Transition Chat: Communication
Leaving home typically means a restructuring of daily life in light of the newfound independence that university life provides… for parents and for students! That said, one of the elements of daily life that we all take for granted when we live under the same roof is communication. Most families tend to operate in routines, and those routines most regularly provide opportunities for students and for parents to connect and communicate, if not daily then at least regularly. So, in light of how these routines will need to be adjusted, we ask that you consider the following:
How will you communicate with your family?
Here are several additional questions and points to consider as you establish a communication plan:
What is an appropriate amount of communication home? What is too much? What is not enough? What is an amount that you can both agree on?
What does this communication look like? Is it on the phone? Videoconferencing? Texting? WhatsApp? FB Messenger?
Who will initiate the communication?
How will a difference in time zones impact your communications?
When will the communication take place?
Alumni Advice: Talk about a communication plan before you leave! It will make things easier when you arrive and settle in.
Alumni Advice: Many families recommend setting a weekly time for a more formal and lengthier call home, such as on a Sunday night. That said, take time to consider how the time difference can wreak havoc on communication plans.
Parent Insight: “A video conference with our daughter once a week freshman year was plenty. Always having it on Saturday afternoon for her was really helpful, as she never had to worry about us expecting to talk at unplanned times.”
What are the expectations regarding communication with other relatives? Grandparents, siblings, others?
With whom will you share your college mailing address? (Parents: care packages — shipments of reminders of home — go a long, long way for college students!)
Have you collected all of your relatives’ mailing addresses? (Students: periodic postcards with handwritten messages can be pleasant surprises.)
What are expectations surrounding academic updates? Keep in mind that colleges generally will not communicate with parents about student grades or other issues!
What constitutes an emergency? And whom will the student contact? And how? What is the designated mechanism for communication in the event of an emergency? Be sure to explore the expectations around emergencies clearly!
This piece is part of a series on “transitioning to college.” We encourage graduating seniors and their parents or guardians to engage in discussion on a weekly basis about these topics. If you have feedback or additional ideas or perspectives to share, please let us know so we can incorporate your thoughts into revisions of our posts.