There’s never an easy answer to the issues, problems or challenges that students and their parents and families experience. Parents often wonder how to best prepare themselves for the experiences that lie ahead. Oh, if only there was a "magic pill" or easy remedy. While there are always unique situations, there are also many common threads that unite the experiences that parents and families have with their college students. We consulted with several of our university experts, staff and parents alike, to develop a list of helpful hints and advice for parents and family members based on these common experiences.

Adapted with permission from 20 Items I Wish I Could Discuss with the Families of All Students by Michael J. Kiphart.

  1. If you were puzzled by your student in high school, you will certainly be confused by them when they are in college; if you were not puzzled by your student in high school, you are in for a real experience while they are in college.
  2. Be prepared for differences in your relationship with your student.
  3. Home visits will be very different than when the student lived at home.
  4. Learn to let go. They are making their own way and will make mistakes.
  5. If your student is living at home while in college, learn to let go and make sure you give your student their own time and space.
  6. Learn to listen to your student. Try to understand their point of view, even if it changes back and forth right before your eyes.
  7. Talk to and with your student, not at him or her. Afford your student the same respect that you expect and require from them.
  8. When your student calls home unexpectedly and in a panic, don’t panic yourself. Give it a day and call back.
  9. Keep your student informed of happenings at home. And, if there are problems at home, assure your student that it is not their fault, or that being away from home did not contribute to the problems.
  10. During the first year or two, try not to press your student about what he or she is going to do after college or with the rest of his or her life.
  11. If your student decides to change majors, be supportive and helpful. Recommend that your student makes the most informed decision possible, using all manner of resources at his or her disposal.
  12. If your student stops or wants to change schools, talk to, assure, compliment, and help him or her make the most informed decision. Encourage your student to come to the Center for Academic and Career Success.
  13. Please do not compete with your student or have your student compete with his or her peers.
  14. Don’t blame the college or university for your student’s behavior, and we at the college or university will try not to blame you for your student’s behavior.
  15. Keep in touch. Write your student a letter or send a funny card when least expected or for no reason at all. Email, if you have it, is wonderful.
  16. If at all possible, visit your student during the first semester after mid-terms. Enjoy the opportunity to experience your student’s life at the university.
  17. If you intend to visit campus, let your student know you are coming. Surprises can work both ways, and usually not for the better.
  18. Understand the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also know as the Buckley Amendment, and its impact.
  19. If you have questions, need information, or are confused, call the Center for Academic and Career Success at 202.319.5655 and let us help you get the information you are seeking. Refer your student to staff and resources at the institution.
  20. Working together—student, parents, family, staff, and faculty—we can achieve and accomplish the most out of the Catholic University education for everyone involved.