6 Ways Parents Can Help College Freshmen Without Helicoptering

I have been working on and off as an adjunct Communications and Public Speaking instructor since 2007. I have taught both online and in-person courses.

Every semester, I experience similar issues from freshman students and although there is no guide for parenting young adults in college, I often wish I could write a letter to parents and give advice. I took this opportunity to do just that.

There are six things that parents can do to help their young adults succeed their freshmen year.

Here’s my guide for parents in explaining how they can help their teens succeed in college. (Shutterstock Olena Yakobchuk)

6 ways parents can help their young adults succeed in college

1. Students must be organized

First, students must be organized. They need reminders on their phones, calendars, refrigerator pin-ups, whatever works to remind them of the things they need to do and places they need to be. I often experience students giving me the “I forgot to do it” excuse for assignments due.

Important assignments such as tests, speaking events, attending events, can make or break your young adult’s chances of passing a course Although we want students to be responsible and it would be nice if they just followed the syllabus, it is unlikely this is enough (especially for freshmen students).

They need organizational tools to remind them ahead of time to work on assignments and get them complete before due dates. Just think how helpful these same tools will be as they enter the workforce. Help your young adult become organized, deadlines are everything!

2. Reading is still a vital part of learning

Although there are so many ways students can dodge reading the material these days, professors can still tell when online book reviews or cliff notes are being used. Reading is becoming less of a norm in our society for many households. Life can be busy and get in the way of things we wish we could have encouraged our children more often to do.

It is my advice to encourage children of all ages to read. Reading magazines, articles, books, news sources, and most importantly, instructions, is a must for college freshmen. 

3. Learn what APA style writing is

I have noticed that many college students are completely unaware of APA writing when entering their first year of college. This is unbelievable to me considering the assignments most professors require to be in APA format.

Parents can help by acquiring APA handbooks and encouraging the study of these books prior to starting school. It is important for students to know how to cite and reference in APA style.

4. Read the syllabus

At least ten times each semester I have to tell students to “read the syllabus.” I don’t think it is their fault, I just think the syllabus is not promoted enough as a go-to for all courses. Everything is in the syllabus from the schedule to the items needed for the class. Expectations, grading information, and important items specific to the course are in the syllabus.

It used to be common for professors to print a 10–15-page syllabus for students; however, times have changed and now they are often only available online. That doesn’t make them any less important. Parents can help by encouraging their children to access and read the syllabus- all of it! 

5. Take public speaking

I encounter more and more students who have higher than normal anxiety about public speaking. Public speaking courses are a requirement for almost any degree. For those programs that do not require it, there is still a huge change your child will be presenting sometime during the course. I have had to fail many students through the years for just skipping out on speech days, some even semester after semester.

Although I understand and sympathize with the anxiety they may have from speaking or presenting, it is a major skill employers seek and a requirement for many careers. Public speaking is a skill. It is something that develops with practice and the more practice you get, the more comfortable you are presenting.

Parents can help their student by finding events in high school where their teen can get practice. I suggest starting with church, scholastic events, clubs, etc. The goal is just to get your child comfortable getting up and speaking in front of a crowd, even if it is just on Zoom or Teams.

7. It does not help for parents to be over-involved with their teen’s first year in college

It does, however, help for parents to be involved. College is a huge transition for young adults. It can be overwhelming for anyone, but especially young adults. They don’t need helicopter parents, but they do need support.

Providing resources and materials, encouraging success habits, setting reminders, and being there to talk are perfect ways for parents to properly support their young adults during this time. 

More Great Reading:

How I Learned to Land the Helicopter

About Jane Evans

Jane Evans is a married, biological mother of three who also has a step-grandbaby who is just 6 months old. She is a full-time volunteer representative for the American Red Cross. Jane has a Master's of Communications and a Master's of Education and has taught as an adjunct Communications Instructor since 2007. She has a child with autism. She loves learning, writing, and spending time with my family. She has two dogs; Chase is a goldendoodle and Rocco is a frenchie.

Read more posts by Jane

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.