While your child is excited about this next phase of his/her life, and is eager to move out and into the residence halls, parents may be apprehensive about what to expect. Navigating your child’s adjustment to college, the college’s protocols and procedures, and the changes you’ll see in your son or daughter can be both rewarding and frustrating. Below is list of common concerns and a few suggestions for how best to respond. As always, if you are concerned about your child’s well-being, please do not hesitate to contact the Residence Life Office (208-459-5150).
My son is worried he won’t get along with his roommate.
This is a concern for almost every student, especially if that student has never had to share a room before. Most roommates get along quite well, especially those who communicate with each other in an honest, open manner. Talk with your son about what his expectations for the room are, and what he would do if his roommate is doing something that bothers him. Use this opportunity to practice using “I feel” statements and active listening skills. By talking about these concerns beforehand, you are giving your son the tools to deal with difficult situations when they arise.
My daughter calls home with concerns about her floor. Who should she talk with? What can I do?
If the concern is something within your daughter’s control (residents outside her room talking too loud), encourage her to try and solve the problem herself (she can ask them to keep their voices down). If it is a continuing problem, or something that can’t be solved by your daughter, have her go to her Resident Assistant (RA) with the problem. The RA will work with her to resolve the issue and, if necessary, will include the Area Coordinator or Student Hall Director, the staff member responsible for the building. If the problem is still not solved to your daughter’s satisfaction, have her stop by the Office of Residence Life in Hendren Hall. A professional staff member can meet with her. Know that through this process you are helping your daughter to learn how to appropriately resolve a conflict or concern. Of course, if at any point you feel your daughter’s safety or wellbeing is at stake, please call our office immediately.
A final note about student concerns: we often hear from a parent that his or her child will call home with concerns and complaints about living on campus. When we follow up with the student, however, we find a happy young person, adjusting to a new life and not really that bothered by the issues she had complained to her parent about. For parents, this can be frustrating and disturbing – how do you know which complaints to take seriously, and which are a natural part of a transition process? When your child begins to complain, listen closely without making judgments or offering advice. Your daughter may have simply wanted someone to listen to her experiences and her perspective. Once your daughter has talked through her complaints, she may be content to move on, and for her the issue may be over.
My son says he is bored and hasn’t made any friends. What should I do?
The College of Idaho supports more than 60 clubs and organizations for topics as diverse as lacrosse, community service, improvisation theater and sustainability. In addition, our Program Council sponsors weekly activities such as bowling and concerts. Encourage your son to check out the flyers posted on campus and to read his emails advertising events. Challenge him to attend a meeting or event with the goal of introducing himself to at least one new person. Have him connect with his RA or Mentor. These student leaders are trained to help students form relationships with the floor community, and they will help him to make some new friends. If he is interested in joining an organization, but isn’t sure what is available or where to begin, have him stop by the office of the Director of Student Involvement, in the McCain Student Center.
My daughter is nervous about living away from home. Who can help her with this transition?
Two student leaders, Resident Assistants and First Year Mentors, live on each first year community floor to assist with the transition. Mentors are student leaders who are charged with developing strong floor and building communities by providing freshmen with the information to better formulate life skills and understand the culture on The College of Idaho campus. Mentors do this through intentional programming and interactions with their residents. Mentors cover such topics as registration, stress management, study skills, budgeting and communication. As Mentors work solely with first year students, they are only found on first year student floors. On every floor is a RA. The RA provides leadership on his/her floor through intentional programming; problem solving with residents to confront community issues and disagreements; monitoring the wellbeing of floor residents; managing floor facility concerns; and role modeling healthy and responsible behavior to residents. Tell your daughter to contact her RA or Mentor for tips, guidance and an instant friend.
My son hasn’t been returning my calls and I’m really worried about him. Who should I contact?
This scenario happens more than you may think. Usually, a series of unreturned phone calls are signs of newfound independence and a typical busy college student, and are not cause for worry. To contact your son, call the Office of Residence Life (208-459-5150) or Campus Safety (208-459-5151) and give them your information and your son’s information. College personnel will track down your son and ask him to call home immediately. We cannot give out personal information over the phone, as we cannot verify who is calling.
Are you aware of any resources for parents? How can I get involved?
One of the best books we’ve read on this topic recently is titled You’re On Your Own (but I’m here if you need me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years by Marjorie Savage. This is a fantastic resource for parents, covering everything from parenting “quick tips,” to information about alcohol abuse, to a calendar of the first six weeks.
Another title worth reading is Rebekah Nathan’s My Freshman Year. This is the true account of a professor’s journey back to college as a student. Although her school is very different from ours in that it is a large, state-run institution, her report of the pressures, stressors and influences on freshman is insightful and important.