Challenges in College Transition

First Year Family Blog

Challenges in the College Transition

Is your student expressing that they are struggling?

The reality is that not all students have a smooth transition to college, and in fact, the majority of students experience at least some kind of challenge when starting college. Often, this is the time of the year that students will start to voice their second thoughts (if they haven’t already) about college or UW-River Falls. It can be daunting to be on the receiving end of a phone call with your student expressing their frustrations, especially when you would like to be able to fix their problems for them.  Regardless of what the source of their trouble is, it is important to keep in mind the different options your student has. Below are some conversations you can have with your student:

  1. What can they change right now or next semester to improve their situation? Do they need to study more consistently, or find a more efficient study location? Is their major a poor fit for them? Do they have a bad roommate situation and need to reach out to Residence Life staff such as their resident assistant or hall director? Do they need to adjust their work hours so they can be more productive during the day? Even small changes and shifts can make a big impact.
  2. Consider reaching out to Student Health & Counseling Services. Your student does not have to have a mental health concern to schedule an appointment with Student Health and Counseling. This office can help students work through any difficult situation and provide students with beneficial coping skills. If your student is reluctant to pursue this option, you can always call the office to ask for help or advice on helping your student.
  3. Communicate with their professors and adviser. The sooner your student talks with academic staff about what they are having difficulties with, the more likely staff will be able to best support your student. It can be intimidating for students to admit when they need help and  sometimes they just need the reminder that their professors want to help them be successful.
  4. Make a plan. When students go through so many changes so quickly, sometimes the most accessible option to them is to close themselves off and want to give up. Regardless of their situation, help your student make an action-oriented plan to resolve their concern. You can be a resource by helping your student talk through how their plan is working, or by asking if they need to consider other options.

Sometimes students are not yet ready to take on the challenges of college and their best option might be to leave the university. This is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. There are various steps a student needs to do to make sure that they withdraw properly, including contacting the Financial Aid Office and the Registrar’s Office to officially withdraw from their classes. Because of this, students should work with their academic adviser who will help them formally withdraw. Whether your student takes a semester away or a couple years away, they are always welcome to re-enroll. More information on withdrawing can be found on the Registrar’s website.

Regardless of a student’s history or previous situations, college can present students with challenges and opportunities for complex decisions, but with every challenge, there is an opportunity for your student to grow. As parents and family members, you know your student best. If something does not feel right and you are unsure of how to help, please connect with our office or another campus office to help determine steps that might be right for your student.