Wayne State University

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University Advising Center

Parents: Part of the Success Equation

This is an exciting time for you and your Wayne State University student.  Over the course of his/her studies here, your son or daughter will face many new challenges.  Transition can be difficult for both parents and students,  but as a parent of a college age student, you have a key role to play in his/her success. Listed below is information to assist you in helping your son/daughter attain success at the university.


What first-year students would like their parents to know:

•    Being a full-time student is like having a full-time job.  Although your son or daughter may only be in class for 12 - 14 hours per week, professors are expecting that he/she will put in twice that amount of time or more in studying and preparing for exams and projects each week.  This means 2 - 3 hours per day will need to be set aside for study and preparation, including evenings and weekends, if your son or daughter is going to succeed in college.

•    Administrative processes take time and may not be completed within a single visit. Your son or daughter may need to make repeat visits to a University office to complete some of our administrative processes in the areas of financial aid, academic advising, career planning, etc.

•    Students may experience social stress caused by the change from high school to college. Beginning college is an opportunity to make new friends, explore new opportunities, and begin the transition to adulthood.  Although exciting, it can be stressful and  students may feel insecure about their ability to succeed at first.

•    Students feel academic stress in the first year of college. The coursework is much more difficult at the University level than high school and this sometimes is surprising to students. University professors expect students to become independent learners and will not provide all the material for exams in the classroom. This will require first year students to adjust to new ways of studying and learning.

•    There are other expenses in additon to tuition.  While tuition is a big portion of the expense of attending college, their are other expenses as well, such as parking, books, lab fees, etc. which can be quite substantial each term.  Students need to be prepared to cover these expenses which may not be included in financial aid awards.
Typical or likely behaviors for college-age students:
•    A desire to make their own decisions, even poor ones;
•    A desire to try something new or radically different from previous interests;
•    More need for verbal reassurance;
•    Strong negative reaction to suggestions;
•    Making a new set of friends;
•    Changes in style of clothing or hair;
•    May be less willing to seek advice of parents; and
•    May avoid questions regarding school and friends.

College may cause changes in parent/young adult relationship:
•    The university environment encourages independence.
•    The university views the student as an adult and will deal directly with the student, giving parents limited information.
•    Don't worry about changes in clothing and hair style. Change in appearance is one way that students may begin to assert their individuality and try to fit in with the new "adult" environment. However, if there is an extreme change in behavior, this may signal a need for professional counseling.

How parents can respond effectively and create an environment in which a student may be successful:
•    Encourage your son/daughter in problem-solving and decision-making by talking about decisions to be made. Allow your son or daughter to make mistakes but let him/her know that you will offer what support you can even if the result is not ideal.  Decision-making is a skill that takes practice and with practice, students will make more sound decisions.  Your support will be invaluable as your son or daughter becomes more skillful making decisions.
•    Help your son/daughter to view this time of life as a discovery phase, which is normal and exciting. A positive attitude about the transition will assist your son or daughter to feel less stress
•    Encourage your student to make contact and network with a variety of people at the university.
What freshmen fear most:
•    Making new friends;
•    College will be too difficult;
•    Will have trouble understanding the professor;
•    Won't be able to manage time and get everything done;
•    Won't feel a sense of belonging;
•    Will not be able to measure up to other students in class; or
•    Won't find a major area of study they like.

What students say about how parents can offer support
•    Support and encourage good study habits.
•    Give us the freedom to succeed or fail, and to take responsibility for our own education.
•    Give us the freedom to learn how to cope with the new environment.
•    Give us encouragement and support to keep trying and to do well.
•    Adjust household chores to make up for additional time required by school.
•    Relieve us from responsibility of some of the time-consuming tasks around the house.

Reasons why intelligent students sometimes fail.

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