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First Year Experience Parent Connection

Welcome to the Parent Connection!  The transition from high school to a university is exciting and also challenging.  Colleges and Universities work very hard to provide resources to help incoming students better adjust.  Huston-Tillotson is thrilled that your student is joining us for the 2011-2012 school year.  As an extension of your student, we’d also like to welcome you to the Huston-Tillotson family as well.  We understand that although you are not leaving for college, this time is equally difficult and challenging for you.  Here are a few tips to help you support your student from a distance:

Empowering Your Student

Supporting Your College Student

As your student takes on adult responsibilities, your role will change, but your student still needs you. Students need you to support their growth, development, and independence, and to be a stable force in their ever-changing world. On occasion, they even need your advice—but they may or may not ask for it.

Tips for Supporting Your Student

Stay Connected
Support your student by staying connected. Communicate via phone, e-mail, IM, cell phones, and ‘snail’ mail. Students love to get real mail, especially care packages. Expect that your student will not respond to all of your contacts, but know that he or she appreciates hearing from you. Be sure to visit, but not too often. Parents and Family Weekend is an excellent way to reconnect with your student.

Give your student the opportunity to share feelings and ideas with you. He or she is experiencing new viewpoints and perspectives that may challenge prior belief systems. Allow your student to explore ideas without being judgmental. Understand that changes in viewpoints, behavior, dress, eating and sleeping habits, and relationships with parents are all to be expected during the college years. However, if you suspect that some of these changes may be signs of bigger problems (alcohol or drug abuse, academic problems, etc.), refer your student to the Counseling and Consultation Center. Trust your instincts. Your student may need you to refer him or her to the appropriate resources for help.

Continue to Have Difficult Conversations
As a parent of a college student, you no longer have the same control that you once had. However, you do still have a tremendous influence on your son or daughter’s behavior. In college, your son or daughter will have to make their own decisions about what time to get up in the morning, when to study, when to exercise, which organizations to participate in, whether or not to eat healthily, whether or not to drink alcohol, how much alcohol to drink if any, and whether or not to engage in sexual relationships. While you cannot force your student to behave exactly as you would want them to, parents can share their values and beliefs with their students on these topics. Studies show that parents influence their child’s behavior regarding drugs, alcohol, and risky sexual behavior even after their child leaves for college. Provide your student with the facts on these issues, and empower them to distinguish between good and bad decisions when it comes to their behavior, health, and safety. Create an atmosphere of open communication, and your student will not only appreciate that you respect him or her as an adult, but he or she will also be more likely to turn to you for guidance.
(Source: Brigham Young University (2008, February 11). “Sex, Drugs and Alcohol: Parents Still Influence College Kids’ Risky Behavior, Study Shows.” ScienceDaily. Read the news release.)

Ask Questions—But Not Too Many
Most first-year college students desire the security of knowing that someone from home is still interested in them. Parental curiosity can be alienating or supportive depending on the attitudes of the persons involved. Honest inquiries and other “between friends” communication and discussion will do much to further the parent-student relationship.

Expect Change
Your student will change. College and the experiences associated with it can effect changes in social, vocational, and personal behavior and choices. It’s natural, inevitable, and it can be inspiring. Often though, it’s a pain in the neck. You can’t stop change, you may never understand it, but it is within your power (and to you and your student’s advantage) to accept it. Remember that your son or daughter will be basically the same person that you sent away to school.

Do Not Tell Your Student That “These Are the Best Years of Your Life”
The first year of college can be full of indecision, insecurities, disappointments, and most of all, mistakes. It’s also full of discovery, inspiration,good times, and exciting people. It may take a while for students to realize that their Hollywood-created images of what college all about are wrong. Hollywood doesn’t show that college is about being scared, confused, overwhelmed, and making mistakes. Students may feel these things and worry that they are not ‘normal’ because what they’re feeling is in contrast to what they’ve been led to believe while growing up. Parents can help by understanding that the highs and lows of college life are a critical part of your son or daughter’s development, and by providing the support and encouragement to help him or her understand this as well.

Trust Your Student
College is also a time for students to discover who they are. Finding oneself is a difficult enough process without feeling that the people whose opinions you respect most are second-guessing your own second-guessing.

Artcle from


Tips for Parents:

Recognize this is a time of ambivalence for all parents.

The excitement and joy about opportunities awaiting your child are mixed with the waves of nostalgia and a sense of loss. Talk with other parents who are going through the same thing.

Recognize your child’s conflicting emotions.

Your child, like you, is being pulled between past, present and future … one day exclaiming “leave me alone; I’m 18 years old. I’m independent” and the next complaining “you’re never around when I need you.” Your child’s ups and downs are a sign of the ambivalence of this transitional time.

Take comfort in the knowledge that part of you is going with your child.

The foundation you have provided over the past 18 years will accompany your child across the miles and throughout the years.

Don’t tell your child “These are the best years of your life.”

No one is happy all the time between the ages of 18 and 22, and when a student is homesick or overtired from studying all night, it’s not reassuring to have parents imply that this is as good as it gets!

Enjoy this time of celebration.

Try not to focus so much on the upcoming departure that you might miss the full impact of the senior year festivities and the joy of summer days ahead.

The summer before

Be prepared to see less of your child this summer.

The closer it gets to departure time, the less you can expect to see of your child. He will likely be spending every waking hour with friends. Allow them this special time together.

