SUPPORTING YOUR STUDENT MONTH-BY-MONTH
If you are finding that navigating the resources that Viterbo University has to offer is challenging, know that we are here to help! Each month of the academic year brings different opportunities, from moving to Viterbo University for the first time all the way to Commencement. Following are some tips to help you support your student.
Click on a specific month list below or just scroll down to see all 12 months of the calendar year.
Prior to Arrival - A Checklist
- Does your student have a valid health insurance plan and card?
- Has your student submitted immunizations records to Health Services?
- Has your student installed the Viterbo App?
- Has your student completed any last minute housing information?
- Has your student completed the program "MyStudentBody" online? This will need to be completed prior to move-in.
- Does your student have their Student ID? (If not, they can pick it up at Physical Plant when you arrive on campus on move-in day.)
- Have you joined the Official Viterbo University Parent Facebook Group and submitted your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive updates and emails, including the parent e-newsletter?
- Have you made yourself familiar with the Viterbo University Parents and Families web page and its links?
Communication with Your Student: Take some time to discuss with your student how you will communicate with each other and how often. Recognize that every day communication may be too much for your student. Now is the time for them to work on establishing a network of classmates and friends at Viterbo University. There are many great ways to stay in touch without taking up too much of your student's time (email, social media, and texting are examples).
Finances and Budgeting: Talk with your student about how to manage their expenses and/or checking account. Encourage your student to develop a budget. Many parents give their student a credit card. Be sure to have a conversation about use and abuse of credit. If you want your student to use it for emergency purposes only, make sure your student knows that.
Now that it's August, it's time to make the transition to college. In the beginning, your student may feel a bit overwhelmed with the campus, new and unfamiliar services, different policies and procedures, a new roommate, and few familiar faces. Phone calls, emails, texts, letters or care packages will help everyone in this time of transition.
Make sure to show interest in what your student is experiencing and show that you place value on this experience. In the event of personal struggles with a roommate, a professor, etc., encourage your student to try to work out situations on their own in the student-centered environment of Viterbo University. Your instinct may be to "fix" the problem. Instead, recommend that your student use campus resources such as their resident assistant (RA), Counseling Services, Academic Resource Center, or Health Services. This way, you are fostering independence while continuing to communicate your support and concern.
- Ask questions about your student's classes, roommate, friends and new life.
- Expect changes in your student's behavior, look and schedule. As your student begins to flex their freedom, they may not remember to call home as often.
- In the beginning, don't worry (too much) about sad phone calls or texts. With change often comes homesickness and the longing for something familiar. Try to remind your student to get involved and they they will soon fit in. Everything takes time.
- Encourage your on-campus student to get to know their resident assistant (RA).
- Encourage your student to get involved in campus activities (clubs and organizations, intramurals, Weekends at VU, etc.).
- Make sure your student knows about Welcome Weeks, two weeks of FREE fun activities at the beginning of the fall semester. The events during these two weeks offer a great way for your student to meet other students and make new friends.
- When you think about starting this school year, what are you most looking forward to? Does anything make you nervous?
- How often would you like me/us to call/text/email you? Or will you contact us?
- When, and how often, do you think you might come home?
By now your student will more than likely have made a few friends, discovered their favorite classes, and traveled around campus and the community at night and on weekends. During your phone calls with your student, try to have discussions about their general health. Are they getting enough sleep, exercise, nutrition? Here at Viterbo, there are ample ways to sustain a healthy lifestyle or start one if your student needs an extra boost. From healthy dining choices to on-campus counseling services, a healthy lifestyle should be a priority for your student to help them be as successful as possible.
- Encourage your student to use the Library as a resource and as a quiet study place.
- Encourage your student to talk to their professors and advisor about any concerns or questions before it is too late in the semester.
- Reassure your student that feeling overwhelmed is normal for students learning to manage new academic demands and personal responsibilities.
- Anticipate that your student may call home to let off some steam, share worries or sort through situations out loud. Use these moments as opportunities to let them do their own problem-solving by listening, asking questions and affirming your belief in their decision-making. Remind them of on-campus services if needed.
- If your student seems to be depressed or anxious, encourage them to talk to a counselor at Counseling Services.
- Encourage your student to achieve a sense of balance including a healthy diet, adequate sleep, exercise, and relaxation.
- Encourage your student to check out numerous programs and services offered through Recreation and Leadership to keep them active, relieve stress, and meet other students.
- What classes are you thinking about taking next?
- What is your roommate like?
- Have you found a good place to study?
- Have you been able to explore off-campus?
