Advice for Parents During the College Transition

The transition to college is difficult for not only students, but parents, too. That is why we’ve put together a resource guide with advice for parents. Hear from some of the Champlain College staff who support your student and help them make the most of this new experience.

We asked a group of student support staff two questions related to advice for parents:

  • What general advice would you give to parents who are dropping their student off at college?
  • What is a Champlain-specific piece of advice you would give to parents who are dropping their student off in Burlington?

Champlain staff are full of good advice, and are always eager to share that insight with students and families in order to ease the transition to college. Meet our experts below!

A group of four students eat lunch on the green and smile at the camera.
New students enjoy lunch together during the first day of Orientation 2022. Photos by Karen Pike.

Jared Cadrette (he/him), Director of Student Engagement

General advice for parents: “Allow for your student to flourish by letting them explore their own journey. Encourage them to take part in everything and try new things.”

Champlain-specific advice for parents: “Explore everything Burlington (and beyond) has to offer. The bus system is great (and free to students) and will bring you as far down as Montpelier and north to St. Albans!”

Bonus advice for parents: “Check out The View! If your student says there is nothing to do, encourage them to look at this resource.”

Two Office of Diversity & Inclusion staff members sit at a table smiling while talking to parents.
Champlain College Office of Diversity & Inclusion staff welcome new students during the first day of Orientation 2022 and share information about the resources available.

Monica Fung-Janardhan (she/her), Associate Director, Office of Diversity & Inclusion

General advice: “Encourage your student to get involved and find their home away from home. While academics are important, experiences outside of the classroom are equally as important. These experiences may include joining a club, participating in a campus event, finding an internship, or networking with staff members on campus. Explore all of what college has to offer and find your niche. The college experience is what you make of it.”

Champlain-specific advice: “Trust the college process and know that Champlain has the necessary resources to support your student. Champlain College values diversity, equity, and inclusion and thus, it provides and offers a variety of offices and departments that are readily available to support the many identities your student may hold and to help with their college development and education. Specifically, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion provides one-on-one support through intentional conversations and campus-wide support through educational opportunities. These opportunities consist of programs and events that promote curricular and social success. Programs and events include Education Empowerment, the CARE Program, film screenings, book clubs, educational luncheons, and more. Overall, the college assists in guiding student success while also promoting individual exploration and discovery.”

Skip Harris (he/him), Director of Champlain College Counseling Center

General advice: “Encourage your student to get involved! It’s important to understand that we all feel a bit awkward and challenged when trying something new. We might feel a bit nervous and possibly anxious, but students need to understand that the person sitting next to them at Orientation is feeling the same way. I would also make sure your student understands the resources on campus. Sometimes the hardest thing is asking for help, but I would encourage your student to ask for help from a peer, academic coach, faculty advisor, a clinician, etc. There are many people on campus who are here to help but we can’t help if we don’t know if someone needs something.”

Champlain-specific advice: “Go to the Activities Fair and sign up for as many clubs that interest you. This is a very organic way to develop friendships and create community.”

Erika Lea (she/her), Coordinator of First Year Transitions & Wellbeing Initiatives

General advice: “Change is hard, even when that change is a very great thing. Some of the most wonderful milestones in life also come with a great deal of anxiety — birth! marriage! a new home! — because there is so much unknown. Anxiety feeds on uncertainty. Transitioning to college is a wonderful, significant achievement and so much is still unwritten. It is normal for everyone involved to experience highs, lows, and everything in between. Anticipating this roller coaster of emotions can help everyone get through the transition of drop-off.”

Champlain-specific advice: “Talk to your student about the next time you expect to communicate. You will want to know how they are doing, yet communicating too early and too much can be an obstacle to their transitioning smoothly.”

Bonus advice: “‘The W-Curve and The First Year of College’ is something we will be covering in the first few workshops of Champ 101, and it’s a good thing for parents to be aware of as well. While the W-Curve isn’t written in stone, and each student goes through their transition to college at their own pace and in their own way depending on a variety of factors, the takeaway is that good days and hard days are to be expected.”

