Supporting Your Student, Here And From Long Distance
by Robin Williamson, dean of student affairs
and Rebecca Sarver, director of campus programs and Title IX coordinator
A few weeks ago, we welcomed back more than 650 students to our residence halls. The campus was full of excitement. As we walked around on move-in day, we joked with some parents that the amount of tears shed is inversely correlated to the number of kids the parent has already had leave the house.
Honestly, though, it does not matter how many children have left the house — There is still the question: “Are they ready?” Independence for college students often means 3 a.m. trips to McDonald’s, sleeping until after noon and hanging out with your friends whenever you want. But it can also mean accepting responsibility for oneself in areas they have never had to before: safety, self-care and making good decisions when no one is around to hold you accountable.
At Orientation and throughout the year, Student Affairs offers support and resources to assist students as they transition from being dependent on you to being interdependent with those in their networks of support. We train staff and student leaders in the areas of community building, crisis management, Title IX, bystander intervention and inclusivity. We collaborate with other campus stakeholders in order to help students make sense of the unfamiliar and handle the sometimes-tough situations that may arise during their time on campus.
From a distance, families can continue supporting their students by asking about the campus resources they are using, their self-care practices (e.g. stress management, nutrition, sufficient sleep), and general well-being. Reflecting allows students to process their new experiences as well as reminds them to seek guidance and feel less alone along the way.
While you and your student may not know what lies ahead, your student will not face it alone. Our role is to help prepare them, for classwork and crunch-time study sessions, for late-night food runs, for the hard decisions they will inevitably face, and for life. As the initial excitement of the new academic year turns into the daily routine of classes, papers, and tests, know that your student will receive support, education and great care.