Students on the campus of Adelphi Univeristy in Garden City. College...

Students on the campus of Adelphi Univeristy in Garden City. College is a different world from high school, even for good students. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Soon your child will head off to college. They are fulfilling their dream — and maybe yours, too.

College is a different world from high school, even for good students. Classes will be harder, instructors' expectations different. Your child will be learning to live on their own, finding a social scene, and taking care of many details like managing a meal plan.

It takes time for most college students to figure this out, especially first-generation students.

But what if your child struggles in that first semester, before they have a chance to learn those lessons? One of five students withdraws temporarily or drops out of college after their first year; only about 60% graduate within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Your child should know that while they will be living independently, they will not be on their own. Colleges recognize that a key part of their mission is to help students through financial, social and academic emergencies. But students need to know to ask.

With a few conversations this summer, you can give your child a head start on learning the strategies and resources they can use to persevere.

If a college senior gets off to a bad start in a class, they know they have options. They could ask their professor or teaching assistant whether they could boost their grade with an additional assignment. They could check in with an adviser to see whether this is the right class for them. If the answer is no and there is still time, they might switch classes. Or they could reach out to the academic support center where trained professionals can help them get on track.

Many first-year students don’t know that professors welcome this sort of outreach. Such students might be intimidated to enter a support center.

Talk about how it’s OK to ask for help.

Financial stress is a major reason students drop out. Have you had a detailed conversation about budgeting yet? If not, this is the time.

Who is making sure tuition bills are paid, you or your child? What is the plan to pay those bills? What other financial support, if any, will you provide your child when they are at college? If your child calls in November to ask for $500 because they have run out of pocket money, what will you say?

Research together what resources the college provides if your child runs into a financial emergency — especially if you have limited backup funds.

Homesickness is real, and keeps some students from fully engaging in class or campus life. Ask your child if they are experiencing anxiety about attending college or living away from home. Locate resources available on campus before your child leaves home.

Resident assistants are trained to notice aberrant behavior among at-risk students and make certain they receive help to better acclimate to college life.

Make sure your child knows there is a counseling office if they need to talk. Reassure them that making an appointment isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.

Save the resources you find in an easy-to-find place, like a Google document.

No matter how prepared, your child will face challenges. They need to know that there are experts on campus — professors, advisers, financial aid officers, student life officers, and counselors — dedicated to helping them meet those challenges. They just have to ask.

This guest essay reflects the views of Diann Cameron Kelly, associate provost for student success at Adelphi University.

This guest essay reflects the views of Diann Cameron Kelly, associate provost for student success at Adelphi University.

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