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Resources for Parents

Helping Your Student Become an Independent Adult

It is important for parents to understand that many of the basic expectations and norms of this University community may be quite different from high school. Your student is starting the part of their life where they will discover who they are and what they are capable of, and they will do this as an adult contributing to our community. Please understand that we treat students as adults able to make decisions affecting their lives. As you shift your role from that of caretaker to mentor and coach, as we hope you will, we hope that you will challenge and support your student to recognize and develop the skills they will need to be successful in this environment and beyond.

Expectations, responsibility, and accountability

It is important for both students and their families to understand that while there are many privileges associated with being a member of the University of Illinois community, there are also important responsibilities. Illinois students are expected to:

  • actively seek out information
  • communicate needs and concerns effectively, and in a manner that does not disrupt or threaten members of the campus community
  • identify and seek out available resources
  • ask for help when it is needed
  • understand and abide by the rules outlined in the Student Code of Conduct
  • accept responsibility and consequences for their choices.

Your student needs to know what kind of behavior is expected of them both in and out of the classroom; there is a student code of conduct that students are held to and it extends to their off campus behavior. All students are held to the standards and rules in the Student Code of Conduct regardless of whether they have taken the time to thoroughly review it. So, it is beneficial to review it in advance.

Planning in advance

Encourage your student to consider, in advance, what resources may be helpful in difficult situations. If your student actively utilized support resources in high school, i.e., counseling, IEP or 504 plans, tutoring, etc. help them to consider whether or not they will continue to need those resources. If so, your student will need to be pro-active in making arrangements as the onus is on the student to seek out the resources needed. Therefore, you will want to encourage your student to make arrangements in advance of their arrival on campus so as to avoid a lapse in the support they need. Please see our resources document for detailed information about some of the resources on campus.

Resilience and Resourcefulness

Your student is in college as an individual and adult. You are no longer responsible for his or her academic successes or failures. They will make mistakes and experience disappointment and they will, hopefully, learn from them. Many valuable life lessons are learned through failure experiences.

Encourage your student to be resilient and resourceful. Few mistakes are unrecoverable, but your student must be the one to take the initiative to address difficult situations like roommate issues, housing problems, challenging assignments/courses, and course registration issues. Part of their adjustment and transition to campus is learning how to navigate a complex university system- where to go and who to talk to. If your student asks for assistance, help them brainstorm ways they can be resourceful or places on campus they can find assistance and encourage them do so early and before small issues become major problems; their options for managing academic issues narrow the longer they wait for help. Your student can always start with a visit to the Student Assistance Center, their college, or academic advisor.

Self-care

As an adult, your student will be making choices around when and how they take care of themselves and how to manage substances. Self-care is essential to student success on campus. Encourage your student to engage in healthy behaviors to balance the stress they may experience. This includes things like eating well, sleeping regularly, exercise, using substances in moderation (if at all), seeking health care early, taking medications as prescribed, and overall finding the right balance between work and play.

Communication

Communication on this campus is critical. The University communicates important information directly to your student via their email account and it is important that they regularly check and read these communications.

In addition to reading official communications, it is vital that your student communicate regularly with key officials on campus. Students should regularly and proactively communicate with professors about difficulties in their courses, anticipated absences, and other issues that arise during their enrollment. It is at the discretion of each professor whether or not to excuse absences, grant extensions, and allow make-up work or extra credit, etc. so this communication from your student is critical. Your studentís faculty will likely not respond to any communication from their parents. Challenging and supporting your student to develop the ability to communicate and advocate on their own behalf is important because it is an essential skill for their success in life beyond college.

Now that your student is on campus and operating independently, encourage them to understand how important it is to keep people informed about their plans. This includes letting their roommate and housing staff know if they will be off campus for an extended period of time, discussing needs to miss class with professors in advance, informing their family if they are unavailable for a period of time, etc. It is not unusual for faculty, friends, and parents to call the police when they are unable to locate or reach a student. Typically, that student has just neglected to inform key people in their life about their plans.

Given that they may change residences several times over the course of their college career, you will want to maintain updated local address information for your student so that you can share that information in an emergency. Similarly, it is important to know that the only way for officials of the University to locate students in the event of an emergency, is via the local address information provided in the Enterprise Self Service System, which is also the system they use to register for classes. Please encourage them to update their information each time they change residences, and to enter emergency contact information in the system so that we know who they want notified in the event of a health or other emergency.