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Parent Survival Rules from a First-year Student

Rule #1: Don’t ask them if they are homesick

The power of association can be a dangerous thing. A friend once told me, “The idea of being homesick didn’t even occur to me, with all the new things that were going on, until my mom called on one of the first weekends and asked, ‘Are you homesick?’ Then it hit me.”

Family at FamilyFest

Rule #2: Email/write (even if they don’t write back)

Although freshman are typically eager to experience all the away from-home independence they can fit in those first weeks, most are still anxious for family ties and the security those ties bring. This surge of independence may be misinterpreted as rejection, but I’d bet that most freshmen (although 99 percent won’t ever admit it) would give anything for some news of home and family, however mundane it may seem to you.

Rule #3: Ask questions (but not too many)

College freshman are “cool” (or so they think) and have a tendency to resent interference with their new-found lifestyle, but most still desire the security of knowing that someone is interested in them.

Rule #4: Expect change (but not too much)

Your son or daughter will change (either drastically in the first few months, slowly over the years, or somewhere in between). It’s natural, inevitable and it can be inspiring and beautiful.

Colin and his family

Rule #5: Don’t worry (too much) about depressing phone calls or emails

When troubles become too much for a freshman to handle (a flunked test, ended relationship, and a shrunken t-shirt, all in one day), the only place to turn, write or dial is home. Often, unfortunately, this is the only time that the urge to communicate is felt so strongly, so you may never get to hear about the “A” paper, the new love interest or the domestic triumph.

Rule #6: Visit (but not too often)

Visits by parents (especially when accompanied by shopping sprees and/or dinners out) are another part of the first-year events that freshman are reluctant to admit liking but appreciate greatly. Pretending disdain of those visits is just another part of the first-year syndrome.

Rule #7: Trust them

One of the most important things my mom ever wrote me in my four years at college was this, “I love you and want for you all the things that make you happiest, and I guess you, not I, are the one who knows best what those things are.”

Family in front of IC Chapel

Rule #8: Stay informed

The university’s website has a wealth of information for parents, including the latest news about the faculty, students, and athletics as well as a listing of campus events. Sign up for the Around the Mount Newsletter and bookmark the Parent Page for the latest updates.



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