For Parents & Family

For Parents & Family

It’s natural for the family of new students to be concerned about their children’s successful transition to college. Beginning college can be an overwhelming experience for many entering students. Your support and guidance during this unique transition time is instrumental to your relative’s success. Below is list of challenges that your son or daughter may experience in college. 

Click on the topics below for information on how you can make a difference.

• Academic Challenges
• Identity Development
• Career Decisions
• More Serious Problems 


Academic Challenges 

It is very common for students to feel overwhelmed at the beginning of their college career because in the college environment they are expected to be adults and take responsibility for their actions and their learning process. Going to class, completing assignments and keeping up with required reading is considered the student’s responsibility. Although students may be spending what appears to be less time in class compared to high school they are expected to complete far more work outside of class. This requires an adjustment on the part of the student in terms of managing time effectively, prioritizing assignments and changing poor study habits.

What You Can Do To Help With Academic Challenges:
  • Attempt to offer support and encouragement for the hard work and study efforts that your student is demonstrating.
  • Create a supportive study environment. Your student needs a quiet area in which to work.
  • Demonstrate “interest” in whatever your student expresses; ask questions regarding class schedules, assignments, activities. Be encouraging but not overbearing.
  • Express “pride” in accomplishments and college progress. Make statements such as, “I really feel proud about your work at John Jay.”
  • Encourage use of the free student services available at the college: Math, English, Counseling, Career Advisement etc.
  • Make sure that your family member is not working too many hours at a job that prevents them from getting their school work done. Going to college should be the primary focus whenever possible to enhance success.
  • Conversely, if your family member is working full-time or close to it, make sure that they are not taking more classes than they can reasonably handle. It is important that you assist your freshman in not setting themselves up for academic failure.


One More Thing: Is this the Right Time?

If for some reason your student does not experience academic success their first year at John Jay College, it is important to realize that he/she may not be “ready”. Sometimes, a semester away from the college can make a significant difference in the maturing process. Your student must “desire” and “value” earning a college degree. Each student learns at his own pace -- no easy task for the student and for you as parents – their support. 
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Identity Development 

During adolescence, individuals are in the process of forming their own identities. This process includes becoming separate persons within the family and creating their own value systems, spiritual beliefs, and tastes in clothing, music, and friends. When adolescents make choices that run counter to the values, beliefs and preferences of their parents, this causes conflict within the family. Yet, this process of carving out their own separate identity is a normal part of their life long growth and development.

What You can Do To Help With Identity Development:

Listen with an open mind to your son or daughter’s “changing” ideas, values, and opinions about issues, as college life promotes critical thinking.

  • Expect that your son or daughter will come home from college classes feeling like an “expert” in a particular subject, with strong opinions and feelings. Be tolerant and patient as they are attempting to express their individuality. Let them express their feelings and opinions. Try not to discourage their enthusiasm, even if their views are different or in contrast with your views.
  • Help your adolescent move toward greater emotional independence. Each decision they make independently will increase his/her ability to make new more difficult decisions in the future.
  • Trust and respect your freshman’s decisions especially if you think they are well thought out. Help him/her explore the range of their choices, but let them assume responsibility. 

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Career Decisions 

Your college student may feel pressured to know what they want to major in and select a career path as soon as they start college. Others may start college thinking they know what they want to major in and then change their mind. Students need time to take different subjects and to be exposed to many career possibilities in order to make a career decision. Making a premature decision may be more costly in the long run.

What You Can Do To Help With Career Decisions:
  • Do not push your student to “choose a major” or to make a premature career decision. Freshman students are not expected to choose a major and more than likely they will “change” their major several times before making a final decision. This is a natural process since they are being exposed to a variety of new subjects and new career fields.
  • Encourage your son or daughter to take a wide variety of courses and to get involved in college activities.
  • Encourage your son or daughter to speak to someone in Career Development and the Internship Office, which can be of assistance to them throughout their time at John Jay College. 

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More Serious Problems 

Issues discussed above are all part of the normal developmental process of becoming an adult and making the transition to college life. Below is a list of issues that merit concern, and for which a referral to the Counseling Department or to another health agency would be warranted. Be observant of behaviors that may indicate that your son or daughter is in difficulty:

  • feels sad for a long period of time
  • eats too much
  • eats too little
  • drinks alcohol more frequently
  • has difficulty sleeping
  • complains of illness
  • has not studied for period of time
  • studies compulsively
  • is absent from classes


What You Can Do To Help With Serious Problems:
  • Be supportive of your son or daughter
  • Be patient. Serious problems can be overcome, but it takes time.
  • Get your son or daughter the professional help they need.


Resources for Parents and Family

At John Jay, contact:

Behavioral Intervention Team 212.237.8100
Counseling Department 212.237.8111
Health Office 212.237.8052
Math & Science Resource Center 646.557.4635 or 212.237.8019
Jay Express Service Center 212.663.7867
Study Skills Center 212.237.8126
Women’s Center 212.237.8184
Writing Center 212.237.8569

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Helpful links:

College Parents of America
The Parent Connection