Studies have shown that students who are involved in at least one student organization are more likely to feel connected to their peers, get higher grades, have fewer problems with alcohol and other drugs, and are better prepared for life after graduation. A tremendous amount of learning, personal growth and skill development takes place outside of the classroom. Viterbo offers many excellent opportunities to get involved, and students are sure to find a club or organization that not only interests them, but also provides an opportunity to meet new people, pursue new interests, and give them a sense of belonging.
- On October 1, the Department of Education begins accepting FAFSA for the next academic year's financial aid.
- Encourage your student to join one of Viterbo's more than 35 student organizations. If your student hasn't found anything they like, encourage them to consider starting their own organization.
- Suggest that your student ask their resident assistant (RA) about involvement and leadership opportunities in their residence hall or with the Residence Hall Association.
- Suggest that your student cheer on their fellow V-Hawks at athletic events throughout the year.
- Remember that you have raised your student with a great set of values. Trust them to make the right decisions.
- Are your classes challenging? What is challenging?
- What campus or residence hall events have your attended?
- Have you gotten to know any other students in your hall?
- Are you thinking of joining any campus organizations or clubs? Which ones?
The focus now shifts to final projects and tests that are just around the corner. Any earlier procrastination may now come back to haunt your student. It may seem that suddenly papers, projects, and exams are due practically on the same day. Your student may be feeling a great deal of pressure. At the same time, there will be campus life events and end-of-semester programs competing for your student's time.
- Encourage your student to keep studying over the Thanksgiving holiday. While the break gives your student a chance to catch up at home, it's also a chance for them to refocus their energies for what's left of the semester, including final exams.
- If your student is concerned about tackling the end-of-semester coursework and upcoming finals, remind them about the Academic Resource Center, which conducts workshops on time management, study skills, and offers other academic/tutoring support services.
- Reiterate the importance of adequate sleep, healthy eating, exercise and relaxation.
- What classes did you choose for next semester?
- What are you doing to stay well?
- What are you most looking forward to over Winter Break?
As the fall semester draws to a close, students feel stressed by academic deadlines, approaching exams, and plans for the holidays. Talk to your student about making sure they are prepared for their upcoming finals and that they know what resources are available.
As students get ready to head home for the winter break, discuss your expectations with your student before they return home. It may help to renegotiate curfew hours and family responsibilities.
Enjoy spending quality time with your student. Happy Holidays!
- Accept that your student's grades may not be as good in their first semester at Viterbo University as they were in high school or community college. A four-year college or university is supposed to be more difficult. Remind them that they will adjust in time, and be sure to let them know that you are proud of them.
- Before final exams, send a care package to your student with enough treats for them to share with roommates and friends.
- Offer support by calling, texting or sending emails.
- Make sure your student's fees have been paid for the upcoming semester.
- What could I send you from home to help you get to the end of the semester?
- What might you do differently next semester?
- Would you like to plan a get-together with some of your high school friends over Winter Break?
Now that your student has completed the fall semester, don't be surprised if changing majors is on their mind. This may create concern for both you and your student, but know that this is completely normal. The presents a good opportunity for your student to explore interests and determine what they really want to study. To help, Viterbo's Career Services office is the place to visit.
Remember, though, that students are more than their majors. The best way to prepare for a career is to get a sound education, develop leadership skills and gain career-related experience through internships, community service, part-time jobs, and campus involvement.
- If your student did not meet their academic goals in the fall, suggest a visit to the Academic Resource Center, which offers a variety of resources to address your student's individual academic performance needs.
- If your student is questioning their major, encourage them to speak with their academic advisor.
- Second-year students should begin to select a major, if they haven't already. Encourage your student to participate in the many career and resume workshops as well as other services sponsored by the Career Services office.
- Second- and third-year students should consider seeking an internship in their career field. The Career Services office can assist your student in this process.
- Tell me more about your friends on campus and how they spent their breaks?
- Have you found any new interests since this school year started?
Encourage your student to make the most of their college experience by studying abroad, attending a diversity program, performance, lecture or getting involved in a club or organization.
- Talk with your student about study abroad opportunities. Whether it is for a week or a semester, studying abroad allows your student the opportunity to learn another language, take major and elective coursework, discover new places, and make meaningful connections around the world.
- Talk with your student about the different backgrounds of people they've met on campus. Explore the relationships they are making and promote an open dialogue with students different from themselves.
- Encourage involvement through service learning. Service Saturdays are meaningful ways for students to learn more about others, provide service to those people in need, and explore different part of the La Crosse community. Students are also encouraged to join in a Spring Break Service Immersion Trip in different parts of the country.
- How are you maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
- What have you liked/disliked about your current housing situation?
