Turning “Helicopter Parents” into Educational Partners

Parents Can Help Build Confidence, Responsibility and Resiliency in College-Aged Children

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Parents have an important role to play in helping their college-aged children build confidence, responsibility and resiliency, according to Joe Henry, Associate Dean of Student Success. Based on his experiences working in higher education for the past 12 years and research he is conducting toward a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D), Henry has some practical advice for parents.

“Many families talk about the transition to college life in general, but not all of them set ground rules for things like who is allowed to view a student’s academic progress,” observes Henry. “Colleges cannot release this information to parents without the written consent of the student. Now is the time to have this conversation to avoid disappointment or confusion when the school term begins.”

Henry also recommends that parents get familiar with the institution’s website. “That’s where you can find key dates about when and where students will be notified about fee payments or the last day to drop a class without academic penalty. Having this information on hand enables parents to prompt their kids to be responsible for all aspects of their learning journey.”

Attending orientation is also on Henry’s list. “It has a powerful influence on academic transition and social integration. Our research has shown that students who participated in orientation last year had an average GPA of 3.15 after one term, compared to 2.49 for those who sat out. We will continue to track these groups to see if the numbers hold true over the long-term.”

At Sheridan’s orientation sessions next week, there is one workshop that is exclusively for family and friends. “We invite parents to encourage help-seeking behaviours in their children and familiarize themselves with student services including advising and counselling. Parents can help by reinforcing the message that it’s okay to ask for help and someone will be there to help find a solution.”

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