Whether you’re thousands of miles away or just down the road, communicating with a college student can be a challenge. The University of Michigan’s M-Parents website provides a wealth of resources to help you learn about life on campus. Learn how to best support your student every step of the way—including advice from other parents and tips on how to stay in touch.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Most parents find that as students become absorbed in life on campus, they do not respond to all phone calls, emails and other contacts. If this happens to you, you are not alone. Keep calling, try email and instant messaging, and send snail mail—students especially love care packages. Your student will appreciate hearing from you even if your messages are not returned. Visiting, especially over Parents’ Weekend, is also a great way to reconnect. “Be prepared for how quickly our children become independent. Communication with parents will be infrequent and typically when something (usually money) is needed. We had received this advice, but were amazed at how quickly it happened!” one parent writes.
- Find Out What’s Going On
A college campus can be its own world, and knowing what’s happening at U-M can help you understand your student. Signing up for email newsletters and visiting the M-Parents website is a great way to ensure you get news from the University. For parents of new students, the website includes a month-by-month calendar of the first year. Following campus news through the Michigan Daily, the student newspaper, can also help you stay informed. In addition, remember that college life has changed since you were your student’s age. You can refer to the MParents website for a guide to student life or a “translation guide” for U-M lingo.
- Know What (Information) is Coming to You
The University of Michigan has a long tradition of protecting student privacy, and is also subject to federal laws that set privacy standards for educational records. You will need to work with your student to gain access to his or her grades, academic standing and University-related bills. To help you understand, the University provides a parents’ guide to the policies governing parental notification and student privacy.
- What to Say?
When you reach your student, make sure to ask about his or her life and share your own updates from home. Also remember that you continue to play an important role in your child’s life, even if it has shifted.
“Keep in close touch, but resist the temptation to be a helicopter parent hovering over your child with too-frequent visits or talking on the phone every day,” another parent writes. “Feel good about the fact that life with you to this point has empowered your child to take the next step on the road toward being an independent, happy and productive member of our society.”