The Georgia College Parent and Family Newsletter
The Shy Student
Greetings from the office of Parent and Family Programs! October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Though most of our students have outgrown the petty teasing and bullying that may have made high school tough, many will find themselves feeling like outsiders at some point during college.
"Make sure your student gets involved!" That's the constant refrain you've heard since summer orientation. You know that the first six weeks are critical for making sure a student gets plugged in to something -- a club, a class, a friend group. College is full of new experiences, and the world is their oyster!
All of that sounds great, unless your student is shy. For shy students, the idea of going to a club meeting, finding someone to sit with at lunch, or forming a study group can be painful. They probably envy the outgoing students who seems to make a new friend at every turn.
I have talked to countless parents already this semester about their shy students. (You can assure them they are not alone!) It is agonizing to watch your quiet, sensitive student experience loneliness, exclusion, and a crisis of self-confidence when they are supposed to be having the time of their lives. But shyness can be overcome, and breaking out of their comfort zones is a hallmark of the college experience.
Remind your students to be includers. If you're the parent of a social butterfly, remind them to look out for the shy students. Suggest they sit at the table with someone at dinner who looks lonely or invite the person down the hall to watch a movie with the group. A small act by an includer can make an enormous impact on someone who felt excluded.
"You can survive anything for 10 minutes." This is a philosophy a former student shared with me. She would encourage her friends to go to a campus event for just 10 minutes. If they didn't like it, they could leave. But 9 times out of 10, they were having so much fun they stayed the whole time and ended up meeting other people with similar interests.
Get connected with Get Connected. Georgia College's platform for student organizations is called Get Connected. It can be accessed through Unify or by downloading the Corq app. In Get Connected, students can see every club meeting and event happening on any day. They can filter clubs by area of interest, or just search the calendar for what's happening tonight. Your student's people are out there -- they just have to find them.
Talk through worst case scenarios. Putting yourself out there can feel risky, but what's the worst that can really happen? Have a conversation with your student about their fears and concerns. What are they worried about? How likely is it that the worst thing will happen? Sometimes a little perspective-taking can give students the nudge they need.
Recognize when shyness is really something else. Some students are naturally shy, but severe social anxiety, PTSD and other mental health issues may also be at play. If you're concerned that your student is suffering from something deeper than shyness, encourage them to seek out Counseling Services.
Talking to Your Student About Healthy Relationships | Dr. Jennifer Graham, Director of the Women's Center
Did you know that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
During high school and college, many of our students begin dating in earnest. These relationships range from short-term to long-term and from casual to very serious. Sometimes, we may find ourselves concerned about a dating relationship our student is in. Sometimes we wonder if they are being abused. Your concern is not unfounded; nationally, nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report an impact on their daily lives. Additionally, women between the ages 18 to 24 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.
Maybe you’ve noticed some warning signs such as: their partner puts them down in front of other people; they are constantly worried about making their partner angry; they make excuses for their partner’s behavior; their partner is extremely jealous or possessive; they have unexplained injuries or marks; they’ve stopped spending time with friends and family; they are depressed or anxious or you notice changes in their personality.
There are several things you can do if you are concerned about your student including:
- Acknowledge that they are in a difficult and scary situation and be supportive and listen to them. Let them know the abuse is not their fault, and remind them that they are not alone. Let them know you will be there to love and support them, no matter what.
- Be non-judgmental. This one can be tough, but it’s important to respect your student’s decisions, even if they're not the ones you would have chosen. Sometimes people stay in abusive relationships, sometimes they leave, but it’s most important to not criticize those decisions and to make sure your student knows you love and support them.
- Encourage them to participate in activities outside the relationship. Ensuring your student knows you love and support them is crucial. The more supported someone in an abusive relationship feels, the easier it is for them to get the help they need.
- Help them develop a safety plan. Check out this website for assistance in helping your student create a safety plan, whether they are choosing to stay, preparing to leave, or have already left.
- Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. We have resources on campus such as Counseling Services*, Title IX, Public Safety, or my office the Women’s Center who are here to offer support and help your student get to the best set of resources for them. We also have off-campus resources such as the Bright House*, Circle of Love*, or the Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia* that are able to provide assistance to your student. (Resources denoted with an * are confidential).
- Remember that you can’t “rescue” them. It’s really hard to see someone we love get hurt, but it’s important that your student make decisions about what they want to do. It’s important for you to support them and help them navigate the difficult and scary decisions they may need to make.
- Take care of yourself. Helping your student navigate an abusive relationship can be scary and challenging. Make sure you are also taking care of yourself. This may mean reaching out to my office or the Parent and Family Programs office so we can talk through how to support your student. It may mean reaching out to a national hotline, like those listed below, for guidance. You may also find it helpful to reach out to a trusted counselor, doctor, or mental health professional.
To learn more about domestic violence, please visit one of the following websites: National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Love Is Respect (National Dating Violence Hotline), National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, National Sexual Assault Hotline, and OneLove Foundation.
More than anything, have conversations with your student about their dating relationships! Help them learn to identify the qualities of a healthy relationship including: open communication, respectfulness, trust, honesty, equality, each partner enjoys personal time, and making mutual sexual choices. Not sure how to start this conversation? Use an example from popular media to ask about your student’s opinions on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships or try striking up a conversation during a car ride (you both will know there’s a natural end point!)
On campus, the Women’s Center is hosting the following events to raise awareness, provide prevention education, and connect students with resources about all forms of power-based interpersonal violence:
October 2 | 5:30pm | OneLove Escalation workshop
October 8 | OneLove Escalation workshop with Housing Staff
October 9 | 5:30 pm | Be BRAVE: Step UP bystander intervention workshop
October 16-17 | 10am -3pm | Clothesline Project T-Shirt making
October 21-24 | 9am-4pm | Clothesline Project and Tabling on Front Campus
October 21 | Bystander Intervention Workshop with Student Athletes
October 22 | 7 pm | Intimate Partner Violence in the LGBTQ+ Community
October 30 | 3:30 pm | OneLove Escalation workshop
For more information about any of our programs, please call 478-445-8519 or visit our events site.
Dr. Jennifer Graham
Director, Women’s Center
Planning Ahead for Housing Next Year
At this point in the semester, your student has discovered some of the amazing opportunities college life has to offer. We encourage you to keep an open dialog with your student to discuss the positive and negative consequences of the choices they make. This is especially important when it comes to signing a lease or a contract. Students are often unaware of the long-term implications of signing on the dotted line.
Believe it or not, some students are already locking themselves into a 12-month, off-campus lease for 2020! You do not have to rush into this important decision. University Housing will be renewing contracts for 2020 starting on December 1. Before your student commits to a contract, ask: “Did you read the fine print?” While the advertisements they are seeing may be attractive, it is important to remember that it is the small print that could have the most serious consequences.
University Housing knows that there is a lot more to a student's life than a bed and fancy amenities. It is our mission to connect students to all the resources Georgia College has to offer. We keep students and their families connected to what they need.
December 1, 2019 - University Housing 2020-21 application opens
January 13, 2020 - Deadline for residents in upperclass-designated spaces to renew rooms
January 15, 2020 - Open room selection 2020-21 opens
FAFSA: Yes, you have to do it again!
The FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid - is the national form for determining financial aid eligibility. It doesn't automatically renew, so college students and their families seeking assistance in the form of federal work study, state aid like HOPE, institutional scholarships at GC, and other sources of funding must complete a new FAFSA with their family's updated tax information each year.
Thankfully, it gets easier! Your students will receive a renewal FAFSA with much of their information pre-filled. You will need your two most recent tax returns to complete the FAFSA. Though there are rolling deadlines for completing the FAFSA, aim for the January 1 deadline to ensure the fastest processing of awards for next year's aid.