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Advice for Families and Parents

Cabrini regularly provides information and materials for families and parents.

Coping with the Stranger at Your Thanksgiving Table

When your first-year college student comes home for Thanksgiving, you may encounter a challenging transition for both you—as a family member or parent—and your student.

If your student has not spent much time at home since going away to college, you may see that he or she has developed new habits and is expressing different opinions.

Here are simple guidelines for all family members to enjoy Thanksgiving break.

1. Encourage an adult-to-adult relationship.

At college, your student is growing, forming new opinions, challenging ideas, and navigating who he or she wants to be.

When you come off as authoritative, you may push away your student. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your student. By supporting this transition, you can begin to develop a mature and mutually fulfilling relationship with him or her.

2. Be clear about your expectations.

Your student may arrive home expecting to live as he or she does at college. However, your house rules are still in effect, and it will help to clearly communicate your expectations to your student.

3. Be flexible.

Try to remember that your student is now accustomed to living his or her own way at college, and picking up a pair of shoes or making the bed daily may not be on the list of priorities.

Being flexible with little lifestyle changes will help manage potentially larger issues that arise during the break.

4. Understand that this may be a difficult time for your student.

Returning home for the first time is often disorienting for students because they are trying to merge two worlds; one is their now-daily life at college, and one is with their family and high school friends.

Understand that this phase is temporary, and encourage your student to take time adjusting to home life again.

Support Your Student as Final Exam Week Approaches

As your student’s first semester comes to an end, he or she will need to manage: final examinations and projects, term papers, and special activities.

While all college students need to find ways to handle the heightened level of work, first-year students may find this an especially challenging experience.

A little bit of stress can help motivate students to study, but too much stress can be harmful. Will your student be proactive and prepared, or procrastinate and panic?

Along with talented and committed Cabrini faculty and staff members, you can help your student use his or her strengths to achieve success!

Here are some tips you can share with your student as we approach finals week.
Suggest that your student:

  1. Start preparing now.

    It’s never too early to plan for finals, set schedules for studying, organize notes and other materials, talk with faculty about any special concerns. They may suggest on-campus resources to help with tutoring and academic counseling (time management, study skills, and other academic concerns).

  2. Create and maintain a healthy routine.
    Some of the stress of finals is that a student’s normal schedule is interrupted.

    Suggest that your student work to maintain a healthy pattern of eating, sleeping, exercising, and relaxing.

  3. Avoid “catastrophizing.”
    Help your student turn the negative self-talk into positive, motivating reminders like: “I can prepare well and I am able to complete this test.”

    Ask your student to remember another challenging situation in which a positive outcome occurred.

  4. Speak with their faculty advisor.
    In addition to working one-on-one with faculty members teaching specific courses, your student has a faculty advisor.

    In the first semester of the first year, advisors are teaching your student COL 101 College Success Seminar. These advisors are already a part of your student’s life and are ready to address the concerns your student may have.

  5. Establish a personal reward system for studying.

    In addition to taking small breaks when studying to refresh and revive, building in rewards—going to a movie, enjoying an ice cream sundae, bowling—for meeting study goals can be energizing.

Sending your student supportive messages like “You can do it, we believe in you!” in emails, texts, phone conversations, and cards can be uplifting and can help your student remember how many people are rooting for them.

In the rare case in which you sense your student is becoming overwhelmed, have your student contact the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) at 610.902.8561.

A Guide for Families and Parents to Help Manage Roommate Conflicts

If your student is having a difficult transition to sharing a room with another person, commiserate with your student, but remember you are only getting one side of the story.

Roommate problems are common, because sharing space with a new person is hard.

Get a clear understanding of the issue. Many students call home to vent, making the problems seem bigger than they are to hide what is bothering them.

As much as you want to help, try to let your student work it out without assistance.

Here are some tips you can use to help them sort out the situation:

  • Have they talked?
    Has your student talked to the roommate about the issue? Has your student talked to the roommate about how he or she feels?

    “Bad” roommates might not realize that they are driving other people nuts. Avoiding conflict only leads to more conflict.

  • What is really the issue?
    Students tend to blame things on the roommate when they are having a difficult time in their classes, meeting friends, or finding space to study.

    It is important to help your student pinpoint what is at the heart of the matter.

  • They are not alone.
    The Resident Assistant (RA) is there to listen, to be a friend, and has been trained to handle all sorts of roommate conflicts. They will make sure that both roommates are heard and listened to.

    Ask your student if they have gone to the RA for help.

    If the situation is too severe for the RA, the RA will make a referral to Residence Life staff, who then will meet with each student and make a determination about what action to take in the matter.

It hurts you to know your student is struggling, but roommate conflicts, just like arguments with loved ones, take time to heal.

After any action has been taken, Residence Life will follow up with the roommates to make sure that they are doing better or will take additional action to resolve any further issues.

Cabrini will do everything possible to help your student have a successful year.

If you have questions or concerns, contact the Office of Residence Life (610.902.8410, reslife@cabrini.edu)

Adapted from Kent State and Point Park University

Talking to Your Student About Making Alternative Academic Plans

Generally, students take 15–16 credits each fall and spring semester to achieve the goal of graduating in four years. Sometimes, students veer off this track.

This can happen if students withdraw from a course, change their major, struggle with a heavy academic load, or many other reasons.

Whatever the reason, there are several ways to get back on track. When you’re discussing ideas with your students, encourage them to:

  • Meet with their academic advisor
    Your student’s academic advisor is the best source for information on strategies to improve grades and can help your student adjust his or her academic schedule.

    Advisors also keep record of students’ transcripts, warning notices, academic progress reports, etc.

  • Extend their education by a semester or more
    Cabrini recognizes that this does have financial implications, but for a student just needs to tackle his or her academic program at a slower pace or make up missed semesters to be successful, this is often the best option.

  • Take additional courses during the regular semester
    Full-time students can take up to 18 credits in a regular semester without any additional charges/fees.

    Students with strong academic records may be eligible to take up to 21 credits per semester, with approval of their advisor and the Registrar’s Office.

  • Look into Winterim or Summer classes at Cabrini
    Cabrini offers many core courses and a few major courses during these terms.

  • Be proactive and seek academic support
    This is especially true for classes they know will be a struggle.

    The Center for Student Success and Disability Resource Center offer tutoring and assistance to all students free of charge.

  • Add in summer internships or co-op experiences
    Students can earn credit and practical experience in their desired field.
    For more information, visit www.cabrini.edu/career.

  • Plan academic schedules creatively!
    Students who haven’t declared a major yet could add in a class or two that counts towards a potential major.

    This not only helps them better determine if the major is right for them, but keeps them from getting behind academically if they do select that major.

  • Set realistic goals
    The best way to ensure academic success is for students to recognize their academic strengths and weaknesses and take them into account when developing a class schedule.

    Cabrini has academic counselors available to assess students and discuss these concerns.