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Smile! When your student leaves home for CIU, you should be his or her biggest cheerleader. College students moving away from home need your confidence. Celebrate this jubilant time with them!
Say good-bye before the last minute...Once your child is on campus, he or she has already begun making that important separation from you. It may be too awkward and public for everyone to have an intimate moment in the presence of other classmates, families and a roommate. It is suggested to parents that they spend some time earlier, perhaps the night before, having a quiet time together to celebrate their excitement and pride. Let your son or daughter know you will miss them.
Little things mean a lot...If you are dropping your son or daughter off at CIU, consider tucking a little note, gift card, or cash into their bag or in their dorm room. Your thoughtfulness will go a long way in encouraging your student and showing them your love in a tangible way.
Transition time...This is an exciting time for both the parent and the student, filled with changes and new experiences. Make prayer a priority throughout the college decision-making process and the transition to college life. Understand that there will also be some difficulties adjusting to roommates, schedules, coursework, cafeteria, etc. Be supportive! Sometimes students just need you to listen and care about the details of their social lives. Encourage them to talk with their faculty advisor or professor to resolve class-related issues.
Communication studies show that non-judgmental listening is one of the most important interventions a parent can make. When listening, however, take care to avoid rushing in with quick-minded solutions. Imposed solutions are frequently resisted with responses such as, "I already tried that" or "Yeah, but you just don't understand." Instead, after you're convinced you understand their situation, ask them what solutions they have considered. You may be surprised to discover that they are much closer to resolving the matter than you may have realized.
Let's talk...College students are busy, so make use of email to stay in touch. Your student can email you at their convenience (even if its midnight!). Even though it's tempting with cell phones, be careful to not call every day. Let your student develop independence. Also let your student know that you trust him/her. However, it is still important to stay in touch. Care packages and cards are effective ways to remind your child that you are thinking about him or her.
Growing up...Be aware that your child will be stretched in new ways at college. Be prepared for some indepth discussions as your college student matures in his/her independence and critical thinking. Pray for your child as he or she wrestles with life issues. Don't be surprised if your student considers changing majors or career goals while he or she is in college. Your student will be exposed to many new ideas, activities, and academic areas. Remember that God is working in your child's life and preparing him/her for the future!
Keep your sense of humor!
Be sensitive... The academic calendar is challenging - tests, papers, speeches, projects. The first week of class (also known as "syllabus-shock"), midterms, and final exams are especially stressful times of the year. Homework, jobs, and social activities fill a student's schedule. Pray for them as they manage their time and make difficult decisions. This is a learning process!
Encourage involvement... Support your student's involvement in activities. Participation in campus organizations, clubs, intramural teams, etc. will help him or her to grow socially and to identify with a group of people on campus. College is more than classes and homework. Participation in extracurricular activities is also valued by employers.
Don't panic when they panic...It is not unusual to receive a late night phone call from an anxious college student. The subject of, and the circumstances surrounding, this call may range from the discovery that they are struggling to do college level work, to the conclusion that they are disliked by their roommate. It is especially important to remember that once they have expressed all their fears and apprehensions, they will feel better. Try to pray with your child over the phone. Being especially encouraging and supportive at these times will go a long way to help them see that their problem may be more manageable than they thought.