Helping Students Adjust to College While Supporting Their Personal and Psychological Growth
The Student Development & Counseling Center (SDCC) provides counseling services designed to assist students in developing ways to cope with the struggles that impact their personal, social, and academic lives. We help promote a caring community while emphasizing prevention, personal development, and wellness.
All Counseling Services Are Confidential
SDCC staff members will never confirm or deny a student’s participation in counseling or provide details of any discussions. Parents wishing to share their thoughts may speak with any counselor except their son or daughter’s therapist. Parental concerns will be communicated to the student’s therapist as appropriate.
How Parents Can Help
Start by being a good listener, and show an interest in your student’s studies and personal growth. Be encouraging but don't set unrealistic expectations; remember that your dream for them may not necessarily be their dream. Other helpful strategies:
- Have an open mind; your child is learning to be independent.
- Stay in touch, but don’t push.
- Make the most of visits home. Do things together.
- Send CARE packages. You may not get a thank-you every time, but mail will be appreciated.
- Encourage your child to get involved, make new friends and develop new interests—but recognize it is up to him or her to take the initiative.
- Celebrate successes, and remember that setbacks are to be expected; be supportive.
Consult with the SDCC When You Notice…
- Tearful calls home outnumber the others
- A significant change in weight or excessive fatigue and lack of motivation
- Marked changes in behavior such as substance abuse, isolation, sleep, academic, talk of hopelessness
- Comments that indicate your child is thinking of hurting him or herself and possibly considering suicide
Recognizing Common Situations
While every student is unique, there are situations common to many. Understanding what these are may help you to effectively communicate with your child.
Freshman year. College is a time of great transitions. Students have to be more independent in all areas—they aren't reminded of deadlines or the need to study. They need to make new friends and get used to their new environment and expectations. Being supportive and reinforcing that it takes time to feel settled can help.
Seasonal workloads. Workload and stress levels will vary throughout the academic year. Mid-term exams and finals are peak times for stress. You can help by providing a calm, supportive, and understanding place for your student to vent.
Balancing study and social life. Some parents feel anxious that their daughter or son is not working hard enough. While academics are a priority, students also need to relax and enjoy themselves to prevent burnout.
Returning home. WPI students become accustomed to living independently while here. Often, however, the expectation to live by the family rules may have to be revisited when they return home. Differing viewpoints can lead to friction, so it’s important to listen to your child and treat his or her opinions with respect.