Parents and Families

A Michigan Family on Move-in day

Now that school breaks are upon us, you may be wondering about ways to check in with your student about their fall term experience.

College can be a time filled with stressors, time management challenges, and new challenges in independent living and learning.  Being able to frame some questions around these topics will help you get the most out of your time with your student whether in person or across the miles.

One way to get a sense of how the fall has been for your student is to simply ask.  A question such as “how is school?” is often answered with one word and may not get you all the details you are seeking. Try to ask an open-ended question instead, which allows your student to get past the quick "yes/no," "good/bad" answer. Ideas:

  • What has been your favorite moment from this past term?
  • What is it like to live with your roommate?
  • What is it like to live in the residence hall or off campus?
  • How are you managing your time with school work?
  • Have you found a helpful resource or support group on campus?
  • How have your thoughts about college changed from September?

Staying connected from afar is challenging, utilizing technology as best you can to communicate via FaceTime, Skype, texting or the old fashion phone call are all ways you can still ask open-ended questions of your student. 

Utilizing online campus resources such as the Parent and Family webpage will also help you stay in the know about campus details and events that your student may not communicate directly to you.  The website can also offer great conversation topics or starters for your next interaction.

Time away has offered new experiences and growth for your student.  Navigating classes, roommate interactions and new relationships have given them a myriad of new skills and experiences that they will carry with them for life. Read more about what your student may be thinking about coming home at Student Perspective: the Journey Home.

Being prepared to ask questions and respond with open and attentive ears are easy ways you as a parent can continue your influence and support for your college student.   See also What to Expect When Expecting a Student's Return. 

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