The First Year
The start of the college experience is a big transition for both students and their families. It marks the beginning of a new life chapter and ushers in waves of personal change and growth.
To assist with this transition, we've gathered together some helpful advice along with overviews of what you can generally expect during each month. Use this resource to help make the most of your student's college experience.
View the Academic Calendar for holidays and other events.
If you have not done so already, this would be a good time to communicate some of your concerns and expectations to your student. Good healthy discussions about money, personal safety, academic accountability and responsibility where drugs and alcohol are concerned can set an important tone as your student prepares for the college experience.
Now would be a great time to begin purchasing all of those items your student will need at Cal Lutheran and keep an open dialogue about the process and time it takes to adjust to college life. Perhaps your student was very successful in high school. This does not mean that all things will go smoothly in college. It is normal to see a student's GPA drop a bit the first semester. Likewise, although your student may have struggled in high school, this does not necessarily mean that everything will be a struggle here in college.
As students adjust to college life they will need to learn how to balance classes, study time, activities, and friends – not to mention finding time to do laundry! Encourage your student to keep an open dialog with other students and staff members on campus during the transition. Dialog is the fresh air that can lead to solutions.
- Be honest about your values and expectations.
- Encourage your student to seek out academic and other campus resources if needed.
- Talk about time-management.
- Register for The Family Connection Newsletter.
- Make sure you get your student's email and mailing address.
- Write down the names of your student's roommates and swap contact information with their parents (and remember to include goodies for the roommates with student care packages – it gets you big points!).
- Listen. Your student will be experiencing a lot of new things. Be sure to listen well when he or she tells you all about it!
The beginning of your student’s college experience...for many the excitement can quickly change to anxiety and insecurity. Roommate issues and time management rank among the first big adjustments your student may face. Cal Lutheran encourages students to establish respect both in word and behavior, maintain an open and honest line of communication, and exercise patience as they learn about life with roommates. Resident Assistants are available 24 hours a day and can be a good resource for encouraging healthy roommate discussions.
As time progresses, so will the rigor of your student’s academic schedule. It is important to establish a routine and make a habit of beginning projects early to alleviate some of the pressure that comes when mid-term and final examinations begin. Study groups can be a great way for your student to spend time with friends while learning and growing intellectually.
Going to college may be the most significant transition in your student’s life to date. Remind your student that you are proud of them and that you trust them.
- Reassure your student that the adjustment is normal and to be expected.
- Encourage your student to participate in Cal Lutheran Orientation activities.
- Reiterate to your student that going to class and establishing a good study routine are vital to academic success.
- All professors hand out a syllabus. Encourage your student to ask his or her professor for clarifications as needed.
- All professors must keep office hours.This information is indicated on each syllabus.
- Start making plans to attend Family Weekend at Homecoming next month.
- Encourage your student to stay on campus for the first few weekends. Although students may be homesick, staying on campus really is the best way to make friends and get acclimated.
It is hard to believe that mid-terms are already here.Your student’s first mid-term examinations may bring increased stress and anxiety.Trying to juggle the demands of school and creating a social life is a lot of work and can be overwhelming.
Hopefully, by now some of the initial anxieties of being a college student have begun to fade. If your student is further into his or her college experience, you may want to encourage him or her to begin looking for internship opportunities. Internships can prove to be an excellent way to prepare your student for life after college, balancing the demands of a chosen career with the challenges of everyday life.
Encourage your student to get to know professors and faculty and their peer advisers. These individuals can be valuable resources of information and guidance during your student’s academic journey.
- All residential students are assigned a Resident Assistant who can provide help with housing and roommate issues.
- Remember that discomfort can offer some of the best growing experiences.
- Students love to receive cards, letters and especially care packages from home. Care packages can be ordered in the Fall and Spring semesters leading up to Final Exams.
- If you’re here for Family Weekend at Homecoming, think about including your student’s roommates and/or friends in your dinner plans (you’ll find out more than you wanted to know about what your student has been up to!).
- Student Counseling Services is confidential and free to students.
We’re Almost There...
As students near the end of the semester, many will feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. Many will realize the added pressure that comes from procrastination. Writing papers, getting projects finished, and preparing for final exams is stressful for anyone.Your student may at some point start thinking about declaring or changing his or her major. A thoughtful and research-based approach with feedback from professors, the Career Center, and a faculty adviser can help with this kind of decision-making.
Now is also a good time to encourage your student to achieve a balance. This includes a healthy diet, adequate sleep and exercise, and some relaxation. Stress lowers resistance, making your student more susceptible to illness.
Convey your confidence in your student’s abilities. Remind him or her that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is important that students keep going to class and meeting with professors during office hours. Staying organized and focused will lead to success.
We Made It!
Finals are here and the holiday break is approaching. Students are completing papers, staying up late studying, and getting ready for their final exams. And you may be excited for your student to come home so that you can all be together again as a family.
Be mindful that these extended breaks can cause challenges for the entire family. You may have many family events planned, but your student might have other ideas. Catching up on sleep, eating you out of house and home, and spending time with friends might very well top the list of things to do while on break (reconnecting with old friends can help students de-stress). Please remember that some things will never be the same. Keep family traditions going as much as possible, discuss plans for the break well in advance, and be flexible.
