The Center for College Student Success recognizes that support networks outside of the university can be an invaluable asset to a student's success. We hope this page serves as a resource for all families and supports at home, but especially for the support networks of our first-generation, low-income, and undocumented/DACAmented students.
We'll be providing information about events on campus and opportunities for you to engage with the university community, as well as tools to help you support your students during their journey at UChicago.
Coming Home for Break for the First Time
As the quarter closes, many first-year students are planning to go back home for the first time since arriving on campus this fall. It's an exciting time for both students and their families, but in many ways, it can also serve as a source of stress and anxiety. Although it hasn't been long, your students have likely grown leaps and bounds since coming to the university, and sometimes that newfound growth makes going back home difficult.
To best support you as you support our students, we wanted to point out how your student may be slightly different than when they left, as well as ways to navigate your growing relationship with a burgeoning adult.
Change 1: Increased Autonomy
Your student is in charge of their schedule here. Whether they go to class, when they eat, how long they sleep, and what they do with their time is completely dictated by them, which is often a large shift from home life. It's common for students to express anxiety about going home and having someone tell them what to do again, and you might experience frustration if they're reticent to listen. We often find that discussing expectations early on is beneficial to both students and their families/support networks, as you're both redefining expectations in your relationship.
Change 2: Stress and Mental Health
College is a tough place. Approximately 20% of students struggle with mental health issues, and college life can exacerbate, or even trigger, a student's symptoms. It's particularly important to note that students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, or those first in their family to attend college experience additional stress. Keep this in mind if your student comes home and seems stressed or asks for time to decompress. It might also be helpful to remind your student of all the mental health resources they can utiltize on campus.
Change 3: Lifestyle and Ideological Differences
Your student could come home newly vegetarian or libertarian. They could express that they're exploring their sexuality or have met a new signifcant other. They could proclaim they're giving up their pre-med coursework, and instead intend to pursue a life of sociology. Whatever the change is, chances are that your student will come home a little bit different, and that's great! We hope you take this opportunity to meet them as a growing adult. Ask them questions, give them advice, and remember that part of being at the University of Chicago is discovering more about themselves.
Change 4: Post-Election Impact
The University itself takes no political standpoint; however, that doesn't stop our students from being engaged in the local and national political discourse. This year's election has had a particularly large impact on many students, both positively and negatively. There has been a surge of student activism and discourse on campus, even divisive flyers, that your student may want to talk about with you. Or, it's possible that you and your student may hold differing political ideologies, which could be a source of conflict for all involved. We urge you to consider how best to navigate this particular topic of conversation with your student but want to affirm how impactful this could have been and continues to be for them.