University of Vermont


For Families

Supporting Your Student

Although your student wants and needs to become more autonomous during the transition to college, it is important for them to know you are still available. Here are a few tips for supporting your student during this time:

  • Maintaining a supportive relationship with your student can be critical, particularly during their first year of college. Even if you and your student were not particularly close prior to their leaving home, it is still important for you to convey your support. You may be surprised to find that some space and distance can help improve your relationship.
  • Maintain regular contact with your student, but allow space for them to approach you and set the agenda for some of your conversations. Let your student know that you respect and support their right to make independent decisions and that you will serve as an advocate and an advisor when asked.
  • Recognize that it is normal for your student to seek your help one day and reject it the next. Such behavior can be confusing and exhausting for families, so make sure to take care of yourself by talking about your feelings with your own support system.
  • Be realistic—and specific—with your student about financial issues, including what you will and won't pay for, as well as your expectations for how they will spend money.
  • It is also important to be realistic about your student's academic performance, recognizing that not every straight-A student in high school will be a straight-A student in college. Help your student set reasonable academic goals, and encourage him or her to seek academic assistance when needed.
  • The fact that your student has left home does not prevent family problems from arising or continuing. Refrain from burdening your student with problems from home that they have no control over and can do nothing about. Sharing these problems with your student may cause them to worry excessively and even feel guilty that they are away from home and unable to help.

Last modified December 12 2013 03:52 PM