University of Notre Dame

Supporting Your Student

As a first step toward adulthood, the first year of college is full of highs and lows: one minute everything is fine, the next a disaster. Knowing how and when to give parental support, or when new college students should work things out for themselves can be difficult. Here are a few ideas and suggestions for your consideration:

  • Revisit the values and expectations that you have with your child before you come to campus. Your student will encounter many elements of adult life right away — reminding them of where you stand may help them cope with some difficult choices.
  • If your student has any individual needs or requirements, make sure we know. The University has services that range from special dietary options to disability accommodation, so finding the right resource right away will contribute to a smooth transition.
  • We understand how hard it can be to hear about your child’s fears and anxieties when you are far away and can’t be there to help. Before you jump in the car or on a plane, please make sure that your student has taken advantage of the support network that we have in place. Encourage your student to communicate with his or her First Year Advisor about any problems as they come up. Remind your student that problems are best dealt with when they start, not when they begin to become overwhelming.
  • The first year at Notre Dame is designed to be a time of intellectual exploration and adventure. Please share the excitement of trying new ideas, perspectives, and experiences with your student.
  • Parental support in taking care of the practical details like phones, computers, furniture will reduce the inevitable stress that surrounds leaving family and friends.
  • People who are new to independent decision-making rarely avoid making at least one mistake. The structure provided by the First Year of Studies ensures that whatever mistakes are made will have the least possible impact on overall success at Notre Dame.