Welcome CSUN parents and guardians! So, you and your student have finally made it. All the hard work over the years has finally paid off. He or she is now in college. Congratulations!
This is an exciting time for everyone, and there is a lot of change and adjustment. As with most new situations, you may be feeling both excited and worried. We offer a wide range of services to help students deal with the ups and downs of college life. If you feel your student may benefit from counseling, please have him or her contact us to set up an appointment. You may also contact us if you have a question regarding our services and how to help your student.
At University Counseling Services (UCS), we recognize that your concerns are common to many parents and family members. We hope the following collection of frequently asked questions will provide some helpful answers for you.
How is my student doing?
During any particular day or week, your student may seem to be handling everything wonderfully. You may wonder, "Why was I so concerned?" Then again, the next time you talk to him or her, the conversation might paint a completely different picture. They may say "I hate it here!" or "I don't have what it takes" or "I'm not like the other students." These are very common concerns and feelings expressed by students. Just keep in mind that, as with any change, there is always a period of adjustment. And with adjustment, there may be both excitement and distress. Remind your daughter or son that these are common feelings, and share with them how their existing strengths will help them get through this period of adjustment.
How can I tell if my student is in distress?
As mentioned in the previous answer, there is a normal period of adjustment to college that includes both excitement and stress. Sometimes this adjustment can be as long as six months to a year. However, if over time you notice that your student is not coping well, is not acting like her or his normal self, or if grades are declining or the student is withdrawing from family and friends, you may consider suggesting that she or he seek assistance from a psychologist at UCS.
For more information about common issues faced by many college students, visit our Self Help Library.
How am I doing with the change?
It is not uncommon for parents and guardians to experience the well-known "empty nest" syndrome when their student leaves for college. They may have feelings of sadness, loss of control and concern for what their children may be exposed to at a large university.
At the same time, many parents and guardians may feel conflicted when these feelings are mixed with excitement that comes with possibly having more independence and time. It is common to feel a wide range of emotions with this new change. As is the case with your student, the adjustment to change can be difficult and may take some time. Feeling sad during this transition, however, should not prevent you from taking care of yourself. Consider viewing this change as an opportunity to focus on what you really like to do.
What can I expect over the next few years?
Parents can consider developing an adult relationship with their students. This is a new and important way of connecting with her or him, as it recognizes and acknowledges the transition of your student from child to adult. This will convey to your student that you are aware and appreciate this transition, as well as provide opportunities to relate to them in new ways. As they transition to adulthood, keep in mind that your student may not want to share every detail of her or his life with you at all times. Though this may not be what you would like or are used to, it is actually developmentally appropriate as your student gains a greater sense of identity and self.
How can I provide support for my student?
Providing support now will not be drastically different from how you have been doing it. Listening, communicating and sharing are all important ingredients in letting your student know you care. Relaying these messages in a way that acknowledges the adult-to-adult relationship can build an even stronger bond. Again, keep in mind that at times, your student may not want to share everything with you. This is normal. But making sure she or he knows that you care is the key. You can share your views on difficult topics and provide encouragement during times of stress. A balance of advice, encouragement, independence and room to make mistakes can be important in conveying your support and respect.
Though your student may not request it, it is important that you keep in touch. Have a plan for keeping in touch. Care packages, phone calls, e-mails and pictures of special events may be some of the nice things you can do for each other to show you may be out of sight but not out of mind.
What resources are available for my student and me?
There are many resources available to you and your student. It is helpful for parents to be familiar with our services at UCS, as well as available campus resources. This way, if your student needs some type of assistance, you will at least have some basic understanding of the university system and what is available for students.