A Guide for Parents of an Algonquin Student
College life can be exciting and full of opportunities. It can also be stressful and challenging.
We hope that your son or daughter will grow and change throughout his or her time at Algonquin. We hope that they will acquire new skills and knowledge, make lifelong friends, and engage in new pursuits. Your son or daughter will also likely develop a sense of independence and self-sufficiency as they discover and define themselves as a unique person. The college environment helps promote this personal growth by insisting that students take responsibility for their education, while allowing for a level of independence and a reduction in structure that may be very new.
As a parent, you can enjoy these changes by listening and celebrating your son’s or daughter’s successes, achievements, and growth.
We know that students often face personal pressures in addition to the usual stresses of college life. Pressures such as being away from home for the first time, transitioning to a new type of learning environment, finding a balance between work and personal responsibilities, or mapping out a satisfying career path.
How You Can Help
Let your son or daughter know that you welcome hearing from him or her and that you are interested in knowing how things are going. College is stressful and it is helpful for all students to know that someone out there understands and cares about their struggles.
Talk to your son or daughter and ask how things are going. Spend time listening, offer support, and show you care. You might notice changes in their behaviour or mood. Tell them what you see. Parents have found this conversation easier when they keep the following in mind:
- Listen to your son or daughter; be patient and give them your full attention
- Acknowledge your son’s or daughter’s concern and feelings
- Express concern without judging or making assumptions
- Offer hope by providing reassurance that things can get better and helping them see they have options and resources
Recognize the Signs of Distress
You can expect that your son or daughter may feel stress and fatigue from time
to time. However, for some students, this stress can accumulate and overwhelm
their coping strategies. When this happens, students feel overwhelmed and start
to show signs that academic stress that may be impacting their mental health and wellness. You may notice an unusual degree of:
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and classmates
- Loss of interest, lack of energy, or difficulty concentrating
- A sudden drop in grades; missed assignments
- Disruption to sleeping or eating patterns
More advanced signs that your son or daughter may be in distress:
- Disruptive or unusual behaviour or emotional outbursts
- Complaints about physical symptoms, including nausea, stomach aches, headaches, or significant problems with eating or sleeping
- Marked changes in personal hygiene
- Excessive use of alcohol/recreational drugs/ internet use/gaming
Facilitate coping by encouraging your son or daughter to seek help though one of the college’s student support services. Encourage him or her to contact the service directly to meet with a support professional. If you are unsure which of Algonquin’s many support services is most appropriate for your son’s or daughter’s needs, the Student Support Services’ Welcome Centre is a good start. The Welcome Centre can be found on the 3rd Floor of the Student Commons, or contacted at 613-727-4723 ext. 7200.
If you think that your son or daughter may be in danger or at risk of seriously injuring themselves (a list of Crisis Support Resources can be found here), contact Algonquin College Safety, Security & Emergency Management at 613-727-4723 ext. 5000 or call 911.