1. Do encourage them to visit their professor’s office hours. Everyone gives this advice because it is, quite honestly, the best academic advice to give.
Faculty often have regular office hours that are drop-in, first-come-first served style, but I’d recommend making an appointment.
This accomplishes a few things: (a) your student gets practice at sending professional emails to set up an appointment, (b) they have to locate a new building on campus, and most importantly, (c) they get one-on-one time to ask a question, introduce themselves more intimately, and start what should become a semester-long conversation.
The students that come early in the semester to chat usually feel comfortable when the work picks up and the assignments get harder. And the better I know a student personally, the more I can do for them throughout their college career.
2. Do encourage them to fail. This may sound oxymoronic, but I wish more of my students felt entitled to try—and thus, entitled to stumble and even fail—in college.
Sticking to subjects they were good at in high school infinitely limits their possibilities! UVM offers so many majors, minors, and concentrations in areas of expertise well beyond what even the best high schools offer.
Let them try, ask them how they’re being challenged daily, and reinforce the message that the best learning usually happens when students are challenged.
In my experience, students—and first years in particular—rise to the high bars we set, even if they stumble along the way.
3. Do not be tempted to direct your child’s academic career from afar. This includes contact your child’s professors or advisors directly, planning their schedule of classes, keeping tabs on assignments and deadlines, and so forth.
I assume my students can make (and keep) appointments, turn in assignments, manage their syllabus, seek help, ask about grades, and set next semester’s schedule with their advisor.
I also assume that this is a learning process, assisted by faculty, program coordinators, and advisors of various stripes. I treat my students like the (young) adults they are and they are often undermined if parents try to manage their affairs from afar.
Let your student be the adult that we faculty expect them to be. Trust me, we want to see them succeed and thrive, in and out of our classrooms!