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Parental Involvement vs. Parental Interference

Emily Lammers
College of Liberal Arts, English Major, Class of 2013

At some point during your student’s college career, your son or daughter will undoubtedly call you with a problem or concern.  A parent’s role is to be there, listen, and decide whether to become involved or let students solve the problem on their own.

Whenever your student has questions about University policies, procedures, or resources, first give your student the responsibility to resolve the issue. When students take care of their own problems, they develop important problem-solving skills and gain confidence in themselves.  If your student feels overwhelmed by a situation, you can provide guidance by determining the category that best fits the concern—then let your student take control.

For academic issues, students can talk to the instructor if the concern is related to a specific class; otherwise they can talk to their academic adviser. Academic advisers provide guidance on working effectively with instructors, planning an academic schedule, and finding tutoring. Students will find the name of their adviser on the student web portal.

If there are issues in the residence hall, students should first talk to their community adviser (CA), but if additional assistance is required, they may contact their hall director. For commuter issues, the Commuter Connection office provides guidance and direction on issues related to the commuter experience.

Though students should attempt to solve their problems on their own, there are certain situations in which parents should be involved.  These situations include when a student is too ill to handle the situation, the student has mental health issues that prevent him or her from making informed decisions, a student’s finances are likely to affect family finances, or the parents cannot locate the student. These situations require advice or action as a parent.  Before you become involved with your student’s issue, however, remember that growth and maturity comes from dealing with decisions, and a big part of college is making choices—even wrong ones—as well as from taking responsibility for both the good and the bad consequences of their decisions.