What students face in their first year of university - parent information

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Supporting your student throughout their first year.

Many students will experience some stressors and challenges in their first year at university. Below is a list of common issues that your daughter or son may have to deal with during that first year. Keep in mind that most students adjust quite well; in fact, even those who have some of these problems usually work through them on their own. 

If necessary, Student Services professionals are here to support all students. We wish the parents of our students well as you support them through their exciting new journey.

University student issues and ways to support

First Semester

  • Excitement exploring new boundaries and testing new freedoms.
  • Possible homesickness and frequent calls home.
  • Some anxiety about coursework, social life and residence life.
  • First set of exams; often disappointed by drop in grades.
  • Roommate problems may arise.
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend issues; romantic relationships from home may end.
  • Questions arise about academic program, such as “Did I make the right choice?”
  • Student becomes involved with student life on campus, makes new friends.
  • Stress and anxiety over preparing for exams and final term papers and projects.
  • Excitement or anxiety about coming home for Christmas.
  • Possible family conflicts over boundaries, rules, new habits and opinions may develop.

Second Semester

  • Happy and/or sad to be returning to campus and routine.
  • Renewed interest in academics; a “fresh start.”
  • New goal setting or confusion over academic program.
  • Homesickness and loneliness can resurface.
  • Some students will get the blues or mild depression as winter sets in, combined with stress and anxiety about academic pressure.
  • Relationship issues may mount around Valentine’s Day.
  • Planning for next year: living arrangements, roommate issues; academic programs.
  • Worry over summer employment.
  • End-of-term pressure and exam stress.
  • Sadness with leaving new friends and relationships.

How to support your student

  • Encourage homesick student to stay on campus and get involved. If quite concerned, contact Counselling Services.
  • Encourage student to seek academic help from professors and Academic Advising
  • Encourage students to pick up a hobby or non-academic activity, and to contact Counselling Services if they are stressed.
  • Listen to student as they voice concerns; normalize fears.
  • Encourage student to speak to Housing staff about roommate concerns.
  • Encourage career counselling.
  • Relax old standards during vacation; discuss new rules with increased freedoms.
  • Don’t worry about new habits; most are short-lived.
  • Talk about the changes you’ve noticed and celebrate their newfound maturity