Checklists for Parents and Families

During the course of an academic year, your student will have many exciting and challenging experiences. As students begin their university careers, transition from one university to another, or begin classes again, many are focused on adjusting to a new environment and developing new relationships. Below are some tips for how to navigate through an academic year while supporting your student.

Adjusting to college life

  • Discuss family and student expectations including your student’s personal and academic goals.
  • Encourage new involvement in campus activities and programs including SOVO Fair hosted by University Student Commons & Activities.
  • Reassure them that adjustment to a new setting is a normal— and sometimes difficult—process.
  • Let your student know they don’t have to protect you from their problems.
  • Encourage on-campus students to get to know their RAs.
  • Be informed about campus resources for crises and difficult times and become familiar with the Dean of Students Office.
  • Encourage attendance at Welcome Week events.
  • Encourage them to schedule their first appointment with their academic advisor to review curriculum requirements and university policies.

Classes begin for your student 

  • Encourage involvement in campus organizations.
  • Encourage exploration of programs provided by VCU Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.
  • Encourage them to take advantage of their professors’ office hours.
  • Ask them about their favorite class or professor.
  • Encourage time-management planning, including time for relaxation.
  • Advise attendance in a VCU Career Services career fair.
  • Encourage a part-time on-campus job for increased social support.
  • Get information gently. “Tell me about your friends” can be a good conversation starter.
  • Make plans to attend VCU Family Weekend.

Midterms approaching

  • Send a care package. Food items and spare change are always appreciated!
  • Listen to your student’s successes and frustrations as s/he continues to adjust.
  • Encourage your student’s interest in campus by reading the Commonwealth Timesonline.
  • Encourage your student to contact his/her academic advisor to evaluate his/her academic performance.
  • Express confidence in personal choices and adherence to personal values.
  • Remind students to see what programs or events The Well or University Counseling Services are hosting.

Final exams 

  • Encourage exercise and/or participation in a program provide by VCU Recreational Sports.
  • Encourage students to attend a Paws for Stress event hosted by University Counseling Services
  • Make sure to share these Stress/Sleep Tips from The Well.
  • Prepare to negotiate expectations around your student’s return home when students’ burgeoning independence may conflict with family rules and expectations.
  • Encourage approaching the end of the semester with hard work, optimism and an attitude of doing one’s best.
  • Promote outdoor physical activity.

Spring break preparation 

  • Learn about VCU LEAD, a Living-Learning Program for sophomore status students or above, focused leadership in professional and civic organizations within a student’s field.
  • Discuss next year’s living options. Listen to your student’s ideas and encourage them to gather information about options.
  • Encourage advice from academic advisors.
  • Encourage balance and stress relief
  • Discuss spring-break plans. Support good choices and values.
  • Make plans to attend the Intercultural Festival and get a taste of VCU’s diversity.

Returning from breaks

  • Encourage your student to capitalize on a new semester while learning from fall-semester mistakes.
  • Encourage new involvement in campus activities and programs.
  • Encourage use of academic and student affairs-support services to hone academic and social skills.
  • Encourage your student to explore possible majors through course selection, volunteer experience and internships.

Finishing an academic year 

  • Discuss summer living arrangements and expectations.
  • Assist in reviewing accomplishments, challenges, growth points and adjustments for next year.
  • Encourage participation in the Focused Inquiry Expo.

General tips throughout the academic year

  • Provide encouragement and support.
  • Help alleviate unrealistic self-expectations and clarify parental expectations.
  • Reflect on your own past, when you were your student’s age. What did you need?
  • Encourage students to ask for help
  • Surprise your student(s).
  • Support balancing and approaching tasks rather than avoiding them.
  • Invite your student(s) to share stories about their friends and acquaintances.