Before Classes Begin
Curb your enthusiasm
Students may get nervous if family members are more excited about their college experience than they are. Put those redecorating plans for their bedroom on hold at least until after their first semester!
Develop a budget with your student
Have a frank conversation about their budget for the year. Setting a plan will better direct smart financial practices. If this is not one of your strong points, encourage your student to meet with a financial aid counselor when they arrive on campus.
Things to consider:
- Determine how much your student will contribute to their education.
- Decide on how the bills are going to get paid (tuition, health insurance, rent, phone, etc). Your student's university bill will appear on their my.BoiseState account. If you are assisting with payment, make sure they keep you up-to-date on due dates.
- Encourage your student to check their my.BoiseState account and e-mail frequently for important information (at least twice a week). The my.BoiseState and e-mail are the main venue of communication for the university.
- Encourage your student to establish a checking account, if they do not have one already. Does your student know how to write a check or balance a checkbook?
- Talk with your student about credit cards. They will most likely receive offers for credit cards with very high interest rates. Consider setting limits if your student is using a card that you provide and spell out your expectations about using it. Excessive credit card debt can be a large stressor for students.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
At Boise State, your student's well-being is of our utmost concern. Staying healthy can sometimes be challenging for busy college students. According to the National College Health Assessment conducted at Boise State, used to determine student health habits, behaviors, and perceptions, it turns out stress (financial, academic, emotional/personal, etc.) is the number one health factor impacting academic success. Knowing stress will likely be a factor your student will deal with, you can:
- Discuss the importance of sleep, healthy eating and physical activity in addressing their stress level in college. Knowing and applying sound health habits positively impacts mental and physical health and our ability to ward off illness.
- Express the importance of time management and planning in managing stress.
- Encourage your student to take time out of their busy schedules to de-stress and relax. This can actually help with productivity and make the college experience more enjoyable.
- Let them know that there are resources, like the Health Center, Advising and Academic Enhancement, and the Recreation Center available at Boise State to help, if they need some guidance.
Discuss boundaries and fitting in
New students often feel an amazing amount of independence during their first semester. You may find your student testing boundaries and exploring new beliefs and behaviors. Sometimes, however, they are unaware of the consequences of their decisions. Talk openly with your student about attending parties, alcohol and drug use, sexual decisions, safety, and peer pressure. Although these conversations can be tough, they are extremely important. Families have more influence than they realize when it comes to students making positive decisions about such life issues.
Check out the following resources:
Planned Parenthood: Tools for Parents
Boise State Campus Security and Police Services
Parent Handbook for Alcohol
Drinking issues are a growing problem on college campuses nationwide, particularly for first-year college students. In an effort to reduce underage drinking and alcohol-related consequences, we are using a strategy where families play an active role in this process. There are several important things to consider when approaching this topic:
- The transition from high school to college provides parents with an optimal time period to talk to their student.
- Research shows that the impact of such discussions, just prior to starting college, leads to lower alcohol consumption during college students' first year.
- Further, these talks lower the risk that students will experience serious alcohol-related consequences.
- We encourage you to stand apart from most parents, take an active role, and communicate with your student.
The information in this handbook is based on more than 16 years of research conducted by doctors, educators, and parents and family members like you. To request this handbook and for any questions about these materials, please contact Jodi Brawley, Assistant Director of Wellness and Marketing, at email@example.com.
Alcohol, Other Drugs, and College: A Parent's Guide is a wonderful resource to understand college drug and alcohol use, consequences, and what parents can do about it.
What Parents Need To Know About College Drinking from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Learn the facts about drinking and how to discuss alcohol use and abuse with your child.
Fall Semester - A Time For Parents To Revisit Discussions About College Drinking. (PDF)
Great information and advice for parents on raising their children alcohol and drug free.
Feeling under the weather
Unfortunately, there may be times when your student is not feeling well or needs assistance. Know that Boise State has medical, counseling, and wellness services on campus that all currently-registered students can access, whether they are enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) or not. Make sure your student carries their health insurance card with them at all times. Browse the Health Center's website to learn about their affordable offerings.
Note about medical records and health insurance. Generally, students do not need to send or bring their medical records to the Health Center. However, if your student has a chronic or recurrent condition, treatment in process for an illness or injury, or any other need for continuity and communication between medical providers and counselors, copies of records should be brought to their first visit.
