The transition home after the first year at Elon
By communicating and compromising together, your family can have a happy household this summer.
The First Summer Home
To make the most of your student’s time at home this summer, take a look at these top topics, identified by University Parent:
Curfew. Your college student is used to a new college lifestyle where curfews do not exist. There may have been nights where your student stayed up late with friends or stayed up late studying. Work with your student to agree on a curfew that works for both of you — a time that won’t keep you up at night worrying.
Chores. During the first year, your student didn’t have someone telling them when to make the bed or tidy up. If you find your student’s room and habits are not up to standards during the summer, work with them to set clear expectations about what it means to live with the family but also be sensitive to the new found independence and lifestyle your student has created for themself. Be clear with your student about what you expect from them. One of the “house rules” might be that everyone contributes to running the household in some way. Decide as a family what those roles look like.
Sharing Space. College is known to make college students into night owls. If your student blasts music or movies at 1 a.m., ask them to plug in their headphones after a certain hour. This way your student doesn’t feel pressured to go to bed and the family can have a good night sleep. Discuss expectations about sharing space, and keeping noise at a comfortable level.
Friends. Seeing old friends, missing new ones at college, and sorting out complicated romantic relationships can all take an emotional toll on your student. If they constantly have friends over or seem to always be on their phone, work with them to establish nights where their friends can come over and when they cannot. This will allow for them to feel like they still have a social life, and give you a chance to designate certain nights for family time. If they are navigating challenging relationships, be there to talk things through with your student, if they want to.
Academics and internships. Your student may be stressing about their first-year grades, academic requirements, and a feeling that they should be “doing more” (comparing themselves to their Elon peers and friends at other institutions). Encourage them to do their best, make the most out of their summer (being sure to take time to rest and rejuvenate), and let them know that they have your support along the way.
Sleep. When they first arrive home, your student may just want to catch up on sleep in a comfortable, familiar setting. Letting them relax before plunging into the next few weeks of reunions throughout the summer could do them some real good.
If your student is not returning home for the summer this time around, consider the following ideas to help them feel connected to you and home from afar:
- Google Hangout, FaceTime, or Skype them with all the family around;
- Send them a care package with some of their favorite goodies, especially those from their home;
- Write them letters and/or cards to open on different days throughout the summer.
With any issues that arise, communication is the key. Before starting an argument, work with your student to solve the issue before it becomes a larger problem. No matter what comes up during the summer, you’ll be able to make the most of your time together by lending a listening ear, a supportive shoulder, and a caring heart.
Below is some advice shared by parents on the Parents Council:
"1. Set groud rules (expectations i.e. helping around the house, communicating about plans, curfew). 2. Have some family time and schedule outings." - Jon and Nina P'18
"Give them a little down time to relax after their finals and to reflect a bit on their first year. Soon though, make sure they are kept very busy (job, travel, etc.) as they have been very accustomed to being extremely active during their first year and they need to stay engaged!" - Jeff and Diane P'18
"Let your student sleep!" - Olga P'17
"Remembering that home is home and the basic guidlelines prevail - the overtone is the same - however, flexibility is key. Curfews will change but respect and familial responsibilities are the same." - Tom and Donna P'18
"Force them into a routine if they are not working. Make them volunteer! Be patient - even though they think they are grown, they still act like children." - Beverly P'16
"Create respectful boundaries - curfew for safety and peace of mind; housekeeping, laundry, etc. Communication is key! For example: 'Are you planning to have dinner at home tonight?'" - Fran P'13 P'18
"Keep them busy - job, class, volunteer - because they miss their Elon friends and many home friends are out and about. Busy is good!" - Jackie P'18
"Expect your student to be more independent and need you less." - Beth P'16
"Encourage your student to take one online course to 'stay sharp' and continue to learn and get credit toward graduation, if possible. Also, make sure parents plan to set aside time for family-only activity and seek student's input on what he/she would like to do with the family." - Scott P'18
Compiled by Kasey Harvill, Director of New Student and Transition Programs, and Kara Nunnally, Coordinator of Parent Engagement.