Tips for Parents

The faculty and staff at Potomac State College are here to teach, challenge, assist, encourage, and support your student.  We work with you, the parent, to help usher the student into adulthood.  When we work together, then we can truly be partners on graduation day when the student receives a degree as a confident and successful young adult.  This initial adjustment is difficult for everyone, individuals living at home or those who go away to college.  It is a time of mixed feelings and stress, as well as personal, emotional, and social changes.  This transition requires compromise, flexibility, and trust.  Students who experience a trusting relationship with their parents have increased self-confidence, they can stand up for their beliefs and values, and they can say "no" when the situation warrants itself.  Without trust, the student often defies authority, will not communicate what is happening, will look to others for influence, and will keep harmful secrets.

Here are some tips to enhance communication with your student that Student Affairs staff from around our Nation has recommended:

  • Don't cry when you leave your son or daughter at college!  (At least, don't let them see you cry.)
  • Encourage your son or daughter to ask for help.  Asking for assistance is a sure sign of strength.
  • Keep a balance between discussions concerning home events and events occurring at college.
  • Don't make conversations a quiz.  Stop what you are doing and listen, try to avoid asking too many questions.
  • Take the pressure off the student.  Ask what they are learning, not only about grades they are receiving.
  • Make home visits and holidays special.
  • Send your son or daughter their hometown newspaper.
  • Ask what campus activities they are becoming involved in.  (Students engaged in structured campus activities tend to do better academically.)
  • Encourage wellness, good eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Reassure your student that it is okay to be uncertain, to feel overwhelmed, or to need advice.  Remind them that there are many places on campus to get help.
  • Send healthy care packages from home.
  • Resist arguing about who is right.  Instead say, "I know you disagree with me, but this is what I think..."
  • Attend activities/events that they are involved in.
  • Initially, new students should visit home less often.  They adapt to college life easier when they spend more time on campus.  There are many orientation-type activities at the beginning of the semester and opportunities to connect with peers.  Maintaining all high school relationships without expanding college relationships prevents a student from integrating into college life.  Encourage them to stay at least the first weekend to develop friendships.
  • Encourage your student to speak to professors and academic advisors.  Strongly encourage your student to attend every class.
  • Suggest your student seek out assistance at the Academic Success Center.  Everyone can improve their study skills and habits!
  • Visit once in awhile.  Let them know when you are coming so they have something to look forward to.

Please understand that most college students experience problems in their first year.  At Potomac State College, we treat our students like adults.  We make ourselves available and intervene only when there are serious problems.  We respect their privacy, yet don't always promise confidentiality.  We allow them to make mistakes and to solve their own problems.  This risk is a necessary process of experiencing personal growth.  We want you to join us in inviting your student to become more independent.  Learning that no one is responsible for your life but you is a valuable life lesson.  Parents are encouraged not to "fix" things when something happens.  Faculty and staff provide on-going support to help our students make responsible decisions concerning their behavioral choices that help them to become a positive member of this campus community.  We want to assist you in your new parent role as a consultant.  A consultant reviews options, assesses the possibilities, points out avenues and consequences, and allows the student to execute the decision.  Students learn from their own choices.  As long as the consequences are not dangerous, please don't feel you have to step in.

With greater independence and less frequent contact, the parent-child relationship evolves to an adult-to-adult relationship.  This process creates both challenges and opportunities for both parents and college students.  At times, it may be helpful for a student to meet with a counselor in the Psychological Counseling Services Office to discuss any feelings or events that may interfere with the adjustment process or satisfactory academic performance.

If you need further information, please contact Psychological Counseling Services at (304) 788-6976 or simply stop by the office located on the base floor of the Health Center.