Note about important Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) waiver information. As required by the Idaho State Board of Education, all full- fee paying students attending classes in Idaho must maintain adequate health insurance. Students registered for full-fee paying credits, intercollegiate athletes, and international students are automatically enrolled in the university-sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), with the premium charge added to their tuition and fees billing. Students who provide proof of continuous enrollment in an alternative US-based health insurance plan with comparable benefits are able to waive out of their SHIP enrollment each semester. Intercollegiate athletes and international students cannot waive out of SHIP. For more information regarding the SHIP waiver criteria, process and deadlines, please visit the SHIP website.
Note about independence and confidentiality issues. Medical consent and confidentiality are areas that can cause concern and friction between parents of adult students (18 and older) and health care providers. For effective counseling, medical, and wellness support to occur, the Health Center offers students a safe and confidential atmosphere. It is against the law to break this code of confidentiality. The only exceptions are when there is a situation of imminent, life-threatening harm to self or others, or if the student signs a release of information.
The Health Center encourages parents to consult with our staff regarding concerns they may have about their student. Although our staff cannot disclose whether your student is using our services, we can receive information and utilize it as appropriate. Although this may be hard to accept at times, confidentiality improves communication with providers and supports students as they develop into independent adults.
Getting key immunizations
Students should consider receiving certain immunizations when entering college. These immunizations can help protect one's health, although not required by the State of Idaho or Boise State to attend the university. Check with your doctor about the following recommendations. Immunizations are available at the Health Center on campus.
- Hepatitis A: Should be considered, since Idaho is a state with higher rates of infection.
- Hepatitis B: Strongly recommended, if not received previously during childhood or adolescence.
- Influenza: Should be strongly considered each fall.
- Meningococcal meningitis vaccine: Strongly consider.
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella): Booster needed during primary or secondary school or before college.
- Tetanus-diphtheria booster (within ten years).
- Varicella (chickenpox): Recommended.
For detailed information about these immunizations, check out Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccines and Immunizations.
Attend orientation with your student
Take notes at the orientation sessions. You will learn about many of the resources that Boise State offers its students. This information will prove useful in supporting your student throughout their first year. Consider buying a t-shirt from the Bookstore, as a way to show how excited you are about their college experience.
Advise your student to check their my.BoiseState and e-mail accounts frequently for important information. my.BoiseState is the main venue of communication for Boise State.
Expect them to be overwhelmed. Understand that in their conversations with you, they will be adjusting to their academic load, expectations of college professors, living with a roommate, and new freedoms. Work to listen before passing judgment or trying to "fix" their problems. Ask them open-ended questions and encourage them to seek support on campus. If college classes overwhelm them, mention the need to talk with their professor during their office hours and with their academic advisor. If they are struggling to find a common bond with their roommate, make sure they are sharing those concerns with their roommate. Encourage talking with their Resident Assistant or their Resident Director about their concerns.
Let them know you care. With all of the newness, many students feel homesick, even if they are still living at home. Make sure to stay in communication with your student; send e-mails, call, send care packages, and show your interest. Even if they do not always respond, they enjoy knowing that you care. If your student lives on campus, respect their privacy and call ahead before showing up. Make sure to continue sharing news of events occurring in the family so they still feel connected. If your student is commuting, have a family dinner night or a message board where they can stay in touch with you. Counseling visits are very affordable; encourage your student to visit with a counselor if they are having a tough time adjusting to the campus environment.
Campus involvement. Encourage your student to get involved. This is an excellent way for them to feel connected. Make sure to continue sharing news of events occurring in the family so they still feel connected. If your student is commuting, have a family dinner night or a message board where they can stay in touch with you. Encourage them to visit with a counselor on campus if they are having a tough time adjusting to the campus environment. Counseling visits are very affordable and it is very normal for students to use these services. During the first few weeks of campus, they will have the opportunity to attend a club fair. Ask them about which clubs and organizations they are thinking of joining. Research shows that students who get involved graduate at a higher rate.
Ask them about their classes. In each class, students will receive a syllabus which outlines the expectations, assignments, and test dates for the semester. Encourage your student to buy a planner and map out how and when they are going to complete assignments and find time to study. Discuss the importance of becoming part of class study groups and chatting with upperclassmen about strategies for success. Students should plan ahead - procrastination will stress them out and negatively affect their academic performance.
Encourage them to visit their professors. Each professor has set office hours. This is a great time for your student to review the expectations for the class and ask any questions they may have.
Encourage them to meet with their academic advisor. Students need to connect regularly with their academic advisor. Your student should find out where their office is and what their office hours are. This person will be instrumental in keeping them on track towards graduation.