- Be prepared for new behaviors (hair, dress, accent, food preferences, establishing boundaries, etc.).
- Remember students have been setting their own curfew.
- Respect is a two-way street.
- Hug them whenever you get the chance!
- FAFSA applications for next year are available starting in January.
Here We Go Again
January signals the beginning of the spring term. Many students may have already established a formula for academic success, but for others, this can be a new beginning. Getting back into the swing of things can be challenging so this is a good time for students to meet with their faculty advisers and dust off their time-management skills.
It is also a time to get back into a healthy routine. Remind your student to get enough rest, perhaps get involved in intramural sports (very popular at Cal Lutheran!), attend a fitness class at the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center or check out the lap swim hours at the Samuelson Aquatics Center.
For students nearing graduation, extending their education may be the next step. Graduate school applications are due this month. Offer your support, as this can prove to be a challenging time. Balancing a full course load is hard enough.The added pressure of getting applications in on time can bring about new stresses and challenges.
Families and students may again go through some separation anxiety. Just remember, sixteen more weeks and it will be summer vacation!
- Final grades are available to students on MyCLU.
- This is a new semester and can be a new start.
- Reassure your student that his or her feelings are normal for a second-semester student adjusting to college.
- Continue to encourage and support your student.
- Don’t forget to pack a coat – Southern California winters can drop down into the 50s (Brrr!).
- Check CLUsports.com for Cal Lutheran’s spring athletic schedule.
Back in the Routine
Although it is still early in the semester, some students are already feeling the pressures of keeping up with assignments, projects and tests. Procrastination is the number one culprit for failure. Remind your students to take advantage of Cal Lutheran’s campus resources.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, many students focus more on their relationships than on their studies.Your student may need a gentle reminder about maintaining a balance. Encourage them to stay focused, manage projects and assignments, and attend class regularly.
As students look forward and begin to plan for spring break, distractions may arise. Encourage your student to stay focused and get ahead on semester-long projects so that the break can be as relaxing as possible.
- Encourage your student to "hang in there" but to seek help (from Resident Assistants, professors, peer advisers) if needed.
- Remind your student to visit the Career Center to learn about internships.
- Remember to send notes of encouragement. Care packages are always well received.
- The priority deadline for filing FAFSA applications for the next school year is March 1.
Break Is Near
As we begin the homestretch, March brings us not only to Spring Break, but also to mid-term exams. It is also time to begin thinking about living arrangements and class schedules for next school year.
Encourage a thoughtful approach to Spring Break planning. Help your student talk through some options, taking into account financial implications and his or her current academic standing. A low-key Spring Break could give your student an opportunity to rest, get caught up on schoolwork, and prepare for a strong second half of the semester. The Cal Lutheran Community Service Center also offers students the opportunity to participate in Alternative Spring Break trips. It’s a great way for students to learn about other cultures, help those in need and have a lot of fun along the way!
When is the best time to Study Abroad? Students will work with their faculty adviser to determine which year and semester is best for them. Cal Lutheran recommends that students study abroad starting the second semester of their sophomore year. Students are encouraged to begin planning their semester or year abroad as early as the first year to ensure that the available courses fit into their four-year plan.
- Encourage your student to make an appointment with his or her faculty adviser in preparation for fall registration.
- Tutors in the Writing Center can help students with papers, lab reports and more.
- Be supportive – remember that the passage to independence may be gradual.
- Pack some multivitamins in one of those care packages you send.
Wow, We’ve Made It!
Well, almost...the pace has certainly escalated since the start of school. Many students will experience considerable stress and fatigue as they work to coordinate all of their projects, papers and group assignments – not to mention preparing for final exams.
It is important that families encourage students to do the best they can. It is okay to reevaluate goals. As students close out their academic year, their thoughts may change to summer jobs, summer school and planning for next school year. Reinforce the need for your student to make an appointment with his or her faculty adviser and to register for fall classes as soon as possible. Getting next year’s courses scheduled now will help your student be more organized in the fall.
If your student is interested in an internship or summer job, he or she might want to stop by the Career Center for assistance. Visit early; procrastination can lead to your student coming up empty-handed.
- Finals week Care Packages can be ordered online and delivered or picked up on campus.
- Suite and roommate selection for the next school year takes place this month.
- Encourage study breaks to exercise, take a stroll or eat a healthy snack.
- It’s not too late to join a study group.
The end of the academic year brings a bag of mixed emotions. Students are realizing that once final exams are over, many will be packing up and moving home for the summer. Leaving new friends and wondering how parents and family will react to new-found independence may cause anxiety.
Students may also be concerned with parental reaction to their academic performance. It is important for families to understand that grades alone do not provide a full picture of a student’s academic progress. College is definitely different from high school. It takes time to develop note-taking and test-taking skills, along with study habits and time management abilities.
- Final grades are available to students on MyCLU.
- Continue offering encouragement to your student.
- Make decisions concerning summer school and work plans.
- Get your student’s room ready.
- Evaluate "house rules" and be willing to compromise.
- Check in with your student to make sure they are registered for the fall semester.
- Enjoy the summer; the fall semester begins in August.