How do you know how your college student is really doing? Is your college student distant and not talking to you often? Or, do they say everything is fine anytime you ask, making you wonder if they really are fine?
As a parent, this can be frustrating, but your student may just be enjoying college and living in the moment.
Nine signs that all is well with your college student
1. They don’t message or call you every day
Not messaging you all the time doesn’t necessarily mean that your student doesn’t want to talk to you or is avoiding you. Instead, they may be enjoying time with their friends or studying for their classes. College students are often busy balancing classes, clubs, friends, and homework. Most of the time, there is no ill intent when not messaging parents or forgetting to respond — it usually just means your teen is preoccupied (in a good way) with something else.
(Hint: if you really want to hear from them, change the Netflix or Amazon password or send a photo of their pet!)
2. They don’t come home every weekend
If your student doesn’t need to come home often, this is a good thing. Students can miss out on the college experience if they spend all their weekends home. Weekends on campus are when many students make their closest friends because they have free time to explore the surrounding areas, attend campus events, try new restaurants, visit museums, and do other fun activities with friends.
3. They don’t aimlessly complain about their classes
Remember, there is a difference between complaining and asking for support. If your student doesn’t rant about their classes or how awful their professors are, this is an excellent sign that all is well.
On the other hand, if your teen is having a difficult time in a class and reaches out to you to ask for advice or support, this can show that they care about the class and want to do better which is also a good sign.
4. They tell you about their friends
If your student tells you about their new friends, that’s an indicator that socially, all is well at college. Making friends can be very difficult for many college students, and loneliness is standard on many college campuses. Even if your student has one or two close friends, this will help them tremendously when they need someone to talk to on campus or just someone to hang out with.
5. They are attending campus events or sporting events
Attending campus events such as concerts or the homecoming game shows that your student is a part of the campus community and that they are making the most out of college. Also, attending college sporting events like football, basketball, or soccer games is guaranteed to be fun because they will be in the student section filled with pumped-up students, exciting their team.
(Hint: RAs often will organize ways for students to attend events as a group. Encourage your student to participate!)
6. When they visit home, they look forward to going back to school
If your student loves college enough to be excited about returning to school after a break, this indicates they are happy at their university. Some students don’t want to return to school and are extremely homesick while at college, so this is awesome if your teen looks forward to going back! Or, if they talk about how they are “bored” at home, this probably shows that they are living an eventful and fun life on campus.
7. They have joined a student organization and are active in it
Joining a club or Greek life may be an excellent way for your teen to network and be part of a community on campus. There are so many campus organizations, and there is truly something for every student. If your student hasn’t joined anything, it can be helpful for you to encourage them to try out a new club and see how they like it. They might even meet some of their best friends!
(Hint: follow the organization your student joins on Instagram. You might even see a photo of your student posted, verifying that they are enjoying college life!)
8. They have become more outgoing and social
You may notice a change in the person your student was as a high schooler versus a college student. Many kids gain confidence in college and may even become more outgoing or outspoken.
9. They rave about a professor
If your teen has one professor they rave about; this is excellent both career-wise and academically. Having a professor who can also be a mentor could open many doors for your student in the future. For example, your student could assist with research, and this professor may also be able to help your student find an internship or write a letter of recommendation in the future.
Even if your student is showing only a few signs on this list, remember that these are all indicators that they are doing better than you might think! As a parent, the best thing you can do is let them be independent and support them from a distance. And, keep in mind that even if your student does experience struggles at college, this is normal, and they will be okay.
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