Finding The Right Communication with Your Student

Hey, I did get that vid of Dad fishing! Great stuff - sorry I can’t talk right now; I’m meeting with my process design team. I know it’s been a minute since I’ve called, but I promise I’m okay. It’s my last year here at Florida State University, and I have grown so much. I’m sure you were probably sick of me calling every day of freshman year telling you about the latest campus quirk, but now I’m in the groove of things. You are probably worried, but I promise that I am still the same Anne who tried to drive that pink Barbie Jeep to the first day of Pre-K, just a little taller, but still have that Jeep! 
I’m making a lot of lifelong friends within the Chemical Engineering department; my peers and friends are so driven, and that is something I want to emulate. It has been a rewarding experience to see everyone start to find their passion. The hardest thing right now is finding time to do everything I want to do. It was challenging to learn how to tell people I can’t hang out – FOMO is still so real, but finishing this degree is definitely my priority. I am currently involved with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and I recently sat on their panel for the seniors who finished an internship! Also, through the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, I had the opportunity to attend a Fundamentals of Risk-Based Process Safety Workshop. Even though I am coming to a close in this chapter, there is still much to do. I do have to say, Google Calendar has really come in handy – I used to be so disorganized, but now I upgraded.

Anyway take care, and we’ll talk soon

Does this communication sound familiar? Does it bring a mix of feelings? As the family member of a college student, it is important to acknowledge that you are also experiencing a transition. Your student is no longer at home, and it is natural to want to connect and make sure they are safe. Find peace and reassurance in that your student cares for you, but their schedule is jam-packed with new experiences. Consider the tips below to help you during this transition. 

  • Embrace technology
    • Your conversations will more than likely be taking place over the phone. Facetime is a great way to connect with your student and feel as if you are sharing space. 

If you have an android and your student has an iPhone, you can still video chat through apps like Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, Whatsapp, etc. 

  • Establish a Communication Schedule 
    • Open up a conversation with your student, and be prepared to listen. Prioritize your student’s success in the conversation rather than your own emotions. Your student might feel pressure to create more space in their schedule than they have available if you express disappointment which can be overwhelming for them. Try to make a schedule around the time that they have available rather than pressuring them to adjust their busy schedule. 
    • Frequency: Establish how many times a week you will communicate with each other. Establish a limit, how often is too often? How often is not enough? Justify your answer in safety rather than emotion. Discuss a frequency that both of you feel comfortable with and allow mutual boundaries to be set.  
    • Communication Method:  Establish how you will communicate. Text, phone call or video chat are great options that allow for open communication. Know that each communication requires a different amount of commitment, and consider your student’s schedule for the day of communication. 
  • Establish Visiting Days
    • Ask them what days would be best for them to come home. With a busy college schedule, finding free days to visit home can be a challenge. Maybe try and plan out these days a month or so in advance so that your student has plenty of time to prepare. It is very rare that a student can take a spontaneous trip home, so be prepared to give your student an advance notice.
    • Ask them if they would be interested in having you visit them in their space.  Events like Family Weekend or induction night of an organization, society, etc. are great opportunities for family members to come and visit. Make sure that you plan your trip for a day or weekend that your student has a lot of time available so that they can give you their full attention and make your visit worthwhile.

Allowing your student to establish these boundaries with you when it comes to communication is essential to maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with them while they are away. Their time in college can be difficult for both of you, but it’s important to give them their space to grow and to celebrate this growth with them whenever you get the chance!

Written by Yanira Campos

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