Advice for Families and Supporters of New Students

As a family member or supporter of a college student, your job is now much more about coaching and giving your student the space and encouragement to learn new things on their own. This is a critical (and sometimes difficult) mental-shift for most first-time families/supporters of new college students.

  1. Realize that academic challenges are much different than high school.
  2. Know that it's more than okay for your student to change their mind (about their major and more) as they journey through college. In fact, we expect this! At IC, 15% of students start college without a major and 38% who come to IC with a major will change it. 
  3. Encourage your student to get to know their professors by participating in class and attending office hours. Their professors should easily know them by name!
  4. Discuss a plan to stay in touch with one another. What are each of your expectations? (And, what is the plan for revisiting your communication plan as your student adjusts to college life and may need/want to call less frequently?)
  5. Encourage your student to remain on campus most weekends. College is about more than classes; there are important life lessons built into every aspect of the college experience.
  6. Expect that your student will be quite busy. In addition to class and studying, there are performances, athletic events, student organizations, social activities, community service opportunities, and so much more. 
  7. Send care packages. We have yet to meet a student that doesn't appreciate a thoughtful reminder of home. 
  8. Leave space for your student to solve their own problems. Of course, you can be a coach or consultant, but refrain from stepping in to do the outreach for them. Self-advocacy and problem solving are an important tools students can refine while in college. 
  9. Encourage your student to get involved. There is something for everyone at Ithaca College!
  10. Ask new, open ended questions they might not often hear or have the chance to reflect on. Check out our conversation starters here

Adapted with permission from SUNY Purchase, (2020). Support your new student. Retrieved from