Bobcat Families

The Georgia College Parent and Family Newsletter

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"How Are You Going to Handle That?"

Greetings from the Office of Parent and Family Programs!

Your student has survived the month of August! Whether it was the start of your student's first semester of college or their "last first day of school," for all of you, it was probably just as bittersweet as all of their firsts. With each milestone, they become more independent, but they never outgrow their need for your support. You were their first teachers, and you will continue to teach them well into adulthood.

I've heard many parents allude to "working oneself out of a job" -- parenting in such a way that their adult children can stand on their own two feet. Ideally, in these four years, your student becomes so independent that they don't have to rely on you. That doesn't mean you are obsolete, but it should mean that you offer guidance without calling all the plays.

As I wrote in the August newsletter, I do not expect parents of freshmen to flip a switch, going instantly from project managers to offsite consultants in their children's lives. During the first year of college, you are in transition. Likewise, achieving independence is a journey for students. How can you do your part to get them from their current developmental stage to being ready to function on their own by graduation? Practice this phrase and deploy it when they call with a problem: "How are you going to handle that?"

Your student is already capable of handling almost any problem that comes their way. In fact, parental intervention in many college-related issues is often ineffective (due to the limitations presented by FERPA and policies designed to protect student privacy) or even detrimental to the situation. As perennial teachers, parents must realize that learning happens in everyday events. If a student is never challenged, they will never learn.

Cognitively, college students are in between adolescence and adulthood. They are able to think rationally and solve complex problems, but those functions require a lot of work! When your student calls home with a complaint or a problem, keep a few things in mind:

  • Often they are just venting. They don't want you to jump to action; they only want reassurance.
  • They are probably seeking advice. Challenge them to think through solutions before offering your own. Collaboration will bring about the best results.
  • If they are asking for your intervention, verify that they have exhausted their options before inserting yourself. Sometimes saying, "after you try ____, I'll see what I can do" is the perfect compromise. That one step could bring about the solution they needed.

As with all advice for college parenting, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some students may have been ready to fly on their own when you dropped them off, leaving you feeling unneeded. Others need more guidance, making you wonder if you've done enough to support their independence along the way. In any case, parents must feel their way as they go. Assess where your student is in their journey. Help them take incremental steps toward self-sufficiency. Don't be afraid to let them stumble; they know they have a supportive foundation to lean on when they really need it.

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Click here to register for Family Weekend!

Family Weekend registration is open through September 18! The cost of registration is $35 per adult and $15 for children under 10.

Spotlight on The GIVE Center

Greetings from The GIVE (GC Inspiring Volunteers to Engage) Center! My name is Kendall Stiles and I am the Senior Director of Community Engagement and Service at Georgia College.

Community Engagement and Service is one of the pillars at Georgia College. Annually, we work with over 2,500 students who will perform and track over 50,000 service hours. It is amazing to see students engage in this way and makes a huge impact in our community.

We are so excited that we are part of the festivities of this year's Family Weekend. We have a fun service project scheduled to give you a taste of the ways GC students engage through the GIVE Center. We will be participating in a land and river clean-up from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 28 at the Oconee Greenway. The Oconee Greenway is a beautiful, family-friendly (including your four-legged furry family members) green space located in Baldwin County. The Oconee Greenway is less than a mile from the Georgia College campus.

We hope that you and your family will decide to join us that afternoon. A few helpful suggestions are to wear comfortable clothes that you could get dirty or wet and closed-toe shoes. We will be providing water and snacks, gloves, and trash bags. For more information about this event or any GIVE Center programs, please contact me at or at 478-445-5936.

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Building Community in Your Community

We talk endlessly about the importance of getting involved in college. Making meaningful connections to the institution and to peers within the first six weeks is key to student success. But what about the students who struggle to engage? Introversion, anxiety, or just plain shyness can make getting involved a really difficult task. That's where the residential community comes in. Here, the involvement comes to them.

Your student's CA will host several social and educational programs throughout the semester right inside their building. Students don't have to join a club -- they're already members! Outside of scheduled programs, there are lots of easy ways students can build community around them. When they are studying or hanging out in their room, they should prop the door open to greet people passing by. For a change of scenery, they can study in a lounge or laundry room. To really ingratiate themselves to their neighbors, hollering down the hall, "my mom made cookies!!" will have new friends running.

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Emily Jarvis is the director of parent and family programs at Georgia College. She holds an ABJ and MA from the University of Georgia. Her professional experience in higher education includes the areas of international education, residence life, student conduct, and parent and family engagement.