You send your college student off to college with high hopes. It was a long road of applications, SATs, essays, and finally decision making. You and your college student have survived and now you are ready to sit back and watch him thrive in the environment that he chose.
Suddenly, things are not going as planned. Your student is struggling and having difficulty. Your student may or may not be sharing details with you, but you sense that something is wrong. You feel completely helpless, and you want to help. This is every college parent’s nightmare.
Your student may be struggling for any number of reasons — from lack of preparedness, lack of motivation, lack of perseverance, too much partying, mental or emotional difficulties, or just plain homesickness. Whatever the reason, you’re at a loss for where to turn.
Here at College Parent Central, we want to help you navigate all of the phases of college parenting, and for many families that includes navigating the dark waters of a student in trouble.
This post is an index to get you started. Find the articles that most speak to your situation.
We hope you’ll also spend time browsing the site to find the articles that are most useful to you now — and in the months and years to come.
Here are a few things to think about right away —
- How do you and your student face the immediate crisis? Having a clear understanding of the problem will help.
- Are there underlying causes that led to this situation?
- How can you and your student work together to find a solution?
- How can you decide on a course of action?
When something goes wrong, you and your student are both in crisis. It may help to know that you are not alone. It may also help to remember that the definition of crisis is a moment when a decision needs to be made. Something isn’t working, and you and your student will need to face some decisions. The beginning is to clearly understand — and discuss with your student — exactly what the current situation is.
Understanding Causes and Difficulties
Once you understand what the situation is, you and your student will need to try to understand what caused the moment of crisis. If your student can’t get to the root causes, he is likely to find himself back in this situation again. This may not be an easy process, but once the causes are discovered, the repair process can begin.
Working Together Toward a Solution
Your student may need your help to begin to move forward toward a solution. It is important to remember that your role may be largely to act as a sounding board. Your student will need to be the one to take action, but you can help him think about the best action to take.
Deciding on a Course of Action
Depending on your student’s situation and the factors that caused the crisis, the course of action may be clear or it may involve difficult decisions. Help your student to realize that his goals are attainable only if he can create the action steps that will get him there. You may need to help him break down the bigger goals into the smaller, immediate actions that will help him resolve his situation.
Many students will encounter difficulties during their college career. The lessons that they learn from these difficulties, and the way in which they handle these difficulties, can be some of the most valuable lessons they will learn. Remember that you and your student want the same thing — success, however you both define it. Your support and guidance can make the difference in how your student faces challenges.