Do’s and Don’ts: Parents at College Orientation

As a parent, there are some do's and don'ts at college orientation.

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College orientation is usually a surreal experience for both students and their parent(s). While you’re trying to situate your mind on how the next four years will play out on this campus, you’re also trying to process the ton of information tour guides are saying. As a parent, understand that your kid may be taken aback a bit during college orientation and trying to digest everything. Allow them to do that by being attentive, supportive, and just being there for the ride. You have to be their eyes and ears because more than likely their mind is all over the place.

Don’t: Bombard Staff with Questions

With all of your concerns, sometimes dialogue may get lengthy and specific to your student’s situation. Be cautious of this because it takes away from the scheduled program and from others’ experiences. Ask your tour guide to direct you to someone who can answer some of your more specific concerns. Bring a notepad to write down additional questions so you won’t forget them and also jot down names of departments and staff that may be mentioned throughout your conversations.

It’s key to remember that not everyone you encounter will be the point person for the information you seek.

Do: Ask the Right Questions to the Right People

If there ever comes a time when you are itching to fill in the blank space in your mind about a particular topic, by all means, speak up. If you know your kid is probably wondering about something, yes, find out for them. This is the time to do so. Do not leave campus without having your concerns addressed. Student leaders and university staff have prepared themselves for orientation weeks in advance and are well prepared to answer your questions.

There will be a portion of orientation when students depart from their parents. This time will be essential for both of you.

Don’t: Spend too Much Time in Gift Shopping

Yes, buy college gear to show your pride and support for whichever school your kid chose. But there will be a million more opportunities to stock up on shirts and visors. You will likely leave with a bundle of free gear. Spend more of your time enjoying the experience of orientation, which encompasses more than just foam fingers and college bumper stickers.

Do: Get Familiar with the School

Explore the campus and check out all the resources the school has to offer. Staff is always eager to relay information to parents because students can overlook things. Absorb the campus for your kid, that way you will have the information as a reminder once orientation is over and things have taken off in your kid’s academic journey.

The most important part about orientation is realizing your kid’s new independence.

Don’t: Be Over-Involved

Resist the urge to be too hands-on. Whenever you feel your parental instincts kick in, don’t ignore them, but don’t let them lead. Give your kid the opportunity to explore their new freedom of decision making.

Do: Allow them Ownership of their Experience

This marks a new time for the both of you because your kid finally gets to shape their own journey and all you have to do is sit back in autopilot. It’ll take some getting used to but it will be well worth it in the long run. By all means, offer support and advice but be mindful that this is a pivotal time for students to have room to grow.

Orientation is not only orientation for the student, but orientation for you as well. For the last 18 years or so you’ve been the coach, now it’s time to be the cheerleader.

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