Why is my student struggling?

At Southwestern College, we are fortunate to have a wellness coordinator, Mary Ann Smith LMSW. (  She works with students who may struggle with their adjustment to college and experience anxiety during this time of independence and growth. She frequently advises parents to trust their own wisdom, experience and guidance in supporting your maturing young adult.

Here are some of the issues that your student might face:

  • Difficulty adjusting
  • Navigating the college campus and local community
  • Learning a different cultural community
  • Missing home (parents, siblings, smells, and comforts)
  • Dealing with academic pressures
  • Balancing academic, social, relationships and activities
  • Resisting peer pressures and social climate
  • Frustration with anticipation versus reality of college life
  • Living up to personal and parental expectations and values
  • Negotiating a new environment
  • Managing money and financial pressures

During this time, the best thing a parent can do is be supportive, reassuring and encouraging.  As parents, you may wonder what is going on. Please know this is a common concern.  In fact, facing issues like those above is an important part of your child’s maturing process.  If you have concerns about your young adult, don’t hesitate to contact college staff at any time.

Unfortunately, it might be difficult to always understand what is happening with your student.  They are not living with you and may not express or share the nature of what is going on.   According to MacKay and Ingram in Let the Journey Begin: A Parents’ Monthly Guide to the College Experience, here are some suggestions for helping your student.  

Communicate by asking questions such as “what happened today?” or “what has been doing on these last few days?”  Make sure that you encourage them to talk in-depth and not with surface responses.

Persuade them to work to their best ability and not overly stress themselves to over-exertion.  Encourage them to utilize the various campus resources such as counseling, academic support, advisors and student life staff.  This additional campus support can be essential to them dealing with rough times.   

Suggest that they attend the Fall Frenzy Events at the beginning of the year  It is a fun way to meet other students and participate in all the welcome week activities.   The Jinx Tale (daily campus email) and The Collegian (student newspaper) are excellent resources for campus events as well.  Find more information at

Recommend that they communicate with their resident student advisor (RA) or residence hall director (RD).  These in-hall residence staff members are there to support and encourage your student. If the issue is regarding their roommate or other hall issues, advise them to communication their concerns to their RA or RD.          

Advise that they meet their professor during their faculty hours and ask questions regarding academic concerns and challenges.  

Advocate that they seek a tutor or study group with other students.

The Financial Aid office can assist you with financing your student’s college degree. The counselors may show you options, strategies, and problem solving.

Whatever the issue and the manner in which you deal with the issue, it is important to show patience with their change in behavior.  In addition, continue to communicate with them and monitor their behavior.   Most likely, your student can work through their problem.  But occasionally, they might need help.  The college has abundant resources to assist you.  You should feel free to communication with the college about your concerns and let us help you and your student.

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