Your Role as a College Parent
Each student experiences the transition to college in a unique way. Your student will likely go through a range of emotions as they begin this exciting and challenging journey of self-discovery. During this time, your student will face interpersonal challenges and academic pressures, which will deepen their self-identity development. A student’s transition to college can also be an exciting and difficult adjustment for parents. It can be especially challenging to balance providing support for your student as they navigate the college experience, while also encouraging their independence. College students will continue to turn to their parents for guidance, and parents have a great impact on their student’s wellness, decision making, and behavior. Parents have the opportunity to strengthen their student’s resiliency and positive coping through support, encouragement, and trust.
An aspect of college life that impacts all students and families is the shift in responsibility once your student is legally an adult. Your student has the right to confidential care. We welcome your input about your student and ask that you understand we are not able to provide information to you as parents without the written consent of your student. This can only be waived in the case of an emergency in which safety is an issue.
Office of Student Care Coordination (OSCC)
All initial requests for services related to mental health and wellbeing, including requests for therapy and medication management, are managed through the Office of Student Care Coordination. The Care Coordinators at the OSCC will work with incoming students to determine their support needs and refer them to the best resources (including the University Counseling Center) as appropriate.
Steps for Incoming Students & Parents
As you prepare for your student’s transition to university life, please begin to consider the resources your student may need while at Vanderbilt.
- Incoming Students with a history of mental health care prior to matriculation, or who are interested in learning more about their healthcare resources, are encouraged to initiate contact with the Office of Student Care Coordination (OSCC) by calling (615) 343-WELL (9355). For those students seeking medication management for an existing diagnosis of ADHD, please carefully read about the UCC’s ADHD services.
- By contacting the OSCC prior to the start of the school year, your student will learn the most appropriate way to transitiont their care, become familiar with their wellness resources, and be able to take full advantage of the myriad support services available to them. It will also allow you and your student to identify how you would like to interface as a family in exploring mental health options. Students should not fill out a Student Care Coordination Intake Form until they arrive to campus.
- Parents of incoming students may also call the OSCC at (615) 343-WELL (9355) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org either before or during the school year to learn more about the resources available to your student. Parents should not fill out a Student Care Coordination Intake Form on behalf of their student.
- Incoming students and parents are also encouraged to visit Vanderbilt’s office of Student Access Services for information about applying to receive accommodations for a disability.
Communication Tips for Parents
- Develop a communication plan with your student: How often will you communicate? Who will be responsible for contacting whom? Does your student prefer phone calls, emails, texts, Skype?
- When you do talk, listen carefully to what your student is saying and be careful not to overreact. A positive conversation with your student makes it more likely that they will continue to confide in you.
- Listen for cues that your student might be struggling and know what campus resources are available for you and your student to turn to for support.
- Communicate openly with your student about your concerns.
- Be patient—healthy communication is a process.
When your student returns home for visits, you might be nervous to see how your relationship has changed. It is important to communicate before the visit.
Some topics you might want to discuss:
- Will your student need to schedule any appointments (doctor, dentist, haircut) while home?
- Will your student be staying at home during their entire visit or do they have plans to leave to visit others?
- Does your student need to expect any changes in the family or in the house when returning home?
Tips for visits home:
- Try not to over-schedule the visit; your student will need time for rest.
- Take some time to talk to your student about their college experience and acknowledge the positive changes that you see.
- Don’t forget to take time to just be together with your student.