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Help Your Student Succeed

Past Family Engagement Session

Watch the replay from January 2021 to hear directly from our panelists of UW-Green Bay staff members about what family members can do to support their students.

A Message from Vince Lowery, Director of Student Success and Engagement at UW-Green Bay, regarding how to help your student succeed:

People say “College isn’t like high school,” but what does that really mean? A lot of the differences boil down to one thing: the learning and social environment is set up to give students more control over their learning and their lives. Because that control is so new and there is so much riding on their decisions, they’ll look to you for guidance. Here are some things to know and ways you can help them with the transition from high school to college:

1) A lot of the learning in college takes place outside the classroom, which means that they need to be able to get stuff done on their own. There will be lots of demands on their time, and taking care of all of those things, whether it’s homework, a job, family responsibilities, or social obligations, requires a plan. A planner and a to-do list won’t get stuff done on their own, but they’ll help your college student keep track of what they need to take care of. And you can ask your student what they’re up to in class and out. Showing them you’re interested signals your support while also reminding them to stay on top of what’s important.

2) College is about connections with not just friends but university staff and professors. Your college student is used to being around the same people day after day, but now they’re going to be surrounded by lots of new people, so encourage them to make new friends. They should also take time to get to know their professors and any staff they’re working with. Visit their offices, ask questions about what the best college students do, and why people around the university do the work they do. These people are their new support network that will help your college student get through college.

3) Everyone stumbles at one point or another, but how we respond to our struggles matters more than the fact that we struggle. When your student struggles, they may want to give up because they think they can’t be successful. Here’s a really good response to that: “You haven’t figured it out yet, but you will. You just need to try a different way.” There a lots of reasons why college students might struggle, and often it is just because they haven’t found the right way to do something yet. Helping them see failure as a momentary experience and not as who they are and what they are capable of will enable them to continue to grow throughout their college experience.

4) Asking for help can be a really hard thing to do, but we all need to do it. If your college student is struggling academically, socially, or personally, they need to know everyone struggles at one point or another, and reassure them that there are people all over campus who can help them. They may look to you to help them solve the problem for them, but they need to recognize they’re in an environment where they need to start handling things themselves. You’ll have a chance to find out about these support services during GBO, so you can remind them about the offices that can help them.

5) Above all else, college is an opportunity for your student to learn how to take charge of things. In high school, many students look to others to guide their decisions; in college, students should gather information and then make informed decisions for themselves. That can be intimidating for some students, but the key is for them is to talk to people who can inform them and then make the best decision possible. You can offer advice, too, but encourage them to decide for themselves. College is the start of the next stage of their lives, when they’ll be expected to make decisions on their own.