Revisit time management strategies. Many students will try to balance a full load of classes with work, family commitments, involvement opportunities, and a social life. There are always a plethora of other things to do besides study. Again, encourage your student to buy a planner and map out time for classes, studying, involvements, and de-stressing time for themselves.
Discuss FERPA. The Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (also known as the Buckley Amendment) is a federal law that limits the amount of information that can be released about students to people outside the University without students' specific written permission. To comply with FERPA, follow the guidelines that are practiced at Boise State University. See the Registrar's forms page for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Confidentiality Statement.
At Boise State, we feel it is important to focus on communicating with our students about their academic and personal success. There is a Privacy Release form students can fill out to give family members partial or full access to their records. Many families find that they do not need to sign a release statement because they are able to talk with each other about grades, finances, etc. Deciding whether or not to sign the Privacy Release form will be something you and your student will need to discuss.
By now your student has experienced their first tests/papers for each of their classes. Did they feel prepared? Have they balanced their time and been able to study? If they feel they did not do well, this is a good time to recommend that they seek help. There are many resources on our campus to help students academically. Advising and Academic Enhancement is an excellent resource to help students succeed in the classroom. Encourage your student to make an appointment.
Your student should also be settling into the semester and beginning to feel more at home. Again, if you get a sense that they maybe struggling or need someone to talk to, encourage them to visit a counselor on campus.
End of the Semester
Understand your student's changing relationship. Your student may find it challenging to connect with high school friends who are attending another college or have gone on to the work force. They may not find the same things in common anymore. Allow your student to voice their frustrations and understand this is part of the transition.
Financial Aid. Students will be re-applying for financial aid in the spring for the following academic year. Make sure they stay on top of the deadlines. Students should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1.
Discuss their future plans and options. Many students are still not aware of what they want to major in. Encourage them to meet with their academic advisor again and to stop by the Advising and Career Services Building to discuss career exploration. It is completely normal for students to still be undeclared at the end of their first year but it is important that they are using campus resources to focus on finding a major. Encourage them also to visit the Career Center regarding job exploration.
Throughout the First Year
Your student needs you. Encourage them to communicate with you about their new life. You have been important and will continue to be important to them. Keep the door open. Sometimes the conversations may be hard to hear, as they are further exploring their values and beliefs. Ask open-ended questions and refrain from judgment. Access the resources offered to you at orientation and encourage your student to seek the resources they need to be successful.
High School vs College
High School - Students have multiple opportunities to ask their teachers questions outside of class. Teachers are more diligent about keeping students up-to-date on assignments.
College - Professors set up a few office hours per week. They do not remind students of work, but distribute a course syllabus at the beginning of the semester to inform students of important dates and expectations.
Family Access to Student Grades
High School - Families can access grades and progress reports online or schedule meetings with teachers.
College - FERPA regulations will not allow faculty members to discuss a student's progress with a family member unless a student has given that family member access to their records.
Attendance in Class
High School - Attendance is mandatory and there are strict penalties for missing class.
College - There will be classes where attendance is taken and others where the professor does not take attendance. It is the student's responsibility to attend class and stay on top of assignments.
High School - Students have limited freedom. Family members have much more control over the decisions a student makes.
College - Students have much more freedom and the decisions they make can have serious consequences.
High School - Students have a much more controlled schedule and their family environment can help them stay on track.
College - There are many opportunities to be distracted. Time management and learning to balance one's commitments becomes even more important.
High School - Students tend to follow their families' values.
College - Students have the opportunity to interact with others from different backgrounds and value bases. Their value system may change.
Source: University of Nevada-Reno Family Handbook
Suggested Reading for Families
The following is a list of a few of the plethora of books written on the college student/family transition process. For a more comprehensive list, research your local library, bookstore, or look online. Boise State University does not recommend or endorse any of the following books or any of their contents.
- Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years
Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller (2000)
- Empty Nest...Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College
Andrea Van Steenhouse (2002)
- The Healthy Student-A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Teens for the College Years
Dr. Lawrence Neinstein and Helen Johnson
- Helping Your First-Year College Student Succeed: A Guide for Parents
Richard H. Mullendore (2000, out of print, limited availability)
- Let the Journey Begin: A Parent's Monthly Guide to the College Experience
Jacqueline MacKay and Wanda Johnson Ingram (2001)
- Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years, 5th Ed.
Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger (2009)
- You're on Your Own (But I'm Here if You Need Me): Mentoring your Child During the College Years, 2nd Ed.
Marjorie Savage (2009)