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Student Activities Fair – Usually during first week of semester; check HUB web site for exact date
Benchmarks and Potential Challenges
Try to recall the times when your student was forging new pathways of independence in their past (for example, kindergarten, driver’s license).
Use these memories as indications of how you and your student might behave throughout this transition. For instance, if the student’s pattern is to be very enthusiastic and really “dive in” to experiences and then to lose steam when they arrive, then this pattern is likely to be repeated.
Reflect on how you typically handle major separations from important people and the kind of supports you need from your partner, family, and friends.
In the first weeks of school, be prepared to receive calls home from your student. This is a period of extreme self-doubt. Your student may ask you to rescue them from the challenges that they are facing socially, academically, and physically. When you can, resist the temptation to “be needed” and encourage the student to seek out his or her own supports and solutions. Refer the student to oncampus supports such as Community Advisors (CAs) and Residential Directors (RDs), Academic Advisors, the Counseling Center, the Wellness Center, Health Services, and the PASS office.
If needed, make arrangements in the first week of school to meet with the PASS office to have an intake session regarding learning disability accommodation eligibility. It is very important to disclose to the PASS office about your student’s learning challenges so that they may create a structure in which they can succeed as students.
Ask open-ended questions about favorite classes and what they are reading. Convey an interest in their learning and always ask your student if they want to hear your thoughts before offering up your advice or insights. Talk about yourself and tell them about the mundane aspects of life at home (for example, “I saw that the neighbors have a new dog”).
Do not convert their room too quickly. Students need to know that in this time of tremendous change some things stay the same, and their own room, as it looked when they left for school, is an important stabilizer.
Don’t panic if you have either no conversation or frequent communication with your student. There is no right way to make a transition. Letter writing and emailing notes about the goings on at home may not be returned letter for letter but are deeply appreciated by the student. Know that “being there” and serving as your student’s anchor is a thankless and invisible job and that things will change when your adolescent becomes a grown adult and reaches back to you.
Encourage your student to stay on campus during the first few weekends. The first six weeks are critical in determining if a student will persist through the school year. By attending social events and meeting new friends, your student will be more likely to connect and feel a part of the Plymouth State community.
Encourage your student to join clubs or organizations in order to make social connections. The Student Activities Office sponsors a Student Activities Fair in September. Check on-line for date, time, and location.
If your student is eligible for work study, encourage them to seek an on-campus job. This is a great way for students to connect with potential mentors and/or learn about different opportunities to gain enriching work experience.
Homecoming and Family Celebration brings the separation issues back to the forefront. Don’t be surprised if your student does not want to spend every moment with you or even discourages you from coming for the weekend. Respect their wishes and also know that they may change their minds last minute. Feel assured that by Thanksgiving they will yearn for a “home cooked” meal, freshly washed clothes, and maybe your company.
If you cannot make the weekend or have been temporarily “banished” from the campus, please send care packages in the place of your presence. It will mean a great deal to your student if you send notes, supplies, home baked treats, a newspaper from home, and/or pictures.