Welcome to the Student Counseling Center (SCC) web page for parents!
The university years are an exciting and stimulating time for students, a time of significant change for both students and their families. In addition to preparing for a professional career, students face numerous challenges and opportunities to learn about themselves and the world around them. For the next few years, students will need to make important life decisions, develop their personal and professional identities, interests and values, and evolve from adolescence to adulthood. This page, gleaned from our experiences, and wisdom from universities across the country, is intended to assist new students and their parents in anticipating, discussing, and successfully navigating the university years.
Warning Signs That Your Child May Be Having Trouble
For many young adults, this is the first time in an entirely new environment where they are away from everything that is familiar to them – friends, family, home, community. According to a UCLA study, more than 30% of university first years reported feeling overwhelmed a great deal of the time during the beginning of college. Unfortunately, research reflects that 2/3 of the students who feel this way never tell anyone and never seek help!
This is one way in which you can be enormously helpful to your child. Maintain regular communication, and ask how things are going. When you talk with your son or daughter, take note if he or she mentions:
- Being sad most or all of the time
- Feeling life has no meaning, or there is no hope for the future
- No longer enjoying things he or she once liked to do
- Sleeping a lot more than usual, waking up often, or having trouble falling asleep
- Excessive drinking or partying
- Loss of appetite, or developing odd eating or exercise habits
- Having trouble concentrating
- Being tired all of the time
- Having low self-confidence
- Thinking about death and/or suicide
- If your child experiences any of these signs, please don’t assume it is a phase she or he will outgrow. Feeling stressed or sad for weeks and months can indicate more than just difficulty adjusting to life’s changes. Encourage your child to get help from the Student Counseling Center.
How Can the SCC Help Your Son or Daughter?
The SCC offers free, confidential services for currently enrolled students at Tarleton State University . We offer an array of programs and services that facilitate and enhance your child’s academic success and emotional well being. For a complete listing and description of our services, as well as information about what most often brings a student to counseling, please see the SCC home page.
The counselors at the SCC are under ethical and legal obligations not to release confidential information. We cannot tell anyone that a student is receiving our services. Counselors adhere strictly to confidentiality laws for our profession and can only break confidentiality if the student gives direct written permission. One exception, in the case of danger to self or others, involves breaking confidentiality of the student without permission so that the student or others are protected.
If your student gives us written permission, we can confirm for you that your child attended an initial intake appointment. We cannot provide additional information other than the fact that the student did attend that first appointment.
If you would like more information about your child’s attendance at the Counseling Center , you can directly ask him or her. It can be really hard not to ask for details about therapy, but the freedom to talk with a professional and be assured that the conversations will remain private can be the best support parents can give. Please let your child decide how much or how little he/she wants to reveal.
Campus Assessment, Response and Evaluation (CARE) Team
The VA Tech tragedy reminded and compelled us to remain vigilant regarding the safety and mental health status of our students. To this end, Tarleton took a deliberate effort to review its processes and procedures pertaining to the identification and referral of students of concern (defined as students who may be at risk of harm to self or others). The result was the Campus Assessment, Response and Evaluation (CARE) Team. CARE is a team of university staff and faculty. CARE was created so that anyone who is concerned about a student (including parents), can refer them quickly and efficiently. CARE was created to provide a proactive and caring way to prevent tragedies like the one that occurred in Virginia Tech. Confidentiality is maintained by all members of the team.
Learn more about CARE Team and how to refer a student that you may be concerned about.
How Can the SCC Help Parents?
The Counseling Center can provide consultation services for parents. We are glad to answer any questions that you may have about our services, and hear your concerns about your child. It will not be possible for you to know who your child’s counselor may be, since we can neither confirm nor deny that any student is receiving our services (see above). Rather, your call will be directed to an available counselor or the Director and, if no counselor is immediately available, the secretary will take your number and someone will return your call within the day. Feel free to call and talk about your concerns regarding your child, indicated, or to request referral information about resources in our area.
Some Additional Information We Thought You’d Like to Have
Adjusting to Life at Tarleton:
- Socially: the people who are apt to make the best adjustment to university life are the ones who get out of their residence hall rooms, meet other people and get involved with interesting activities – in addition to classroom work and study.
