Support for Families

College can be overwhelming for first-generation students, but it can also be stressful for the families of students. As a parent, guardian, or family member of a first-generation student, you may find yourself with a lot of questions. It is important to remember that you are allowed to have questions and ask for help too. 

Tips for Families

Expect change.
Students learn and grow a lot in college, which can be difficult for both of you. It is important that you continue to support them through this transitional period and be understanding of their experiences. 

Remember this is hard for them, too.
Sending your student off to college can be daunting, frustrating, and sad. It is important to know that it is ok to experience these emotions and that your student is likely experiencing a mix of emotions too. 

Remind them that you're proud of them and that they belong here.
Your student may have trouble adjusting to being away from home and fitting into a college campus. Remind them that it takes time, but it will be a good experience and that you are proud of them for taking this step. Tell them they deserve to be here and they belong.

Be supportive of your student.
Support your student in what they are doing and encourage them as they go through this experience. There may be rough patches where they want to give up, but instead, help them through that difficult time and help get them back on track for graduation. They need you to believe in them too. 

Talk to your student about their experience.
It can be intimidating to go through this college process with your student and not understand some of the information, but that is ok. It is better for you to just ask how they are doing and try to learn with them rather than ignore the process and let them do it alone. 

Acknowledge that college is hard.
The media often portrays college as a relaxed or irresponsible environment when in reality, college is very challenging for a variety of reasons. Students spend large amounts of time on academics, getting involved, and forming connections. It is important for families to acknowledge how draining and busy college can be and do whatever they can to reduce pressure from home. 

Understand the value of getting involved outside of the classroom.
Education is the main purpose of college, but there is much more to the college experience. In fact, it is shown that students' involvement outside of the classroom can enhance the learning that takes place in the classroom. These experiences can also better prepare students for their future career and make them more appealing to employers.

Be patient with your student. 
This is a learning process for both of you. Your student will be spending a lot of time adjusting to college, so they may not have as much time for family commitments as they used to. They have a lot of new responsibilities and will be focusing more on those. Assure them that you understand and that it is ok. 

Encourage your student to seek out resources and get involved.
CSB/SJU offer many different resources, but many of them require some intentional outreach by students. Students are more likely to seek out resources and get involved in important opportunities if they have encouragement from their family. 

Don't let them feel guilty.
First-generation students often feel pressure to succeed so they can create a better life for their family while also feeling guilty for leaving home. Remind them that you support them and understand the value of a college education. Tell them that they don't have to get all A's or constantly study to make you proud.

You can reach out for help too.
This experience can be challenging for families as well as students. If you have a question or want more information, feel free to reach out and get assistance.