Families talking with people at Orientation Resource Fair

Families play a critical role in the success of their students. 

College is a time of discovery for students. 

Students experience many exciting things through this transition - new friends, new classes, connections with faculty, and new routines to name a few.  For first year students, we also expect some challenges as they adjust to life in the residence hall, rigorous classes, and making independent choices.  Learning experiences abound both inside and outside of the classroom, and we are here to support your student as they transition and consider you an important partner in your students' success.

Conversation Starters for Before First Semester

During your student's transition, check in with them about:

  • Ask your student about their academic and career goals—it's not too early to start discussing their Career Success Path!
  • Ask your student about their perceptions and feelings about the use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Research tell us that students consistently perceive that their peers are engaged in the use of these agents at a much higher rate than is actually the case.
  • Communicate clear expectations about the use of alcohol, marijuana, and other substances. You're critical to their success. Help them understand that participating in high-risk activities detracts them from the ability to take full advantage of their college experience. Also, be thoughtful in sharing your own experiences of days past. Stories leave a lasting impression with your student. Revisit this conversation during their first semester, listening to their experiences and providing your own wisdom.
  • Encourage your student to get involved—joining a club, playing intramurals, or attending events will help them feel more connected to campus life.
  • Know your resources. If your student is concerned about themselves or their friends, be aware of the resources on campus by visiting our Division of Student Affairs website.
  • Assess readiness. Review the Family Guide to College presentation (PDF) and the JED Foundation's guide, Set to Go

Questions to Ask over School Break

When students return over break, it can be an adjustment for the whole family. Families, you may have one vision for their homecoming while your student is eager to show off their newfound independence. To help find middle ground, try asking: 

  • What have you learned this semester? 
  • How do you feel you have changed? What has surprised you? 
  • Do you feel connected to the University? If so, what connections have you made? If not, what steps could you take to foster a connection? 
  • Have you connected with your advisor? If not, what are some questions you may ask of your advisor? 
  • Are you feeling excited about your classes next semester? TIP: If your student feels nervous about their academics, reach out to their Dean's office
  • Do you have a sense for what major you will declare? TIP: explore the Career Interest Groups and UVM Connect for some ideas.
  • Have you gone to any events on campus or in Burlington? TIP: UVM Athletics tickets are free for UVM students and UVM Bored has every day of the week covered with events and activities. 
  • How are you getting invovled on campus? TIP: 85% of our students get invovled and we know it increases their success and sense of connection to UVM.  Our Student Government Association is a good starting point.
  • What are you most looking forward to next semester? 
  • What are you most proud of this semester? 
  • What has been more challenging for you this semester?