- Home for the weekend: Students who go home every weekend and students who don’t get involved in extra-curricular activities tend, on average, to drop out of school more frequently and to be less satisfied with college in general. Getting involved on campus tends to be associated with greater satisfaction and higher retention. Every office in the Division of Student Life is ready and able to assist your student in determining how to translate her or his interests into activities at the university.
- Being informed : Keep your son or daughter informed about what is going on at home, in their hometown community. Keep in mind that some students can be really hurt and resentful about being “protected” from unhappy news, like a grandmother’s illness or the death of a pet.
- Finances: Talk about financial issues in a realistic and specific manner with your child (i.e., what you will and will not pay for, your expectations for how money should be spent, etc.). Be cautious about your child financing expenses by getting a job in Stephenville. As a somewhat small community with thousands of university and high school students vying for a handful of jobs, it can be quite challenging to get work, even minimum wage jobs. Your child can check with Career Services for the latest part-time job listings available.
- Credit Card Debt: One of the fastest growing problems among university students across the country isn’t what you might think. It’s not drugs, or alcohol abuse, not partying or taking too many classes. It’s credit card debt! Credit care applications and credit card vendors are common at universities. Credit card companies see students as great risks because of their future earning potential and so are happy to issue card after card. Many students take advantage of this to collect a wide variety of cards that they charge to the maximum and then make minimum monthly payments, racking up many dollars worth of interest charges and penalties. It is critical that you discuss finances and responsibilities of adults for their debts.
Academic Challenges, or What it Might Be Helpful for You to Know
- Not the 13 th Grade: Tarleton is likely to be more demanding academically and there is more competition for grades than before. Students may quickly recognize that they are now competing with other students who were all in the upper half of their high school classes. This is definitely NOT the 13 th grade. Students may have been able to make straight A’s in high school without much effort or study and without developing the learning skills (e.g. note-taking, textbook reading, study skills) necessary to succeed in college. It can be demoralizing to struggle in an area in which you used to feel competent.
- Larger classes : Classes may be larger and there may be less individualized attention than in high school. In high school, students seldom have classes larger than 30 or so. During the first year of college, it is not unusual to enroll in introductory (survey) classes that hold 100 students or more. It is easy to feel disconnected and unimportant. In order to counter such feelings, students must be able to advocate for themselves. That is, they must ask the professor questions in class or during office hours and they must take advantage of graduate assistants for additional help.
- Academic Advising: Registering for classes and choosing a major can feel overwhelming. However, it is your child’s responsibility to meet with his or her academic advisor on a regular basis to determine the courses necessary for the next semester and register appropriately.
- Career Services: If a student is unsure about a major or career direction, he or she should take advantage of our excellent Career Services department located on the second floor of the Thompson Student Center , just down the hall from the SCC and Health Center . The majority of students either do not know what major to pursue when they initially enroll in college or they change majors at least once during their college career as they learn more about themselves and their true interests, values and abilities. Career Services can be of invaluable assistance in choosing a major, uncovering interests and abilities, helping students who are looking for part time work, resume writing, etc.
- Time management: In high school, most students spend nearly 35 hours each week in class. In college, they may spend 12 - 17 hours in class. Some days, they may not even have any classes. These periods of non-class time during the day (and evening) can easily be spent in a variety of non-academic activities. Many students are not aware of the general guideline that, for every hour of class time, a student should spend approximately two hours studying and completing assignments and projects. In order to perform well academically and also have time for socializing, exercising, and leisure activity, both time management and organizational skills are critical. The Counseling Center offers workshops and individual counseling, which address issues of time management, effective decision-making and other personal issues.
- Feeling overwhelmed by course work: The constant studying for quizzes and exams, reading assignments, completing projects and papers and other responsibilities can be overwhelming, and can sometimes lead to procrastination. Procrastination often worsens the problem. Some students reveal perfectionist tendencies, or unrealistically high self-expectations, which can further immobilize their efforts, add to their discouragement and impede their effectiveness. These issues are frequently seen in the university student population and may be discussed with counselors at the SCC.
Some Additional Reading Resources
- Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money. Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller, 2000.
- How to Survive and Thrive in an Empty Nest: Reclaiming Your Life When Your Children Have Grown. Robert H. Lauer and Jeanette C. Lauer, 1999.
- When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent's Survival Guide. Carol Barkin, 1999.
- Almost Grown: Launching Your Child from High School to College. Patricia Pasick, 1998.
- Empty Nest, Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College. Andrea Van Steenhouse and Johanna Parker, 1998.