Tips for Families

Student working on computer.

Support Your College Student

Tips for Families from Academic Advisors

During shelter-in-place orders, academic advisors compiled a list of recommendations for families to help support students living at home, in unanticipated circumstances.

Here are academic advisors’ tips.

  • Students need a quiet space free of distractions and interruptions to attend classes and do their work. Many students say they struggle to stay focused and distractions only make it harder. Be respectful of “do not disturb” time – let them work without interruptions during classes, quizzes, midterms, tests, meetings, tutoring, therapy, and other appointments.
  • The work of a college student is akin to a full-time job. For every enrolled unit, a student should expect three hours of work per week (includes lectures, labs, and other in-class work, as well as studying, project meetings, and assignments outside of the classroom).  For example, a 15-unit course load is equivalent to a 45-hour per week commitment.
  • Make coursework the priority. Students feel conflicted about trying to balance school and family expectations. Pre-determine family time or commitments (housework, caring for family members, etc.) together. You may want to consider a shared calendar for planning purposes. Try not to overburden students with housework or family obligations that would not have otherwise been possible.
  • Acknowledge your student’s hard work and provide encouragement. “Keep it up!” “You impress me.” “I know you are working hard, how can I help you?” “Do you know how proud I am of you?” “How are you holding up?” Words of encouragement go a long way.
  • Check in on your student’s emotional wellness. Students report a sense of lost independence, feelings of loneliness, and frustration over missing out on certain activities, amongst many other things. Encourage your student to get outside if possible and/or connect with family/friends on virtual meeting platforms. Professional care from a mental health professional may be useful as well. 
  • Promote open communication and practice mindfulness. Take the time to recognize your student is in a different environment and only has ten weeks to adjust and succeed. Ask them what you can do to help support them.