Tips for Parents
Conquering Fear Factors:
What Students May Be Thinking
Getting involved, meeting new people and finding your place on campus can be overload for some students. They may have certain fears — whether you deem them "rational" or not — about all of it.
Here are some of the fears they may express when thinking about getting involved:
- I'm afraid I'll look stupid.
- What if no one agrees with what I say?
- This is my chance to make a good first impression — I don't want people thinking I'm a dork.
- What if my voice shakes when I talk or I don't make any sense?
- Will people in this group accept me?
- What if I'm so different from the others that we have nothing in common?
- Will I self disclose too much, making others uncomfortable?
- Will I seem smart enough to be in college if I open my mouth?
- What if the group attacks me? Will I be able to respond intelligently?
Some students imagine the "what ifs" and let their fears get the better of them. You can help by:
- Listening without judgment
- Not just offering "You can do it!" encouragement, but going the next step to help them figure out how they can do it
- Reminding them that college is full of all sorts of people to connect with, not necessarily the cliques they may have experienced other places
- Encouraging them to talk with a support person on campus about their fears, whether it's a residence hall director, an advisor, a coach or a counselor — there are lots of folks ready and willing to listen and problem-solve with your student!
- Letting your student know that you support her, no matter what, and reminding her of times when she has attacked her fears successfully — that'll help build her confidence mightily
It's natural to have some fear of the unknown — and college life holds its share. Yet, with your support and that of other good folks on campus, we can all set your student up for success!
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