How Can I Help? - Common Issues in Adjusting to University
- If homesickness is making it difficult for your student to make a positive connection with Queen's, offer encouragement and focus on what is going well. You may be most likely to hear from him/her when they are upset. Try to call when he/she is active and engaged rather then feeling vulnerable (e.g. not just before bed).
- Sharing a room with anyone, let alone a stranger, is a new experience for many students. Conversations with the senior students who live in residence, called Dons, can help students learn to give way on small things, express one's concern on troublesome issues, and seek cooperation on solving key issues. For those living off-campus, regular house meetings are a positive way of identifying issues and working out solutions. Non-blaming statements such as "I think (this is happening), I feel (in response to the situation), I wish (a suggested solution)" often keep communication lines open between room-mates.
- Peer pressure is a challenge at any age, but separation from usual anchors and boundaries creates added pressure and confusion for many students. Encouraging your student to seek friends who share similar values around alcohol, drugs, sexual behaviour, gambling, and academic goals may help your student consider/reconsider the choices he/she is making.
- As your student explores new ideas and ways of doing things, the possibility of conflict between you arises. Arguing may cause him/her to be very selective in what he/she shares with you, or it may help both of you to clarify your values and opinions. In any case, you and your student may have different views. To reduce frustration, consider saying "I'll need to think more about this - let's talk another time".
- If your student lives away, when he/she returns home he/she may wish to spend time friends as well as with you. Both you and your student are defining new relationships within the family as he/she shifts focus from family to peers. This is another balancing act between established family patterns and the independence of the young adult. Try to make the most of your special time together, rather than feeling disappointed or neglected.