Encouraging Your College Student

By Elizabeth Boock on March 11, 2020

The day has finally come to send your student to college. He may be your first, middle or last, but no matter what, it's a big change. For the first time, your student will be "on their own."

In some ways, this will be a lot harder for you than it will be for the student. Letting go and having faith that you've prepared your student well can be difficult, but it's also the best thing for both of you.

Just because you can't be present with your student doesn't mean that you can't still actively contribute to his life. Most college students may not ask for it but would love a little encouragement, help and support.

Communicating with Your Student

After dropping your student off at Cornerstone, you may want nothing more than to send him a text asking how college is, what his roommate is like, if he has figured out his schedule yet—the list goes on. Check in within reason, but give your student space. You can never go wrong with an "I love you" text here and there or just letting your student know you are thinking of him. I always appreciate it when my parents make an intentional effort to help or encourage me.

Let your student know you're thinking of him, but don't create expectations that he needs to check-in. It may be helpful to have an open conversation with your student about what you each consider to be a reasonable amount of communication, whether it's over the course of a day, week or month. This is an opportunity to work together to find a new normal. He is going to be busy with classes, going for late-night fast food runs, checking out new opportunities and making friends. Trust that your student is going to be okay and the fact that they're not reaching out is actually probably a good sign that they are building relationships and working hard.

Coming Home

We were encouraged my freshman year not to go home until fall break as the first couple of months are crucial to getting to know people and integrating to campus. I agree wholeheartedly with this, but I do remember going home one of my first few weeks at school. There was a lot going on, and I needed space off campus. So, I texted my mom and asked her to come pick me up.

I'm glad that I was able to go home and have that space. Let your student know that the option is open to him, but there's no pressure. Then if he does come home, treasure it. Make him feel loved and missed.

Encourage your student when he is at school to make the most of it, but help him to understand his limits. When I came home that weekend, I was stressed and my parents knew that. They gave me good advice on what I should do to deal with the stress but never discouraged me from trying new things or opportunities.

Spoil Them

We college students tend to be pretty poor, pretty hungry and pretty stressed. You can help with that! Spoil your college student.

Take him out shopping. Have favorite treats at home or, better yet, send the treats to school. Write encouraging letters so he has mail to open up. If you know your student has a busy week and you live close enough, offer to come help with anything he might need. These little things make a world of difference.

Celebrate Them

Celebrate your student's victories. Show him that you're proud. College can be tough, especially the first year. Encourage your student by letting him know you believe in him.

Every student is different and needs different things. Know that while your student might not always ask you for help or thank you for it, he really does care. We'll take all the help we can get!

To see questions frequently asked by parents, visit our For Parents webpage!

Category: For Parents