As parents and caregivers, it’s safe to say we want a lot for our kids when they leave for college. Of course, we want them to make good choices, do well in class, and be safe. But we also want them to connect with others, explore their interests, and feel inspired. We want them to find that thing that makes them feel like…. well, “them.”
Here at UW-Stout, we want those things for them too. To do this, we encourage all students to be actively engaged in at least one thing on campus. We call that, finding your ONE.
Students can find their ONE in a number of ways. For some, that may mean they have a job on campus. For others, they may join band, choir or theatre. Others may join a student organization or play an intramural sport. Whatever they choose, it’s important for students to choose something to become involved in. It helps them connect to campus, develop leadership skills, boost their resume and build friendships.
Parents and families play an important role in getting students involved on campus. We know there are students out there that don’t need a nudge in the right direction. But for others, we know some hesitate. That’s where you can come in.
The next time you speak with them, try to have some meaningful conversations about how they’re doing on campus. Check-in with them on some of the following topics.
Connecting with Others
Have they found their crew of people yet? If not, encourage them to do any of the following.
- Download and stay current through the CONNECT app. CONNECT will give them access to search and join events, student orgs, and a number of campus resources.
- Attend a student organization meeting. All of the organizations are recruiting for new members at the start of the semester. It’s a safe space to attend solo or with a friend. It’s also a low-pressure way to meet some like-minded individuals.
- Attend one of the many events happening on campus. From bingo to football games to live concerts, there is always something to do. Attending a simple event could introduce them to an involvement opportunity they never would have done otherwise.
Are they effectively managing their time with all this newfound freedom?
Believe it or not, students tend to do better academically when they’re involved on campus. When they have commitments outside of the classroom, it forces them to prioritize their time and focus. If you find they have too much time on their hands, encourage them to find something to fill that void.
On the flip side, there is such a thing as the over-involved student. Involvement outside of the classroom should enhance their experience, not take anything away. It’s important for their academics, and their mental health, that they strike a healthy balance.
Building their Resume
Building that resume starts now, not their senior year. Employers want to see that students are involved and that will be what sets them apart. Ask them if they’ve joined their student organization related to their major. There are also a variety of leadership opportunities such as workshops, student government or their residence hall association.
College is a time for exploring and figuring out who they are as an individual. Now is the time for them to try new things and see what sticks. Supporting them through their journey to involvement is an important part of adjusting to college life. Sometimes, they just need a little encouragement from home to get used to their “college home.”