Information for Parents
Students new to UTPA are likely to have many adjustments to make during their first year in college. Some of the transitional problems college students may encounter include:
- difficulty making new friends
- perception that college is too difficult
- lacking a sense of belonging
- competition with others
- communication problems with the professor
- loss and grieving
- financial worries
- working while attending classes
These adjustment/transition issues are normal, and often the student will resolve these issues within a few weeks on his/her own. One way to facilitate the adjustment process is to encourage your student to make connections on campus and in the community. If your student continues to have adjustment concerns a month or so into the semester, suggest s/he come talk to a counselor for help.
Signs that may indicate your son or daughter may have difficulty adjusting include, but are not limited to, lowered interest or pleasure in activities that once gave her/him joy, lower energy level, significant weight loss or gain, change in sleep patterns, and tearfulness/irritability nearly every day. Also, restlessness or feeling "on edge", being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, difficulty falling asleep or restless sleep. And, sudden decline in work or grades, unusual borrowing of money or stealing, secretive behavior in regard to actions and possessions, and a decline in personal appearance and hygiene.
If you think your student may be in need of mental health counseling to address these or other issues, encourage him or her to come to Counseling and Psychological Services to talk with a staff therapist.
It is important for you to know that because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and ethical and professional standards, Counseling and Psychological Services cannot disclose to parents or anyone else whether the student has been to the center. We encourage parents to talk openly to students about how they are doing. Some guidelines for talking to your student the staff therapists have found helpful for parents include:
- Ask your student how s/he is adjusting to college life (i.e., academically, socially, emotionally), and how s/he likes his/her classes. You might say "Tell me about your favorite class" instead of asking a yes or no question to find out how your student is doing.
- Help your student set realistic goals and expectations for college work. If working is a necessity, your student might consider taking fewer classes, otherwise there might be inadequate time for study.
- Students who are not used to managing money can find themselves in financial trouble before they know it. Credit cards can be a big problem, as can neglecting to pay bills on time. Help your student understand that s/he can ruin his/her credit rating and get into debt quickly if s/he does not take care of finances.
- Give your son or daughter the freedom to succeed or fail, and let him/her take responsibility for her/his own education.
It can be both exciting and scary to realize that your influence as Parent is moving to a different level. Your student will have much more autonomy in decision making, which means that some experimentation with different behaviors is normal. Hopefully your student will make wise choices that will help him/her to have a successful college career. Please remember that the staff of Counseling and Psychological Services is available to help your student with difficulties that may arise.