What can I do to help my child transition to university?
Be supportive and trusting and, above all, promote your child’s independence, even though this means you will likely know less about their day-to-day activities. Independence is an important part of every child’s growth and university experience, and you can promote their independence while still being available for support when they need it.
You can check-in regularly with your child in a way that makes sense for both of you, whether you use phone calls, text messages, emails or apps. Your check-ins can be a way of gauging your child’s stress level, especially at exam periods, and how they are transitioning to university life.
Asking the simple question “What can I do to help?” goes a long way, and reminds your child that they are not alone. Your child can also access academic and personal supports at university, and you can learn more about these services in each university profile.
My child is leaving home for the first time. How can I help them find the right services?
Students are encouraged to access the many academic and personal services available to them at their universities. These services may include essay-writing workshops, resumé-building sessions, counselling and access to medical care on campus.
Encourage your child to become their own advocate by reminding them to reach out to staff at student services, other students, residence dons, professors or teaching assistants (TAs). They can also reach out to staff at the Indigenous student centre at their university.
My child is going to have to juggle many responsibilities at university. How can I best support them in meeting responsibilities?
Most of us understand the feeling of having too little time and too much to do. Encourage your child to develop a way to stay organized and on top of their responsibilities that works for them. For example, creating a schedule based on established priorities, including project deadlines, studying, exams, working out, spending time with friends and visiting home.
Students receive a course outline or syllabus for each class they are taking that notes important contact information, due dates and course expectations at the beginning of each course. It’s their responsibility to keep track of weekly readings, due dates and upcoming tasks. The syllabus outlines these expectations weeks in advance. This means that proper planning, and assistance from peer mentors or academic support services, may assist your child with designing a work plan to meet all of their responsibilities. If your child requires accommodations due to a disability, they should contact their university’s accessibility services office before the beginning of the school year.
Is it acceptable to contact my child’s course instructors directly?
Most universities have confidentiality policies, and students are expected to raise any issues or concerns directly with their professors or teaching assistants. All information disclosed by students to staff is confidential and will not be shared with family, other university staff or course instructors without the student’s written permission.
Encourage your child to reach out to their university for guidance on any issues or challenges they experience. Guidance can come in the form of Elders at the Indigenous student centre, academic advisors through their registrar or faculty, counsellors at health services or staff at accessibility services.
What safety features are available to my child on campus?
Ontario universities are dedicated to creating safe and secure environments for students, staff, faculty and visitors. Most universities have security policies and services on campus. These security measures may include:
- Security cameras
- Emergency poles that include a bright blue light and an emergency warning system that connects you directly to campus police if needed
- Campus security (similar to police officers) who are always available by phone, emergency poles and residence phones
- Student volunteer programs, such as foot patrols, which is a buddy system for students who may be walking alone on campus at night or leaving a late-night class. Through this program, students can request 2 foot patrol members to escort them anywhere on campus or to their homes (within a reasonable distance of campus).
- Student-run emergency first responders who can quickly provide aid anywhere on campus. Through this program, students can contact the responders by phone or other emergency access points.
This article was compiled from information from a parents’ guide developed by Western University and a parent page developed by Queen’s University.