- Have you thought about where you might live next year? Have you completed housing sign up?
- What are your Spring Break plans?
Your student has made it to the middle of the spring semester, and now is the time to start preparing for mid-term exams.
- Your student will be meeting with their academic advisor to discuss registration for summer and fall classes.
- If your student needs help with issues such as time management, relationships or feelings of distress or depression, encourage them to schedule an appointment with Counseling Services.
- Encourage your student to take part in Recreation and Leadership programs for fun and fitness to help relieve stress.
- Encourage your student to speak to their advisor regarding selection of a minor. A minor expands your student's knowledge base while help to prepare them for additional career avenues.
- Send care packages complete with snacks and encouraging words before or during mid-terms to give your student a little boost.
- Send a text or email to say hello and let your student know you care and that you are there if they need you.
- What courses are you planning to take next year?
- Have you decided on your major, or are you working with your academic advisor to narrow down you ideas?
The end of the semester if right around the corner. Your student is working hard to put the finishing touches on that final assignment, coordinating a group project, tracking down notes from a missed class. Other campus-wide events, such as the Courtyard Carni, are fun experiences your student won't want to miss. Check in to make sure your student is practicing healthy habits during the remaining hustle and bustle of the semester.
- Encourage your student to use the Library as a resource and a quiet study space.
- Encourage your student to talk to their professors about any concerns or questions before they get to finals week.
- Encourage your student to look into job shadowing, volunteering, working or interning in their career field of choice for the summer. A good place for them to start is the Career Services office.
- Summer is a great opportunity for your student to take a class to get ahead. Encourage them to look at summer classes at Viterbo University or a college campus near home. Make sure your student speaks with the academic advisor before registering.
- Emphasize to your student that they should approach finals with the attitude of doing the very best they can, and not worry tediously about what has or has not happened so far in the semester.
- How are your summer plans shaping up?
- Have you worked on any projects this year that you might want to add to your resume?
MAY - WRAPPING IT ALL UP
While finals are wrapping up, students are thinking of packing up their rooms, returning home, and leaving friends and relationships. If your student is returning home for the summer, now is a good time to discuss expectations regarding curfew, social activities, responsibilities, family trips, working, etc. Clarity, consistency and compromise can go a long way in finding common ground. May is also a time for celebration and next steps for those that are graduating and headed to that first job, graduate school, or another exciting adventure! CONGRATULATIONS to your graduate and your family!
- Keep the lines of communication open and supportive. One of the best strategies students have against stress and fatigue is talking with someone they trust.
- Before your student heads home for the summer, remind them to take care of things on campus before they leave. This might include forwarding their mail to their summer address, paying for parking tickets or overdue library item fees, looking into storage possibilities for their items if needed.
- Discuss the past year with your student. Identify problem areas and encourage your student to consider possible solutions.
- I see so many positive changes in you! How do you think you've changed this year?
- Do you wish you had done anything different this past school year?
- I am so proud of all you have learned and accomplished this year. I am confident you are going to find your path. Be patient with yourself!
For some student, especially first-year students, life back at home after a year away may take some getting used to. The independent streak you've been nurturing may make your student seem a little distant. Just keep the lines of communication open and remain clear about your expectations for the summer, and your student should slow begin to readjust to home life.
If your student opts to enroll in summer classes either at Viterbo University or elsewhere, they will be back into the grind of coursework and exams. Because the weather's inviting and the campus atmosphere is more laid back, your student may feel like they don't have to try as hard to complete the work. However, summer classes are just as rigorous -- if not more so -- as fall and spring classes. Summer classes often run at a quicker pace, and students have less time to complete assignments. Refresh your student's memory about time management so that they can enjoy summer fun but complete assignments on time.
- It may take some time for your student to adjust if they have decided to come home for the summer. Work with your student with regard to setting up a schedule and introducing any potential curfews.
- Your student's relationship with hometown family and friends may have changed. Work with your student on redefining those personal relationships.
- Make time to visit your student if they are going to be away for the summer.
- Spend quality time with your student discussing what work and what didn't last semester, and how to use the experience to make the next semester even better.
- Review your student's financial needs for the upcoming year.
- Talk to your student about the importance of credit and money management. Encourage your student to apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. Even small amounts will help.
Georgia Institute of Technology Parent & Family Programs. (n.d.) Supporting your student month-by-month. Retrieved April 1, 2020, from https://parents.gatech.edu/content/supporting-your-student-month-month.
~ and ~
Colorado College Parents and Families. (n.d.) First Year, Month-By-Month. Retrieved April 29, 2020, from https://www.coloradocollege.edu/us/parents/first-year.html.