Your Student’s Back Home: 7 Pieces of Advice for Parents
The day Mom and Dad stood on the sidewalk waving goodbye to Jane or Jimmy as the blinker light took them out of sight and on their way to a new and independent college life, was a moment of independence. Other than spring, summer and winter breaks, the kids would now be “on their own.”
Then came COVID-19.
Now the kids are upstairs again, or perhaps down in the basement, cramming for exams just like they did in high school. It’s an abrupt transition in which Creighton University’s Division of Student Life stands ready to assist. Standing with that agency is the Creighton EDGE program, which provides personalized academic support and resources.
A useful resource is the Division of Student Life’s “Adulting” series, which was provided to students and their parents last semester as advice for managing the traditional student break.
The guidance challenges parents to understand that their “children” are now adults and that University requirements (online counseling sessions, for example) should preclude barging into their rooms unannounced. Their sleep hours will likely be different and they will need to connect with University resources, especially during this time of pandemic when the slogan, “Stay Connected. Stay Community. Stay Cura. Stay Creighton” is especially resonant.
On the other hand, don’t let them slide back to high school habits. They are adults and can do their own laundry, help make dinner and take responsibility for contacting their professors. A roommate agreement, similar to the one they will have signed on campus, probably would help with the changing family dynamic.
Beyond these established guidelines, the Division of Student Life is offering additional advice now that COVID-19 restrictions are reshaping the family dynamic during the regular school year. Drawn from the collective wisdom of Creighton staff and the work of JED Campus, which focuses on student mental health, the guidelines are as follows:
1. Your student is not home for break, and don’t treat it as such.
Students are still carrying full course loads and class schedules. They may have a class scheduled during family dinner time. They can’t supervise younger siblings all day. They may not be available to drop off groceries for Grandma. That’s not to say they shouldn’t help around the house, but make sure that requests for help respect their schedule.
2. Make sure they have the resources they need to be successful.
To the best of your ability, make sure they have a quiet and uninterrupted place to work. Do they have the computer/Internet connection they need? If they weren’t able to retrieve all necessary textbooks and notes, etc., from their residence hall room before campus closed on April 7, have them check with their professor or talk to the librarians about online access to the text. Many publishers are providing free Ebook access during the pandemic.
3. Remember, they are no longer in high school.
They do not need you to remind them when they have assignments due, and you don’t need to tell them when they should start studying for the next exam or writing that paper that is due tonight. They are adults and fully capable of managing their workload.
4. Understand that college students have weird work and sleep schedules.
It is not uncommon for students to schedule meetings with team members at 9 or 10 p.m., and prime study time for most is after dark. Let them do what works for them and remind them to shut the lights off when they finally do go to sleep.
5. Discourage them from gathering with local college and old high school friends.
If your student is a social butterfly, they will want to be with others. But the purpose of these COVID-19 restrictions is to keep people apart. Reassure them that when coronavirus cases start to decline, and government and health agency recommendations allow, they will be able to do things with their friends. For now, stay home as much as possible and encourage virtual interactions.
6. Finally, remind them to be kind to themselves and each other.
Most professors have had a week or less to move classes, assignments and assessments to an online platform. Some may have children home from college, school, or daycare — or elderly parents to worry about. There will be continued bumps in this transition. Its ok to be frustrated. Try to be mindful that we’re all learning together. Jays fly together.