Parents and Families: How To Help Your Student

Counseling Services welcomes you and your student to Arcadia University.

Our staff is available to assist you in ensuring the emotional and psychological well-being of your student. Please review our recommendations to learn how you can support your student during their time at Arcadia. We look forward to working with you in expressing your concerns and identifying solutions.

Ways You Can Support Your Student

  • Communicate regularly and with loving support. It is important to stay in touch. Talk about feelings, concerns, differences of opinion, etc.
  • Be an active listener. Ask clarifying questions and offer reflective statements. Try to see situations from your student’s perspective.
  • Show that you can tolerate conflict and change.
  • Understand that your student may not be readily available at all times. 
  • Expect, normalize, and acknowledge conflicting emotions, changes, and feelings related to the transition to college.
  • Expect changes in your relationship with your child. Change is inevitable during this important developmental stage in your child’s life. It’s usually better to try to accept this and work to facilitate positive changes in the relationship rather than attempt to prevent change from occurring.
  • Encourage use of resources available to students at Arcadia (e.g. counseling, academic or career advising, Residence Life).
  • Be alert to signs of stress. Stress is a normal part of student life in college. However, increased stress that persists over time may interfere with students’ academic or social functioning.

Indications Your Student May Be Struggling

Parents are the first to notice changes in a student’s behavior. Some changes are normal while they adjust to college. However, if your student is struggling, you may notice some of the following signs:

  • A change in appearance (e.g., dress, hygiene, weight).
  • A drop in GPA or academic performance.
  • Increased irritability or agitation.
  • Consistent reports they are “having a hard time,” or are “miserable”.
  • Distracted or preoccupied thoughts.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Frequent absences from classes or meetings.
  • Expressions of loneliness.
  • Trauma, loss, or crisis (e.g., relationship breakup, death of a friend or family member, physical illness, sexual assault).
  • Expressions of hopelessness.
  • Indirect statements about death or suicide (e.g., “I just want to disappear”).
  • Direct suicidal statements (e.g., “I’ve had thoughts about hurting myself”).
  • Cutting, burning, or other self-harm behaviors.
  • Alcohol or other drug abuse.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.

Talking to Your Student About Your Concerns

  • Talk to your student when they are alone, and at an appropriate time.
  • Be honest and specific about your concerns (e.g., “I am really worried about how you are doing. It seems like you might be depressed and I want to try to understand what is going on with you”).
  • Describe your observations in a non-judgmental way (e.g., “For the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that you are often in bed during the day when I call you, and your grades have dropped”).
  • Express your feelings (e.g., “I care about you and I am really worried seeing you like this”).
  • Offer your recommendations (e.g., “I think it would be helpful for you to talk to someone. I can help if you’d like”).
  • Anticipate concerns and fears about seeking counseling. Be prepared to discuss them.
Have Your Student Contact Counseling Services

If your student admits they are struggling, have them call (215) 572-2967 or stop by Counseling Services on the ground level of Heinz to make an appointment. 

You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

If you believe that your child is in distress, you are welcome to consult with one of our staff at Counseling Services. Keep in mind, due to the limits of confidentiality, we are unable to release information to you about your student without their permission. However, we can listen and make recommendations. 

Contact Counseling Services

To reach a staff member during business hours, call our office at (215) 572-2967. Depending on the nature of the situation, we may suggest that you inform someone (e.g., Public Safety, Residence Life) who can take directly address the problem and help your student in need.

Additional Resources

Here are a few books you may find helpful.

  • Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Today’s College Experience (5th ed.), Cobum & Treeger (2009).
  • I’ll Miss You Too: An Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students, Bane & Bane (2006).
  • You’re On Your Own (But I’m Here If You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years, Savage (2009).
  • The Naked Roommate: And 1007 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College, Cohen (2011).
  • Lecture Notes:  A Professor’s Inside Guide to College Success, Freeman (2010).