Transition to College; It’s Their Time to Launch
Parents/Guardians of a Residential Student
The summer before a student’s first fall semester is usually busy with graduation (and grad parties!), shopping, vacation, family obligations, and completing the final paperwork for enrollment. It’s also a period of transition as your student prepares to launch a chapter in his/her life.
If you are the parent or guardian of a traditional-aged student, you are probably accustomed to knowing a lot about their school activities, who they hang out with, and their grades. For a variety of reasons, one being the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the flow of information from the institution is vastly limited.
The best thing that you can do is to have advanced and honest conversations with your student during the summer transition so that they understand your expectations, and you understand their perspective. Some families even make up a type of informal, personalized contract that both parties sign.
Initially, some students experience homesickness as they adjust to new surroundings. Although you may be missing your student as well, be positive when communicating with them and try not to dwell on the negative side of separation. Let them talk, and certainly be compassionate but remain positive. Offer to come to campus for a scheduled visit, if possible, so that you can reassure them in person. Encourage them to attend Welcome Week activities, join clubs, accept offers to each a meal with a new friend. Remind yourself that part of their maturing is learning how to make their own way.
You gave them roots and wings and now it is time to let them launch their first solo flight.
Parents and Family of a Commuter Student
Although your student will still live at home, you should still expect a transition. Afford your student the freedom to remain on campus to study, go to the gym or participate in student organizations or lectures. As much as is possible, resist asking them to provide childcare and to come home immediately after class each day. And, just like a residential student, have advanced, summer conversations regarding your expectations regarding potential curfews and other expectations; let them provide you with their perspective.
Parents and Family of All Students
As mentioned above, your student is about to launch into a new life chapter. Your role in their life is transitioning from a "director" to a "support specialist." When you receive a distraught call (and you probably will), be prepared to ask clarifying questions and encourage your young adult to look at all options and pursue a solution. Unless you feel that the situation is a safety concern, resist the urge to solve their problems for them. Students who can advocate for themselves in college will be better equipped to advocate for themselves in the workforce and in life.
USC Aiken provides a safe, inviting, and active atmosphere for our students to learn and develop leadership and social skills.
In the fall, the bulk of our residential students move in a few days before classes begin. It’s August in South Carolina, so we can just about guarantee a warm welcome on a number of different fronts! We are here to greet students and their families, and offer assistance in getting students’ belongings to the right place. Be excited for your students as they step into their new home away from home! We are excited for them!
Freshmen, as well as upperclassmen, can look forward to a wealth of opportunities during our Week of Welcome as they get ready to launch a new academic year.
Beginning college (or beginning again) is an exciting time for students. It is also an exciting – and sometimes stressful – time for parents and families. You will be supporting your student in a variety of ways and we are here to help.
USC Aiken provides a one-day orientation for incoming first year and transfer students. Did you know that we also provide separate orientation programming for parents and family members? You will have a slightly separate schedule than your student so that all parties get a glimpse of opportunities that await our students at USC Aiken. Orientation is fun as well as informative, and we hope that you will add one of the four orientation sessions to your summer schedule.
Is your student enrolling for the first time in January? No worries! We also provide a version of our summer orientation for those who are joining us for spring term.
Sign Up for Our Newsletter
Each month USC Aiken Parent and Family Relations distributes an e-newsletter to our extended Pacer family. If you or a loved one are interested in receiving the next issue, please complete the form below to sign up for Pacer Parent email updates.
Especially for New Pacer Families
Welcome to the extended Pacer community!
We are thrilled that you are supporting your student’s wish to attend the University of South Carolina Aiken, and we are here to assist you. We want to make sure that you love the university as much as your student does!
Please feel free to contact Parent and Family Relations with questions or concerns during days and times when University offices are open.
Our Parent and Family Relations Coordinator, Sandy Talbott, will be happy to assist you or direct you to where you can go for help.
Parent and Family Relations Coordinator
Regular Office hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Subject to change as needed