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Parents 101

Some timeless advice for parents of new and old students alike.

From the students:

1) How do you want to stay connected with your parents via phone, text, mail, and visits?  How often?

My mom and I usually talk on the phone once a day for about 5-10 minutes, but we are probably closer than some other pairs! We established beforehand that this would be the general communication plan (very informally), and I think that's important so neither parent nor student gets let down. Other than Family Weekend, my family is too far away to visit - but I knew that would be the case coming to Hendrix from so far away.

2) What do you want your parents to ask about?  What is off-limits?

Especially at first, I think it's important to keep it as open-ended as possible --"How was your day?" and "How are your classes going?" Since freshmen are still figuring out the little things for themselves, forget about trying to explain everything to them. I think the key is for students to accept that their parents will want to ask questions, and for parents to accept that their students may be overwhelmed with new experiences that are hard to describe "if you weren't there...."

3) What advice has your parent given you that has been helpful?

  • To exercise: I can't say I usually follow this advice, but I am thankful that I have it nagging me, particularly as it is a great stress reliever if I can get myself to the WAC.
  • To go to extra help even if I don't think I need it! This has helped me out and given me the push to go (where I've benefitted - even if I didn't have questions of my own) so many times.
  • Don't study in your dorm room... it's SO helpful to separate your “study” place from your “home” place, even if it may seem more convenient to combine the two. Plus, Hendrix has numerous cute study nooks - all my friends have their own favorite “study spot.”

4) What was the hardest part about starting college?   

The fear I wouldn't make any friends, as I didn't know anyone else coming into the freshman class. Absolutely unfounded fear - Hendrix is such a welcoming community. As cliché as it sounds, I did great just being myself.

From the parents:

1) What advice have you given your student to deal with issues like homesickness, roommate troubles, class troubles, general anxiety, etc.?

  • Homesickness: My advice has been to keep herself challenged and immersed in a variety of activities. Try to remember that most kids on campus are going through the same things you are so “reach out your hand” and be friendly, caring and considerate.
  • Roommate troubles: First, be respectful and tolerant of your roommate and their likes/dislikes. Second, remember both of you are adjusting to a new situation. Third, communicate likes/dislikes from the beginning. Fourth, remember the boundaries between being a cohabiter of the same space and being a friend - don't take advantage. Fifth, if you can't work out a situation, go to the RA before it escalates. I'll add that the Hendrix roommate contract that the students sign on move-in day is a terrific idea.
  • Class troubles: Take an objective look at the situation and consider how you, the student, might be causing or exasperating the issue. Go to the professor's office hours for general extra help even if you don't think you need to, as you might benefit anyhow and it will certainly foster better communication and possibly better understanding between both of you to have this more personal interaction. Talk to an objective person, for example, your advisor, and get (and be open to) their opinion. If you still feel that there is an issue, make an appointment to directly address the issue with the professor. Finally, go to the appropriate dean, if absolutely necessary, but only with a fair assessment of what you believe the issues are on both sides.
  • General anxiety: You’re probably not organizing/prioritizing enough, so reassess and re-evaluate. You're probably not getting enough sleep, so sleep more. You're probably not exercising enough, so exercise more. Sign up for a volunteer opportunity, even for just a few hours, so you can get yourself away from the situation and reconnect with the bigger picture of life. GET INVOLVED! If you sit around and wait for things to happen they usually don’t…it takes effort and energy to get involved but you will never regret it! These 4 years will be some of the best times you can remember…make the most of them.
  • As for general advice, always be open to new opportunities. Always to the right thing.  Life is just easier when you do the right thing. You should always try something once (if legal and safe), as you never know what may result. And always ---- Smile. Be kind. Be humble. 

2) What has been the hardest part about your student starting college?

I think that is hard is worrying about how they are handling the hard things that have come their way. But Hendrix does such a great job of giving the students resources and helping them adjust. We have so much faith and confidence in what they are doing at Hendrix that it has been a huge relief!

3) What other advice would you give to parents?

Don't be hurt or upset if your child is not in constant contact. Be happy for them that they are busy and involved.  Give them some space and realize that you have done your job right. Your child is independent and able to function without checking in with you all the time! While it might make you sad that you are no longer the center of their universe, it is a good thing. They are growing up and able to function in the real world!

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