How to Help Your Student

How You Can Help Your Student Through the First Year of College

Moving Out/Moving In

The most important question you can ask your student as he/she prepares to go to college is “What can I (we) do to assist you with the process of adjusting to your new life in college?” Students want to launch new freedoms quickly, but they also want family ties to remain intact.  Some want fast departures, and others prefer delayed separations.

Developing an Attitude for Success

Students who possess high self-esteem are most likely to take on college demands with the attitudes and enthusiasm needed to meet expectations.  They also experience comfort adapting and adjusting to college, unlike those with low self-esteem.  As a parent, you know your student better than professors, peers, and college staff; you possess an awareness of student strengths and limitations, and you are often in the best position to encourage and support behaviors which, in turn, influence attitudes and motivations.

Setting Goals

One of the primary reasons students leave college early is that their goals and motivations are unclear.  You can assist your student in establishing both short- and long-term goals.  Unless your student is very focused on a particular business major, encourage him/her to explore the many wonderful options the College of Business offers and to use university resources (such as the College of Business Student Services Center and the Office of Career Services) to help select from those options.  Goal-oriented students ultimately do better than those who remain unclear about their direction.

Building a Support Network

What we know is that prior academic accomplishments, social experiences, and personal achievements have less to do with a student’s satisfactions in college than do the quality of academic and social engagement and relationships established with faculty, staff, and peers.  You can assist your student in maintaining the support networks he/she had before entering college, as well as providing assistance in building new ones.

Developing New Habits for a New Learning Experience

The best learning experiences in the college classroom will be those that challenge students to think in new ways, to question the assumptions they brought with them to college, and to interact with people who are different from them.

You can help your student successfully meet these new expectations by understanding what they are as well as how the curriculum is organized and what is reasonable for students to anticipate in terms of class requirements.

Getting Involved

National research continues to document that regardless of institution type or student profile, the more students work to play a meaningful role on campus, the more likely they are to experience satisfaction, achieve success, and complete a degree. Encourage your student to explore options through the Office of Student Activities , the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement , Greek Life , and the Multicultural Student Center .

Accessing Campus Resources

One major difference between high school and college is the number of resources available to students.  Georgia Southern wants to provide a positive, supportive learning environment so that the number of students who succeed is maximized.  Encourage your student to seek out these campus resources when he/she is experiencing difficulty or needs additional support:


Becoming Responsible

Successful college students practice particular behaviors.  They prioritize educational goals, consistently practice good study habits, and manage time effectively to meet these goals.  Their desire to succeed drives them to organize their responsibilities and to practice discipline and determination.  Successful college students also learn to stay financially afloat and take responsibility for their own health and safety.  Further, they recognize the importance of the college years and participate in activities in order to gain the most from their experiences

Identifying and Overcoming Problems

It may be helpful for parents to perform an assessment of their student’s skills even before the academic term begins.  You can ask yourself whether your student can or will accept a new roommate, adjust to new study habits, and adapt to the social challenges of living in a residence hall.  How will your student manage the longer study hours and meet academic expectations that the university experience demands?  Does your student have the skills to balance academic demands and social pressures wisely and sensitively?  Will your student know when academic help is needed, and is he/she one who will seek help?  Can your student get to every class on time, books in hand, assignments done, and mind cleared?  Will your student be in tune with his/her own health and wise about when to see a nurse or a doctor?  Can your student do his/her own laundry and manage personal wardrobe needs:  Will your student respond well to professors?  Does your student have the budgeting skills to make a limited amount of money last through a given period of time?  Will your student find a peer group that offers friendship and the encouragement to excel personally and academically?

Discovering It’s Worth It

From the student perspective, college is about learning how to balance a number of often conflicting emotions and expectations.  Students learn from their successes and from their failures.  Most importantly, they learn to trust themselves and their decisions.   Both the tangible and intangible lessons of college result in a variety of long-term advantages for those who complete their degrees.


Reference: Helping Your First-Year College Student Succeed by Richard H. Mullendore and Cathie Hatch

Last updated: 3/1/2018

COBA Student Services Center • PO Box 8125 • 912-478-0085 •