You are a crucial partner in your student’s success.

This guide serves to provide an overview of the opportunities and resources available to new students not only as they transition to Ithaca College but throughout their undergraduate experience. We look forward to partnering with you to help your student create the greatest journey while at Ithaca College.
Guiding a First-Year College Student

New School Means New Beginnings

The first few weeks at Ithaca College are full of new experiences—including orientation, new classes, first-year residence hall programs, the student organization fair, and many others. These experiences are exciting, and students have many opportunities to explore. Not every student will admit it, but most will miss home, especially during the first few weeks.

"I was so wrapped up in getting to know my roommate, preparing for classes, and exploring the campus that I forgot to check in with my parents. I remember when they called me a week later (a little panicked) and feeling comforted that they were supporting me in my new life." —Heléna Murphy '15

Ask Questions

First-year students tend to want some personal space, but most also crave the assurance that family and friends will continue to be interested in their lives. Send a text message or a letter: ask about their first-year seminar class, residence hall neighbors, and organizations in which they may be getting involved. Familiarize yourself with campus resources such as the counseling center and the peer tutoring program so that you can encourage your student to make use of them, as necessary.

"My first year at IC, my family asked me all kinds of questions - about my classes, involvement, well-being, etc. When they started supporting my decisions, I realized that they were genuinely interested in my success. I knew that I would be able to reach out for help in any situation, and they would be there to support me." —Bob Haskell '15

Expect Change

Students change not only during their first-year but throughout college (and beyond) as well. Living with others in a residence hall and being exposed to new concepts in the classroom can influence students' personal behavior and choices. This is natural and inevitable, and it can be inspiring and beautiful.

"I was heavily involved in high school, and I was nervous that I would not be able to find a similar connection at Ithaca. to my surprise, I not only got involved, but I was able to experiment with my interests and skills. This opened the door to multiple leadership position, meeting my closest friends, and establishing my identity within this community." —Marlowe Padilla '16

Your Student Still Needs You

Living away from home and navigating college-level work can be stressful. When things get difficult, your student may seek your advice. Listen, help your student identify coping strategies, and be patient. Remember, too, that your student might not tell you about any number of "good things" - a new favorite restaurant on the Commons, a new friend, or an "A" on a paper. You are an important part of your student's support network. Your encouragement will help your student successfully negotiate challenges.

"My parents helped me overcome my homesickness by reminding me of the reasons I chose Ithaca. All I needed was their support and some time for me to really recognize how much I was actually enjoying my college experience." —Katrina Clark '17

Everyone Experiences College Differently

Finding one's place as a student can take time and effort. Encourage your student not to use friends' Instagram or Facebook posts as a measure of his or her own college experience. Each journey is - and should be - unique.

"It took me longer than expected to meet authentic friends. It wasn't until I started opening my door and joined a student organization that I met people I could connect with on a deeper level." —Leonard Slutsky '14

Trust Your Student

During one student's senior year, his mom wrote, "I love you an want for you all the things that make you happy, and I guess you are the one who knows best what those things are." Say that to your student now, and believe it.

"I would not say that I am a completely different person than I was my first year at Ithaca College, but I have definitely evolved. A class, a life experience, and even a person you meet can shift the way you think about the most concrete topics. Know that the person you dropped off will not be the same person you pick up a few years later. Trust in their evolution, and know that you have given them the love and foundation they need to succeed in college - and in life." —Imani Hall '16

This is an exciting time of transition for the entire family, and it can be challenging.

Your student will encounter many new opportunities-and will have to make many choices. With these will come growth and change not only in your student but also in your relationship. Continue to build on a foundation of open communication, trust, and support to help ensure that the transition is smooth and the outcomes positive.

Encourage your student: Send text messages, emails, letters, cards, news clippings, and care packages. Initiate telephone calls, plan visits, and attend special events on campus.

We encourage you to take advantage of the many resources that are available at Ithaca College and to enjoy the college experience together.

Several publications offer helpful information about the transition to college.

We recommend the following:

  • Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money by H.E. Johnson and C. Schelhas-Miller
  • Empty Nest…Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College by A. van Steenhouse and J. Parker
  • Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the college Years by K. Levin Coburn and M. Lawrence Treeger
  • When Kids Go to College by B. Newman and P. Newman
  • Almost Grown: Launching Your Child from High School to College by P. Pasick