A Word of Guidance


Top 9 things every Parent of a 1st year Student should know

1. Academic Expectations are High:

University or a professional academic campus is an entirely new academic environment and high school standards no longer apply. You can expect that grades will be somewhat, if not significantly, lower in university, particularly in first year, when there are so many adjustments for students to make. Be patient and encouraging and promote the concept of “doing your best” rather than “being the best.

2. Know What Services are Available for Your Child

If your child confides in you that he/she is having problems with studies, it’s helpful to know what services are available on campus. Even good students look for help. It’s not a sign of weakness — it’s a sign that those students are self-aware and proactive. You can help us deliver that message to your child by becoming aware of the various services and resources of the university. If a student is struggling with learning programming languages, for instance, there are academic skills workshops that may help.

3. Be Prepared for Change

Explorations of lifestyle changes are common during university. Students are exposed to many new and different ideas every day. One day your child may show up with a radically different hairstyle, may change his/her eating habits, or may take on a new political cause that you wouldn’t have anticipated a year ago. Be open for any of these.

4. Adjust to a New Adult Relationship

If you are used to closely monitoring and directing your child’s daily activities, you will likely to find your role shifting over the next year to one of mentorship — of a trusted advisor and counsellor. This can be challenging for many reasons, from habitual to deeply cultural. Nevertheless, encouraging your child to become more independent during his/her university experience will allow him/her to succeed here, and after graduation also. Some students see their university years as a time to explore the world away from home and family. These students often prefer to keep more emotional and often physical distance from their families as they enter adulthood, so your role may change in different ways. This is a new experience for you also. So be ready for this.

5. Keep Track of Important Dates

Your child will be very busy upon arriving at university and important dates and events may sometimes slip through the cracks. Knowing tuition payment deadlines, class drop dates and exam schedules will help you understand what’s going on in your student’s life. You may want to mark these dates on your calendar, just in case. If you know their exam dates, you may tend not to call them so frequently those days and/or during exam hours.

6. Money Matters

Make sure that all issues regarding money and the financing of your child’s education are out in the open. Students have a head start on success if they know how to manage and balance a chequing account and understand family expectations about debit and credit cards and who pays for what. And remember — money management is a learning skill.

7. Support Your Student’s Choices

First year is a time to explore new programs, new courses, and new experiences. Many students discover an interest in something different from what they originally planned. This is okay and many students do change their programs during or after first year. Take it easy. Some students are reluctant to follow their interests out of concern for disappointing their families. Having your support will mean a lot to your child. Help them in chasing their dreams.

8. Understand the Unique Experiences of Students in Hall of Residence

If university hostel is your child’s first experience of living away from home, he or she will have a lot to learn. Living with a roommate, the lack of privacy, learning to clean their own room or to do their own laundry are just a few of the adjustments they’ll have to make. What can you do? Listen to their stories and sometimes their frustrations. Keep in touch over phone and email, and support them to adjust. If you don’t get an immediate response, don’t panic. Your child may be so overwhelmed by all the college work and university-related communications that answering an email from you may not seem urgent.

9. Expect University Culture Shock

First-year students are exposed to every possible tidbit of advice from student success to campus safety and security. Resident students hear all about fire safety, heating-element regulations, no-smoking rules and alcohol policies. Professors lecture on time management, study skills, plagiarism, keeping good company and the value of good writing. Peer students reach out about campus involvement, leadership skills and making smart choices about finances and health. Meanwhile there are study spaces to find, new transit routes to learn, and many new friends to spend time with. So where do you fit in to all of this? Above all, continue to demonstrate love and patience while your child goes through this major life transition and celebrate their discoveries and successes with them along the way.

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