Academic Advising Resources

Q. What are some ways that parents could help their students to succeed?

(the following is paraphrased from a posting by Vickie Welsh-Huston at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis on an advising listserv)

I've never made a handout for parents but I do give a presentation to parents on the academic program, and at a reception we have during orientation, I have time to speak individually with some parents. Parental support comes from challenging the child but reinforcing support as well.

(I think faculty ought to adopt this philosophy as well.) Parents need to express THEIR fears and apprehensions to the child, never assuming the child knows what's on the parent's mind. There's an awkwardness at this stage: the child is assumed to be independent and on one's own, so the parent must do the difficult dance on the sideline, ever ready to lend support but always knowing when to butt out. I'd reinforce that we administrators/staff/faculty appreciate the difficult position of the parent.

Also reinforce that the parents must insist on open communication with the child since FERPA won't allow us to give much to parents. And WE shouldn't give much anyway. The parent and child ought to have an open dialogue that does not rely on us too heavily. We can be a mediator to a point, however, as parent and child establish this new (again awkward) relationship.

Vickie, I don't know how valuable this is, but from being in teaching and advising for ten years, I've come to appreciate the tough parental role. Imagine paying big bucks and not getting enough feedback. If all else fails, the parent can stop writing the check (if applicable) but I seldom meet a parent who wants to do that.

You might find something useful on the " For Parents" chapter of CollegePrep-101.

Here are my two cents to add to the list:

Patience :)

They should talk about expectations that the parents and child each has

  • Money
  • Grades
  • Studies
  • How often to contact home
  • Work/Study
  • Dating/Relationships in conjunction with school

Guidance and teaching in everyday items are forgotten and often "bleed" into academic deficiencies:

  • teaching how to balance a check book
  • clean the bathroom
  • do laundry
  • organizational skills
  • calendar skills/time management
  • talk about money, budgeting, credit, scholarships, grants, loans
  • ensuring that their supplies are taken care of i.e.: Not necessarily those new expensive jeans, but how about a computer and a scientific calculator? Microwave instead of that new expensive perfume?

I currently teach a freshmen seminar question and what I think the students would like to tell their parents is related to time: Even though I may not be in class as many hours as in high school, I have many more study hours. I want to still help out at home (?) but I can't (fill in the blank, for my students it has been everything from clean my room to baby-sit the younger siblings so parents can work). Another topic would be that the student would like some interest in the studies but not to direct the choice of major/career. Allow the student to apply their values which the parent has taken the time to nurture.

The first things that came to me were:

  • Help your student understand that coming to this university is a major transition, and parts of it will be easy and parts of it will be difficult. This is normal--everyone experiences some challenges with transitions.
  • Encourage your student to ask for help. Learning is a cooperative effort, and asking for help is a vital part of the effort.
  • Students are not expected to find all of the answers for themselves; faculty, staff, and upper class students have lots of knowledge and they enjoy sharing it.
  • Not directly related to advising... but a great book that I have used in putting together information for parents is, The Parent's Crash Course in Career Planning by Marcia Harris and Sharon Jones. Marcia is the Career Services Director at UNC-Chapel Hill. The book has one of my favorite quotes:
    "If you would be happy for a day, go fishing
    If you would be happy for a month, get married
    If you would be happy for a year, inherit a fortune
    If you would be happy for a life, love your work."
    -- Chinese proverb
  • Another one of my other favorites (not in the book... but from a great philosopher of our times)....
    "If you have dug yourself into a hole, quit digging & throw away the shovel!" -- Paraphrased from famous saying by Tom Grites


Posted in: Advising Students
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
The contents of all material on this Internet site are copyrighted by the National Academic Advising Association, unless otherwise indicated. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of an original work prepared by a U.S. or state government officer or employee as part of that person's official duties. All rights are reserved by NACADA, and content may not be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, published, or transferred in any form or by any means, except with the prior written permission of NACADA, or as indicated or as indicated in the 'Copyright Information for NACADA Materials' statement. Copyright infringement is a violation of federal law and is subject to criminal and civil penalties. NACADA and National Academic Advising Association are service marks of the National Academic Advising Association.

Index of Topics
Advising Resources

Do you have questions?  Do you need help with an advising topic? 
Email us.