Make a financial plan and discuss expectations with your child.

Develop a tentative budget and be clear about who will pay for what. For example, some parents pay for books and supplies, while their child is responsible for incidental expenses such as snacks, movies, and CDs. Other students are responsible for earning a percentage of their tuition. Teach your child about responsible use of credit and debit cards.

Discuss academic goals and expectation ahead of time.

Remember, many freshmen do not do as well academically first semester as they did in high school, and many change their minds about their proposed course of study. Ask them what they hope to accomplish academically during their first year. It is important for them to take ownership of their education. Grades are not the only indication of learning.

Communication: Keeping in touch

Talk to your child about how you’ll keep in touch.

Do you want a planned time to talk or do you want to be more spontaneous? A cell phone can be a wonderful way to keep in touch, or it can be, as one student described, an “electronic leash.” Encourage your child to use it with discretion and not just to fill in the spaces. E-mail and instant messaging are also wonderful ways to keep in touch. Just don’t count on a reply to every message.

Be a coach rather than trying to solve your child’s problems yourself.

You’re likely to hear more than your share of problems. College students usually call their parents for reassurance when things aren’t going well, and call their friends with the latest exciting news. When you get those late night phone calls, and you will, you can encourage your child to use the appropriate campus resources — to go to the health service or career center, to talk to an advisor, dean, a counselor or tutor. Read resource information sent to you by the college so you can be an informed coach for your child.

Be an anchor.

Keep your child informed about changes at home. College students want their parents to accept all the changes they are making but want everything at home to stay the same. So it’s important to keep them informed about changes at home, whether it’s moving a younger sibling into their room, or, on a more serious note, about illness in the family or the death of a pet. They need this from you in order to feel secure and maintain a sense of trust.

Acknowledge that college today is different.

Although century-old buildings look untouched by time, college life today is very different from the campus scene 25 or 30 years ago. For those of you who went to college, think twice before beginning a sentence with “When I was in college…”

Ask about courses rather than focusing on grades.

Invite your child to share with you the discovery of new ideas, academic interests and intellectual passions.

Send care packages.

Early in the year, sharing popcorn or chocolate chip cookies is a wonderful way for a student to meet floor mates. Photographs are personal reminders of home. Holiday decorations, baskets of treats at exam time, and even everyday necessities like shampoo and quarters for the washing machine are reminders that say, “I’m thinking of you.”

When students come back home

Renegotiate expectations.

Your child has been making decisions on how she will spend her time for many months. You, however, may have strong feelings of your own when she comes in late at night, sleeps late in the morning or arrives late for dinner. Most students respond well if parents treat them with respect. For example, a parent might say, “I know you’re used to being out until all hours of the night at school, but I can’t sleep when I wake up at 2 in the morning and you’re not here. Let’s talk about how we’re going to handle this so that we’ll both feel good about it.” It takes flexibility and communication to find a common ground.

Understand that the college years are a time for exploration.

Your son or daughter may come home with a new look; someone else’s clothes; or new politics, philosophies, or eating habits. Most of these changes are not permanent. Take a step back, have a sense of humor, and pick your battles.

Don’t overschedule.

Tell your child ahead of time about family plans, especially over the holidays, so that he or she can make plans accordingly.

Throughout the college years

Expect change.

Students will change the way they think and way they look. Many will change their majors and career goals. They need you to stick with them, have patience when they are uncertain and support them as they chart the course of their own lives.

College students care more about what you think than they are likely to let you know.

They quote you, talk about you and look to you for encouragement. As they journey toward adulthood and independence, sometimes they want your advice and sometimes they just want you to listen. And as one of them put it, “We just won’t tell you which time is which.”

Welcome to the delights and dilemmas of being a parent of a college student.

Early in the year, sharing popcorn or chocolate chip cookies is a wonderful way for a student to meet floor mates. Photographs are personal reminders of home. Holiday decorations, baskets of treats at exam time, and even everyday necessities like shampoo and quarters for the washing machine are reminders that say, “I’m thinking of you.”

Article By Karen Levin Coburn , Madge Lawrence Treeger

Other useful information:

Hotels near Huston-Tillotson University:

 1. Sheraton Austin at the Capitol .8 miles from HT

2. Hilton Garden Inn downtown .8 miles from HT

3. Super 8 Hotel downtown .8 miles from HT

4. Hilton Hotel Austin 1 mile from HT

5. Doubletree Hotel University of Texas Austin 1 mile from HT

6. Omni Hotel Austin 1.1 miles from HT

7. La Quinta Inn Capitol Austin 1.1 miles from HT

8. Hyatt Regency Hotel Austin 1.5 miles from HT

9. Embassy Suites downtown & Town Lake 1.5 miles from  HT

Things to Do in Austin:

Austin Bats

Austin Duck Tours

Austin Ghost Tours

Austin Museum of Art

Austin Zoo

Barton Springs Pool

Bob Bullock State History Museum

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

George Washington Carver Museum

Harry Ransom Center

Lady Bird Lake

Mexic-Arte Museum

Mount Bonnell

Peter Pan Mini Golf

Texas State Capitol

Texas State Cemetary

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

Zilker Botanical Gardens

6th Street

Recommendations for Dining:

Hoover’s Cooking

Mijo’s Tex-Mex & Cantina

The Salt Lick

Austin Food Trailers