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Fostering Self-Responsibility in Your Student

Going away to college can be a big transition for some students. Here are seven ways you can foster self-responsibility in your student:

  1. Help Your Student Make His Own Decisions. When you say, "Well, what do you think you should do?" during a phone conversation, you're offering your support but, instead of jumping in with foolproof advice, you're helping your student figure out his own answer.
  2. Trust Your Student. And let her know that you do. She'll likely feel more confident, supported and able to stand up for what she believes as a result.
  3. Communicate without Over Communicating. Check in with each other a few times each week via email or phone. However, don't feel like you need to touch base every day — there needs to be some space in between so your student can gain a sense of independence.
  4. Don't Solve Everything for Him. The tendency to jump in and "take care of things" is natural. Yet, students need to start learning to do these things for themselves. So, try not to fix things — instead, ask questions like "What steps have you taken so far?" to help your student take the lead and take self-responsibility.
  5. Stay Involved. Just because your student goes off to college doesn't mean she stops needing your input. Your involvement is essential to her success. Be interested, ask questions without prying too much and listen to what she has to say.         
  6. Let Go a Bit. You can't know where your student is every hour of the day — nor should you have to keep track of that. Instead of quizzing him about where he's been, ask more general questions like "Have you gone anyplace interesting lately?" or "How have you been spending your free time?" so he can share without feeling put on the spot.
  7. Keep Her in the Loop. Even though your student is building a new life at college, it doesn't mean she should be cut off from what's happening back home. Share a balance of news to keep the connection strong — and to make sure your student focuses on people besides just herself, too!

It's a time for transition as you and your student determine how to stay connected. Keep the lines of communication open, let mistakes be made and encourage your student to make decisions for himself. It's all part of the process, especially in this important first month.


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