A student throws a NERF basketball into a net on the wall.
All moved in? Time to test your luck with some NERF basketball!

Heidi Lebrun (she/her), Assistant Director of Engagement and Stewardship

General advice: “Keep the conversation light on the day of drop off. Spend time prior to drop off discussing how the day will go. Ask your student what they would like: Do they want help making their bed or setting up the room? It seems silly to plan ahead, but it’s not uncommon for students to feel completely overwhelmed on move-in day. This will hopefully help alleviate some stress. Say all the things you want to say before the day of. It’s hard to think in the moment.

When it is time to leave, keep it quick. Focus on the the next time you will see each other— let them know you will see them at Champlain Weekend in just a few weeks. Write a note encouraging them and telling them how proud you are and leave it with them. Tell them not to open it until later. It will be nice for them to have some words of encouragement after you leave.”

Champlain-specific advice: “Encourage your student to make an effort to meet people. Champlain has a number of clubs and activities — it’s a good way to meet people. The faculty and staff really care and want your student to succeed — I’m not just saying this as a staff member — I’m a Champlain parent, too!”

Bonus advice: “Stay connected! Join the Parent and Family Facebook Group and sign up for the Family Newsletter by emailing parentrelations@champlain.edu.”

Dr. Kimberly Quinn wears a blue wizard hat and waves to a crowd of people.
Dr. Kimberly Quinn is Champlain’s very own Wellbeing Wizard.

Dr. Kimberly Quinn (she/her), Wellbeing & Success Coach and Psychology Professor

General advice: “Believe in your young adult that they will make good choices, knowing that there will be speed bumps along the way, and reminding yourselves that there is no growth without challenge. There is no such thing as failure, only people producing results that may move them in a different direction. One phone call per week is enough and tell them that you love them before you hang up.”

Champlain-specific advice: “Champlain is a wonderfully supportive and inclusive community, attracting students, faculty, and staff who dance to our own beat. Encourage your young adult to put themselves out there and get involved, as they will be embraced. This is the best way to maximize their college experience.”

Bonus advice: “Come to the Defense Against the Dark Arts club on Thursdays at 5:30 PM (see calendar on The View for details). It is a great way to meet your fellow Champlainers and learn about ways to live you best college life!”

Susan Waryck (she/her), Dean of Students

General advice: “When your student calls home with an urgent problem, listen to your student and provide support, but don’t automatically jump into ‘fix it’ mode. Many times, students will call their parents first to complain about what seems to be an urgent problem (it’s too hot in their room; they are too tired from all of the Orientation activities; their roommate is eating all of their snacks, etc.). After they’ve vented to a parent, students often feel better and have forgotten about it. Meanwhile, the parent is at home thinking the student is having a troubling experience, and they are making phone calls to campus to solve the issue that the student is now no longer worried about. Give your student time to sort things out. Give them some resources/suggestions about how to handle the problem, but let them handle the problem themselves.”

Champlain-specific advice: “Encourage your student to get out of their room! They may not know anyone yet, but if they are encouraged to attend Orientation sessions, they’ll have some immediate friends. Then, encourage them to invite a friend to walk down to Church Street, to check out the waterfront, to go watch the sunset, etc. This is such a walkable town. Students should go experience things on the evenings and weekends and not feel so confined to campus.”

Bonus advice: “I would encourage parents to understand the academic calendar that students are following. Know when mid-term grades are available, and specifically ask your student about their grades. If your student didn’t do well in a class, ask them what their plan is to do better for the second semester. Know when breaks happen (Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Spring Break) and, if your student is living on campus, discuss when the residence halls close and make plans accordingly.

I would encourage parents to know when registration for classes happens. Students will need to meet with various folks to get registered for spring classes. Ask your student if they are on track for getting registered. Encourage your student to ask questions of their Champ 101 facilitating instructor and mentor. This is what they are there for! If your student doesn’t know where to go to ask a question, they can always start with their Champ 101 team.”

Find more advice for parents here and student support information here.

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