Families & Friends

We’ve prepared some tips to help you support your student in their transition to college:

1. Listen
Attending college for the first time, coming back after an absence, or changing colleges is a big transition. Many of our students are juggling full time work, family, college and other responsibilities. It can be stressful, and sometimes students just need to vent. You can support your student by listening as they adjust to this new, exciting, and sometimes stressful chapter in their life.

2. Engage
Engage with your student’s education by asking them about their classes, celebrating their successes, and listening to their concerns. Having someone to talk to can relieve stress, and it can also be motivating. Watch your student light up while talking about their favorite subject, and offer support and encouragement when things are tough. Regardless of your own education experience, you likely have valuable advice to help your student as they pursue their unique path.

3. Encourage self-advocacy
Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for yourself, ask for what you need, and make important decisions that affect your life. It is one of the most important life skills a person can have, and college is a great place to develop that skill. GCC offers many support resources, but it is up to the student to advocate for their needs. Encourage your student to reach out to their professors, advisor, and campus resources.

Sometimes well-intentioned gestures of support can prevent someone from developing self-advocacy skills. It can be tempting to make a phone call or write an email on behalf of your student. We encourage you to instead assist your student in reaching out themselves. You can support your student by familiarizing yourself with GCC’s resources by exploring our website, and encouraging your student to initiate contact with faculty, staff, and resources.

4. Familiarize yourself with FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act)
While faculty and staff at the college are always happy to talk with you about your concerns and questions, FERPA limits the information we can share with you about your student. FERPA protects the rights of students and philosophically we want to encourage students to become more autonomous and self reliant. It is often productive to have conversations with your students about what information they will be willing to share with you. For example, grades go directly to the students and we are unable to share information with you about your student’s grades. Discuss in advance how you and your student will share information.