What to Expect
Although each Resident experiences different issues and concerns when coming to college, the Office of Student Housing has provided some brief insights that will be helpful as you work to understand the challenges that your son or daughter may be facing.
The First Few Weeks on Campus
The first few weeks on campus are an exciting time for students. They meet new people, test the boundaries of their new found freedom and begin a new and challenging academic experience. These first few weeks can be the biggest highlight or the biggest struggle of your student's college experience. Your student has a lot on his or her mind; living with a roommate, finding the right classroom or sharing bathroom facilities with others for the first time. Whatever the case, the journey through these first few weeks sets the course for your student's college career. Many of these experiences will test your student's ability to balance their academic and social lives. Our staff is available to answer questions and guide them through this transition period and help throughout the year.
New students face many challenges as they adjust to living on campus. For some, it may be the first time they have ever shared a room. Others may be struggling with the laid back approach college professors take and the realization that they really are responsible for managing their own time. Though it doesn't happen with every student, most parents should expect an occasional worrisome call home from their student. Your student may say "I want to come home", "I hate it here", or "I don't fit in." Or your student may be more specific and tell you "I was up all night studying for a test," or "My roommate's boyfriend is over all the time." For the most part, your student just needs to vent. Although you may be tempted to dive in and troubleshoot, we encourage you to listen to your student and allow him or her to work it out. Direct your students to the resources on our website which will help them to help themselves.
Transition to College
Communication: It’s Key!
Sometimes college students find themselves too busy for a daily phone call. We encourage you to set expectations regarding how frequently you expect to hear from your student, and to explore other ways to stay in touch. Text messaging and e-mails are great alternatives to talking on the phone. On that note, each semester we are contacted by parents, family, and friends who are unable to get in touch with their student. More often than not, we find that phone batteries are not charged, phones were lost, or the student fell asleep and never returned the call. Here are some tips to keep communication open:
1. Remind your student to return your calls or text messages.
2. Remind your student to charge their cell phone daily
3. Purchase an extra battery so that your student can keep their cell phone charged.
4. Purchase a phone card for your student in case their cell phone is out of order.
5. Remind your student to e-mail you if they have problems with their cell phone.
Solving issues and problems:
You are their advisor, and students will often call you when faced with challenges. During their early years you, as parents/guardian, were expected to advocate and solve their problems. Now it’s their turn to learn “how to” advocate and solve his or her own problems. It is important that you remain involved in your student’s development process. As your relationship transitions, you will find your role to be more of a mentor or a coach.
We recognize it is often difficult to refrain from jumping in to “fix it.” When your student calls listen and determine if they are calling to ask for help or just to vent. You know your student best, and will be able to assess the situation better than anyone else. If they are calling to vent respond with sympathy and encouragement. If they are in need of help suggest they utilize resources on-campus. Guide and support them to resolve their own conflict, problem, or concern.
Communicating with the College
While we recognize that parents and guardians want to be informed and involved in their student’s college experience, it is important to recognize that certain types of student information cannot be shared due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). We suggest that parents and guardians speak with their student for information about academic, disciplinary, and health records. GTF Student Housing employees can not release information to parents or guardians without a signed consent waiver form from the student.
How to remain involved
These questions were developed to assist parents and guardian create an open dialogue with their student throughout their transition at college.
Q: Do you know your Resident Assistant?
The RA lives on the floor and attends classes. They are available to help students. Encourage your student to seek the RA for help.
Q: Do you know the Resident Director?
The RD is available to help students with conflict mediation, roommate, and other personal concerns. The RD has scheduled office hours.
Q: Have you attended any residence hall/campus activities?
Bulletin boards list many of the college programs and extracurricular activities available to students. Students often get more out of college with campus involvement. Encourage your student to get involved.
Q: Are you eating well and getting enough sleep?
Many students develop unhealthy sleeping and eating habits. This can affect their academic and personal lives. If you suspect an eating disorder contact professionals on campus.
Q: Are you learning to compromise and negotiate with your roommate?
Learning to compromise and negotiate so that students can live and work together can be one of the more important opportunities that a college provides. Being “best friends” is not important and, in fact, can make rooming together difficult.
Q: Have you made sure to budget enough money for the week?
Students are better able to manage their finances if they learn to create a working budget. Encourage your student not to keep large sums of money in his/her room.
Q: Are you locking your door and keeping personal belongings secure, even if you leave just for a few minutes?
The best way to protect their belongings is to keep the door locked.
Q: Have you created a schedule to manage your classes, projects, and other activities?
The best way to manage time is with a planner. Encourage them to check it every morning and carry it with them. Remind them to schedule some time to relax.
The Residence Hall Community
Your student is now living in a new community… the GTF Student Housing community! As a community member, your student’s actions impact others and other student’s actions impact your student.
Tips to Share with your Student
1. Read the Resident Handbook: Abide by the policies and procedures set forth in the Handbook. Rules and Policies are there for the safety of the community.
2. Report suspicious behavior: Encourage your child to speak with campus security, an RA, or Housing staff if they see something in the community that is concerning (such as odd behavior from another student, maintenance concerns, etc.)
3. Participate: Encourage your student to attend floor meetings and hall programs.
4. Get to know other residents: Help your student understand the importance of getting to know other students.
Most of our residents will be living away from home for the first time. They now have the opportunity to make choices, decisions, and value judgments for themselves. No two people are alike. Appreciating and embracing differences will be one of the most valuable lessons they will learn from on campus living.
The art of negotiating begins when students live in residence halls. Different habits, schedules, and lifestyles can lead to conflict. Living with roommates requires the willingness to compromise. We provide students with a roommate contract. This is not a binding contract but a tool to help students talk about some of the common challenges of roommate living (sleeping habits, study habits, visitors, etc.). If your student is having trouble working out conflict with their roommate on their own refer them to the RA for help. The RA will work with the students and help the student compromise. Remind your student that speaking disparagingly about roommates to other community members only fuels the situation and could make it impossible to actually solve the conflict or issue.
Encouraging Academic Success
Academics are different in college. The skills and tactics students used in high school may not lead to success in the college environment.
Tips to Share with your Student
1. Go to class. GTC has a strict attendance policy. Tell your student to think of going to class like showing up for work.
2. Encourage your student to work on their time management skills. For each unit of credit students should plan on studying 2-3 hours outside the classroom.
3. Encourage your student to get to know their professors and see them early in the semester for help. Professors have regularly scheduled office hours and want to see their students succeed. Encourage your student to get to know each of their professors, and to attend office hours if they have questions or concerns.