Tips for Parents
One "Transition" Year Older
At the start of the summer, your student may be celebrating a "birthday" of sorts! The completion of the academic year may signify students’ growth and development into the next year of their college journey. Whether your student is transitioning from her first year and preparing for her second year in college, or is entering her final year of college and preparing her resume, congratulations! You now have a student who is one "transition" year older in her college career.
What can you do to support your student with her transition over the summer and into the next academic year? Consider some of these tips:
From freshman to sophomore
The second year of college can be filled with many questions and few immediate answers. As the summer progresses, you may observe your now sophomore student considering what the coming year will bring.
Common Second Year Reflections:
- Who am I?
- Who are these people I am hanging out with?
- What do my academic studies mean to me?
- What am I going to do with the rest of my life?
- How are my beliefs different than my parents?
Common Second Year Issues:
- Fear that initial success was just "lucky" and can’t be repeated
- Uncertainty about future profession
- Experimenting with relationships that include different types of people
- Desire to experience new communities
- Decrease in friendships back home
- Use of finances for immediate gratification
- Lack of a long-term financial picture
- Begin the search for purpose and meaning
- More personal emphasis on weaknesses, rather than strengths
- The "real world" still seems far away
Sophomore to Junior
Ah, junior year, when you know the ropes and he knows the ropes. Nothing unpredictable or new, no worries! However, it can be an exciting and productive year if a student takes intentional steps to start preparing early for his final year and all that comes with it.
Common Junior Year Reflections:
- What are my goals for next year?
- What are some new challenges I want to take on?
- What do I want to do with my major?
- Do I want to start a career, or go to graduate school, after graduation?
Common Junior Year Issues:
- Starting to seriously consider career options related to major
- May spend time conducting initial search of professions and graduate school programs
- Confident and comfortable with academic expectations—know faculty, the classroom routine and study habits
- Develop trusting and comfortable friendships and more mature relationship with parents
- Less need to go home for summers and breaks
- Confidence and ability to have philosophical conversations with family and friends regarding deeper issues such as: politics, spirituality, academic studies and controversial subjects
- Start to think about starting salaries for career options
- If living off campus, may experience new financial responsibility with costs related to food, rent, transportation and bills.
- Explore purpose in life and spirituality
- Seek new experiences and opportunities
- Confidence in making personal decisions and choices
Junior to Senior
He is officially a senior! Only one more year — you hope — and you will be celebrating his graduation. You may think your support is no longer needed, nor desired, but you can rest assured he still will be looking to you for guidance as he takes the final steps of his college career.
Common Senior Year Reflections:
Many of the questions seniors reflect on during their final year are similar to the questions they will be asked in job interviews or on graduate school applications
- What do I want out of this life?
- What’s important to me — what I am doing, or how much I am making?
- Why did I decide to pursue this major and career field?
- Do I want, or need, to continue my education? When and how?
Common Senior Year Issues:
- Take the first step in job or graduate school search
- Renewed awareness of academic strengths and weaknesses
- Priority on developing relationships with professors for purpose of career advising and job referencing in the coming year
- Fear of leaving the comfort and stability of college relationships
- Redefine relationship with family
- Feel a sense of "job search" competition with peers
- Anxiety about how loans are going to be paid
- Worry about immediate costs such as insurance, car and living arrangements
- For some, realizing the credit debt that has piled up over the college years
- Realizing that maybe what he wanted to do when he started college isn’t necessarily what he wants to do now
- Pressure of living up to expectations of parents, family, peers or faculty
Each student is unique and each student transition is different. However, you now know some of the feelings, experiences, challenges and rewards your student may be experiencing as he transitions from one year to the next.
The Language of Transition
As you refer to your student this summer, ask her if she minds you telling people, "Ari is a sophomore now." This allows her to look forward rather than dwelling on the year just passed.
What Students Need from You During Finals
As students dig into their final academic push of the year, here is what they can use from you:
- supportive comments
- encouraging emails, cards and IMs
- understanding if he/she doesn’t call you right back when you leave a message
- not too much pressure about summer plans
- useful, fun care packages
- help in making arrangements for move out, summer storage, etc.
Students need to know that you believe in them and are there to support them as they go through this stressful, emotional time of year.
Prepared for our institution by PaperClip Communications, www.paper-clip.com.
Copyright 2006, 125 Paterson Ave., Little Falls, NJ 07424