behavior, consider coaching them on what to do if they see a friend in trouble.

sexuality/birth control – also consider talking about the issue of sexual activity and consent, especially in regard to alcohol use (how can you know your partner is actively consenting?)

faith practice (or not) – for some students, college can be a time to deepen an existing faith practice, for others, it is a time to explore a new one, or to practice differently than before.

budgeting/spending money – how much spending money will your students have? will you send a set amount each week/month/on request? do they know how to budget?

personal safety – do you have expectations that they don’t walk alone late at night, etc.? See tips from University Police.

what to do if they get sick – students over 18 have to give consent for doctors and nurses to speak to parents, so if that is important to you, be sure your student knows that.

grades – students have to grant you Proxy Access to see their grades or to talk to administrators (access is not automatically given to parents); also see this information about realistic grade expectations.

mental health – what to do if they find themselves anxious, depressed, etc.? Sometimes knowing mom or dad support them seeking care is the nudge that students need to seek it. The JED Foundation has excellent resources available, including a guide on how to talk about mental health.

How often you will communicate? and who initiates that contact?

Your family may have other topics that are important to you. Be sure to discuss those openly with your students before college starts. You may also want to see some tips about the family transition during college enrollment.