The start of a new school year is an interesting dichotomy for parents and students, especially the first time students leave home. Students often can’t wait to leave for the first time while their parents can feel a sense of loss knowing their child is leaving the proverbial nest.
âIt can be difficult and very different for students and their families,â said Lynanne Jamison, Ed.D., director of programs for new students and families at VCU in the Division of Student Affairs. “It’s definitely a roller coaster of emotions for everyone.”
Even though emotions vary, the general feeling that prevails with each new school year is hope, said Jihad Aziz, Ph.D., acting assistant vice-president and executive director of college counseling services.
“There is hope that the student will succeed, succeed and be safe,” he said.
The pandemic, of course, has added new challenges to the back-to-school process. Jamison and Aziz offer some tips to help parents and students navigate early in the school year.
Advice for parents
Be ready for change.
The college gives students the opportunity to develop their identity and self-esteem, Aziz said.
âIt is important that parents are aware of this and know that their child will experience changes,â he said. âThey will grow up. We all change and this change is usually for the better. This is something good.
Encourage your child to get involved and build connections and relationships with their peers.
âOne thing we’ve found is that students who have a sense of belonging tend to do better in college,â Aziz said.
Trust your child.
Trust the values ââyou instilled in them and the support you gave them, said Aziz
Find solidarity by connecting with other families.
Talk to other parents who are going through the same process or who have already done so. Use some of the organic parenting social media groups that start every school year, Jamison said. (Note: VCU does not monitor these sites.)
Use VCU’s resources for families such as family.vcu.edu.
The website “has a lot of information on how to connect with college and other families,” Jamison said.
âIt has everything from a family blog post we do every week and resource pages to a link to sign up for the monthly Rams Family Update newsletter and a family helpline open Monday through Friday from 9 to 17, âJamison said.
Parents can contact the New Students and Family Programs office at 804-828-7322 and [email protected]
Go from problem solving to coaching.
Let your student talk about the problem and solve it rather than solving it for them, said Jamison.
Tips for students
Talk to your parents about how you want to communicate.
Do you want to talk every week? Do you want to send an SMS? Make a plan with your parents.
âStudents don’t want to feel overwhelmed, but they also don’t want their parents to feel like they don’t care,â Aziz said.
Take a break from social media.
Give up Instagram and TikTok for a while to take care of your own well-being.
“It can help [students] refocus so that they can be successful while they are in college, âAziz said.
Join student clubs and organizations.
âGo out and bond with other students,â Aziz said. âFind peers who may be going through what you are going through and understand your struggles. “
Go to class, whether virtual, in person, or hybrid.
âIf you’re not going to class, you’re missing out on a lot of content,â Jamison said. âThe course helps you build a relationship with the faculty. ”
Build a strong relationship with your academic advisor.
Their job is to help students understand what âturns them on and gets them excited,â Jamison said.
âThey can help you figure out how you’re going to do the things you want to do. And use the Navigate app in the VCU mobile app, âshe said.
Familiarize yourself with your primary card.
Major Maps is a tool to help you understand your course flow.
âIt’s a great tool to help you achieve this,â Jamison said.
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