During the past nine months, students have developed new friends, routines, habits, schedules, interests and viewpoints. They have been able to come and go as they please, study and socialize when and there they want, and explored hundreds of options for entertainment on Marquette’s vibrant campus in downtown Milwaukee.
Most parents and family members have gone through substantial changes the last nine months too. Perhaps you have gotten used to more free time and a quitter house, or are busier supporting younger children or new responsibilities at work. Siblings have settled into a new role in the family and likely have gotten used to more or different attention.
Stephanie Quade, dean of students, shared insight and tips for parents to consider as they prepare to welcome their student home on The Morning Blend, a local morning talk show. Additional tips and insight are below.
- Anticipate that things will be different. Expect some bumps along the way. Be gentle with yourself and with your student, and tell your student that you love him.
- Understand that this may be a difficult time in your student’s life and may experience conflicting feelings. Some students may be feel like they don’t fit in anywhere, and that nowhere really feels like “home.” Many students long for the nostalgia of their childhood, but yet want to be adults with complete independence. And some students may feel the pressures of life after graduation looming – jobs, careers, financial independence.
- Before students come home, ask if there is anything you need to know, and let them know if there are any changes they should expect. You don’t want to be surprised to see a new tattoo and they students should be surprised to learn that their bedroom has been converted into a den. Help both of you adjust expectations before you are living under the same roof again.
- Let them sleep. Your student has just finished a very busy time in the semester, with projects, papers, and final exams. It may be a while before your student can focus on anything beyond his last academic obligation. Wait a few days before expecting them to fully engage with the family.
- Set time aside with your student for an open discussion about their expectations for the summer, before there are any problems. Will you enforce a curfew? Are their expectations to attend all family functions? What about household chores or transporting younger siblings? Will you welcome out-of-town friends into your home? Who will foot the bills for entertainment? Negotiate compromises and set clear limits. Revisit this conversation when needed.
- Ask your student to share with you his work schedule and any other important dates of the summer. Consult with them when making summer plans that involve them and try not to over-schedule. Parents should expect their college student to want to spend a lot of time with friends and to want some time for himself.
- Listen, listen, listen. Your student has learned and experienced a lot the past nine months. Their developing viewpoints may not mirror yours and you may notice that they have had some practice defending their opinions. Look for and acknowledge positive changes that you observe.
- Model a healthy adult-to-adult relationship. You may be surprised that your student rises to the occasion.
Regardless of your student’s summer plans, this is a great time for students to reflect on successes and challenges of the past year and consider their goals for the future. Here are some tips for helping your student make the most of their summer:
- Ask questions that will help your student think about the “big picture” of what they want from their life, as well as short-term goals they can work toward in the next year. Help your student set realistic and attainable goals.
- If your student has a job or internship, encourage them to make the most of the experience, even if it seems like a menial role. Employers usually respond well when a student takes initiative and asks for opportunities that extend beyond their job description, or shows interest in developing a particular skill.
- Summer is a great time to revise – or start from scratch – a professional resume. Having an updated resume handy will help your student take full advantage of opportunities in the next school year.
- The summer months may be a great time for your student to gather more information about possible careers. Informational interviews are a great way for students to learn more about a particular career and start to network. Perhaps you can suggest people to contact to meet with from your own network. The Career Services Center offers advice for questions to ask during an information interview.
- If your student is interested in studying abroad, it’s never too early to gather information about different programs form the Office of International Education. The application deadline for spring semester abroad is early October.
- Discuss problem areas openly. Do you need to have a frank conversation about grades, drinking or money? While these conversations are never easy, your student may be more receptive to your concerns when she is not in the middle of a stressful semester.
- Remind your student to schedule dentist, eye doctor or doctor appointments, so that this is not one more thing on their to-do list come the fall semester.
- Many Marquette resources are available throughout the summer, including the Career Services Center. Encourage you student to make use of all of the resources available and to talk with someone about their goals for the future, even if it’s not you.
Before you know it, it will be August and your student will be heading back to Marquette. In the meantime, we wish both you and your student a rejuvenating and restful summer!
Many underclassmen will return home for the summer to work, take summer classes and enjoy some downtime. While parents may have visions of “old times,” it’s important to realize that both the family and the student may be very different than they were nine months before.