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Bringing It Home – The Saint Rose Blog

Advice for Sending your Student to College: Resist the Urge to Help


Pedro with his family

Pedro with his wife Ciria (left) and sons Daniel and Marcos (far right, who is attending Saint Rose).

Fellow parents and families,

I wanted to share with you a few heartfelt thoughts of encouragement as your students begin their journeys at Saint Rose.

My wife and I are Saint Rose parents. Two years ago, at this time of year, we saw our firstborn son Marcos begin his own Saint Rose journey. As we watched him walk through the rear doors of the Daniel P. Nolan Gymnasium with the Class of 2022, we thought to ourselves, “Wow, I thought we had more time with him.”

So, we understand the stress of sending your child away to school. 

Whether this fall marks your first or last child going away to college, this transition from childhood to adulthood comes with its own set of adjustments and challenges — for them and for us.

Our son Marcos will turn 21 this December. We still vividly remember the day we brought him home from the hospital, laid him in the crib that we had so lovingly prepared weeks earlier, and then looked at each other and said, “What do we do now?” At times we still see Marcos as a small child rather than the young adult he is becoming: a child who fussed when he was hungry, stumbled as he took his first steps (as we tried to bubble-wrap every possible table edge), and slept as we sang to him when he got his first fever. 

But all parents and guardians must come to the realization that self-reliance, independence, expressing one’s ideas, advocating for oneself, learning to plan, and initiating the steps necessary to succeed — the skills that healthy adults possess — are the same skills we want for our students.

So, how can we allow them to become the adults we want them to be? The answer to that question is not a popular one and may be as painful as “tearing off the bubble-wrap” from life’s table corners. The truth is, we need to allow them to navigate obstacles on their own.

Am I suggesting that we avoid taking their calls or hide in the closet when our commuter students come home? No, not at all! The conversations we share with our students throughout their college journey will be new and different — moments that will bear proof of their growth and maturity as they define their adult selves.

Since my wife and I have been through this before and learned some lessons along the way, I am offering advice to you as your students begin to navigate their first year at College: Resist the urge to resolve it. 

  • If your student calls home with a roommate issue: Encourage them to sit down with their roommate or speak to their Resident Assistant (RA). Resist the initial urge to resolve it for them and instead allow them to learn how to negotiate — a great skill to acquire for when they have to deal with a difficult coworker in the future.
  • If your student doesn’t see eye to eye with a professor: Encourage them to request a meeting with their professor, or reach out to the Office of Student Life. Resist the urge to resolve it for them and instead allow them to advocate for themselves — a great skill to acquire for when they have to pitch an idea to their future clients or boss.
  • If your student misses home: Encourage them to join a club or get involved in an activity on campus. Resist the urge to jump on a plane or train (or in a car) to visit. The first few weeks of college are an adjustment for all students. But, making friends and “finding yourself” are all part of the college experience. Discovering who they are — on their own — will help them in future relationships, job opportunities, and other important experiences.

Are there exceptions and special circumstances that may require us to take control? Absolutely! (Especially in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic.) However,  allowing our students to resolve issues on their own provides them with the necessary skill set to advocate for themselves and one day for their own families. As we age, our students may be required to advocate for our needs — let that sink in for a moment.  

The Saint Rose Parent Facebook Group serves to encourage, motivate, and celebrate one another as we adapt to our new roles as parents and families. Together we will make it through this! Stay encouraged, and join the Parent Group for more tips and advice from our community.

By Pedro Pérez

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