Tips from Other Parents

We've gathered tips and advice from seasoned Northwestern parents and graduating seniors. Here are some things to keep in mind throughout your student's college career.

Stay in touch

Keep in touch, even if you're not hearing much from your student. An e-mail a week, a phone call, or a box of cookies makes your son or daughter aware of your continuing support. The greatest need for contact with home is likely to come during the early weeks of the quarter, during times of greatest academic pressure, and during any crisis.


Listen to your student. Your son or daughter will probably make at least one “dump” call when you will hear nothing but complaints. Often, just talking about the problem makes your student feel better and ready to move on, even if you are left drained. Most of all, students want to know that you understand their feelings and the stress of being a student.

Don't obsess about grades

Don't ask about grades all the time. The adjustment to Northwestern's academic demands takes time, and midterm grades may not be indicative of a freshman's future work. Sometimes it takes several quarters before a student realizes the amount and quality of study time he or she needs.

Encourage your student to get involved

Encourage your student to get involved in at least one activity during freshman year. It doesn't matter what the activity is as long as he or she has a feeling of connection to other students and to the community. Some suggestions include getting involved in residence hall activities, joining a religious organization, volunteering for student community services, or working on Dance Marathon.

Get involved yourself

Stay involved in Northwestern. Check out the NewsCenter ; read the student newspaper; visit your student during Family Weekend or another time; subscribe to the parents' listserv.

Know when to ask for help

If you are concerned about a situation, remember that you can always call an administrator in Student Affairs and share your concern. That administrator often can give you suggestions on how to deal with the problem and ease your mind.

Know whom to ask for help

Refer your son or daughter to the assistant or associate dean in his or her school if there is concern about a particular adviser, class, or professor or the need for tutoring. If there are serious family or health problems, your student should contact the dean of students. If you have a question or concern, or if there is a family emergency, you may always call the dean of students at 847-491-8430.

Know when not to ask for help

At the same time, don't try to always “fix it” for your student. As young adults, students need to seek out solutions for themselves. After talking to someone in Student Affairs, you can always give your son or daughter suggestions for working things out.

Keep roommate problems in perspective

Don't react hastily to roommate concerns. It often takes several months for roommates to adjust to one another. However, don't let serious problems go too long. If a roommate violates your student's space or comfort in the room, insist that your son or daughter talk to a resident adviser or a professional staff person in University Residential Life . Remember: you can always make a confidential call to a staff person.

Advise persistence

Urge your student not to give up if a class is closed at registration. Some students are able to enroll by going to the first or second day of class and waiting for someone to drop out.

Encourage your student to explore Chicago

Encourage your student to get to know one of the world's greatest cities with a group of friends. From the Art Institute to professional sports, from gourmet restaurants to ethnic storefronts, Chicago has something for everyone.