Their First Year

    • Tips for Parents of First-Year University Students

      Realize that it's okay for your student to change their mind

      Don't make the mistake of thinking your student's initial education choices are a lock. The great thing about the first year at university is that it is an ideal time to explore new ideas, experiment with different courses, and enjoy unique experiences. Many students discover a passion or interest in something they didn't expect to. This is okay. Actually, it's more than okay, it's verging on fantastic. It means they've discovered something they love doing, which increases the likelihood they will stay in school and complete the program they’re in and build a career that they find rewarding. So let your student know it's okay to change programs if they find something that truly captures their imagination.

      Expect changes in academic performance

      University is a far cry from high school. The work is harder, there’s more of it, and in many cases the subject matter is completely new. In addition, the academic environment is radically different. As a consequence, it's not unusual for grades to slip—sometimes significantly (and that first "C minus" can really sting). So if you notice a drop in grades, cut your student a little slack. Be aware that he is being exposed to many new things at once and is adapting to a dramatically different world. This is the time to be supportive and adopt the mantra of "do the best you can do" rather than "do better than everyone else".

      Know what support services are available on campus

      Remember, you're not in this thing alone. If your student is experiencing difficulties with their studies, or is having a hard time adjusting to the new social environment they’re suddenly part of, there are plenty of services available on the campus that can help. These services range from providing academic support, such as extra help with writing and math, to providing personal support, such as assistance with stress and time management as well as personal counselling. To see a complete list of available services, see Services.

      Stay on top of important dates

      Your student, from virtually day one at university, is going to get busy in no time at all. Lectures, homework, group projects, and administrative tasks will seemingly conspire to swallow all of your student's time and attention. As a result, there's a strong probability that important dates and events will be forgotten about or missed. Knowing tuition payment deadlines, exam schedules, and class drop dates—and even going over them with your student—will not only help you gain insight into what's going on in your student's life, but will increase the likelihood that key deadlines don't get missed. Consult the Academic Schedule & Important Dates for a comprehensive overview of key dates and deadlines.

      Follow the money

      University costs money. Lots of it. And even though Capilano University is generally less expensive than many postsecondary alternatives, it still represents a substantial investment. Also, with their newfound sense of freedom, a student might "relax" their financial discipline a little. So, what better time to introduce your student to the world of money management? Take this opportunity to discuss openly money matters and issues pertaining to financing your student's education (like who is paying for what). Students who know how to manage money, and are aware of concepts such as credit card interest rates and how to balance a chequebook have a huge head start on success. Visit our Financial Aid & Awards page for more information.

      Encourage your student to get involved

      Students who get involved in student organizations (even if it’s only one) during the first few weeks of class stand a better chance of making friends, becoming more engaged in campus life, and building effective social and communication skills. These all contribute to improved academic performance and increase the likelihood of building a successful career.

      Brace yourself for their new-found adulthood

      We’re not saying you and your student have to start going to the opera together, or spend evenings discussing how wonderful the Diefenbaker years were, but you should be prepared for a shift in the relationship you have with your son or daughter. If, for instance, you're accustomed to being highly involved with your child's daily activities, you should be prepared to let go a little and change your role to that of mentor or guide. In fact, now is an ideal time to encourage independence in all aspects of your child's life. Increased independence will build confidence, let your student get more out of university, and is instrumental to success later on in life.

      Be flexible

      One of the first things your student is going to realize is that the academic workload at university is considerably heavier than it was in high school. The next thing they’ll realize is that unlike high school, no one is constantly reminding them about when assignments are due. Then it dawns on them that all of a sudden, they are responsible for having to manage their own time. This means there will an adjustment period. Your child’s schedule is likely to become erratic and unpredictable (especially since assignments have an uncanny ability to all become due on the same day). As a result, your student might be late for dinner on occasion, might miss chores, or might not always be around to show you how to stop the clock on the DVD player from blinking after a power outage.

      Striking a balance is key 

      A common reaction for many students thrust into a new academic environment is to bury themselves in their books. While studying hard is commendable, it is also important to bear in mind that studying is like many other things in life: it must be approached with a sense of balance. Nobody can effectively concentrate for hours at a time without taking a break every now and then. Encourage your student to follow a proper diet, do regular exercise, and socialize. Hobbies are nice, too. So, to ensure your student isn’t overdoing things, it’s good practice to every once in a while chat with your son or daughter about extracurricular activities and encourage them to engage in them. There are many clubs and opportunities available on Capilano University for example. Be careful, however, not to appear as if you’re checking up on them; we all know how well that will fly.

      Keep the lines of communication open

      Because of the student confidentiality policy, we will not be able to inform you of any problems that arise (for example, your student isn’t attending classes). We also can’t discuss details of your student’s academic record with you (we know, we know, you’re paying the fees, but it’s the law). The upshot of this is that communication between you and your student is critical. It is really the best way to stay abreast of your student’s progress so that you can anticipate and address problems early.

      Be prepared for a little culture shock—or even a lot

      University exposes students to many new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new ways of interpreting the world. Not to mention new people, new cultures and new experiences. In other words, change is pretty much inevitable. This change can manifest in many ways, from a radical new haircut, a different wardrobe, or new political or religious views. It is also essential to bear in mind that part of this growing process could involve your student questioning the world around him, including values that that are important to you.