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Top 3 Questions from Parents of New College Students

We asked Billie Dunn, vice president of student affairs at Lake Erie College, what her top three most-asked questions are from parents of new college students. Here’s what she had to say:

Top 3 Questions Parents Ask:

1. How will I know if my kid is going to class?

You won’t! Although every institution has their own class attendance policies, it is the responsibility of the student to go to class. And regardless of what the student might think, attending class is the single most important thing they can do to be successful in college. Classes are hard—not always because the material is hard—but because the learning is so different. Students have to engage with material, rather than just memorizing, so they really need to go to class.

2. What do I do if my child is homesick at college?

Homesickness will happen more than just during their first year; going back to campus after long breaks can bring out those emotions, too. Students are continuing to learn how to adjust and adapt to their ever-changing lives as they are transitioning into adulthood and figuring it out. It takes time and experience. As parents, we know this because we have lived longer and have more experiences to pull from. The key is to support them, encourage them, validate them … but do not come pick them up. They need to figure it out, with support from home as well as campus resources. Campuses are filled with experts, such as residence life, counseling services, and campus ministry, who can support your student emotionally.

3. What if they have no friends in college?

Connecting with peers is so important, and this will be one of the experiences that is very difficult for most. Typically, students arrive on a college campus having just left a peer group that they had for most of their lives, so making friends is something students have to learn how to do again. It is not easy for most, especially for the current generation of college students, as getting students to have meaningful face-to-face conversation is difficult. Campuses, small and large, invest a lot of resources in this area by creating intentional environments and opportunities for students to engage with one another. Finding a peer group takes time, and it’s okay—even quite common—for those peer groups to shift.

Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, and mom of three teen boys. Read more about Cathie at

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