Obviously students and their relationships with their families vary. Some need “reminding” and “probing” while others are self-reliant; some will eagerly volunteer information while others will keep things to themselves. The best thing that a parent or other family member can do is to be open and supportive, so that your student will feel comfortable coming to you with questions and be willing to admit if they are having difficulty or need help.
We have listed questions below that represent areas that might be helpful for parents and students to discuss.
Questions related to progress in courses
- Are you attending class regularly?
- After the student has attended a week of classes ask: “How do you like your classes? Does the amount of work seem manageable? Does the instructor’s teaching style seem to match the student’s learning style?
- Do you know when all your assignments are due and when your tests are? Have you written them in your planner?
- Do you understand the grading system in the course?
- Are you keeping up with your reading and reviewing the lecture notes?
- Have you considered forming a study group? Do you think you need tutoring?
- Around the 10th week of class ask freshmen if they have received mid term grade reports.
Questions related to their major
Parents can be great guides for students in choosing a major. Most students indicate that their parents are an important influence in their decision. However, it is really important to make sure that the student doesn’t feel pressured or unduly influenced---either by your suggestions or by your negative opinions of certain jobs (including your own).
If the student has a declared major, ask:
- Have you gone over your degree audit with your adviser so you are sure you understand he requirements?
- Periodically ask the student if he/she is still interested in that major. Note: It is much better to admit early on that you are undecided than to continue in a major that you don’t want.
- As the student progresses into their sophomore year, ask if the student has considered doing an internship.
- Have you begun to do informational interviewing in related occupations? Have you looked at Blugold Career Network?
- Have you joined a student organization related to the major?
- Have you talked with your adviser about careers or grad schools?
If the student is undeclared, ask:
- Have you met with your undeclared adviser to discuss a strategy for deciding on a major?
- Have you been to the Career Discovery Center in Career Services?
- Point out the on-line resources available to them.
- The “Career Poll” which has the student ask friends and family what they think the student should major in is a great way to start a conversation.