2013-08-30 / Family

Ready for campus life

Orientation leaders encourage parents to support, not stifle, college students
By Stephanie Guzman

NEW YEAR—Students walk on the campus of California State University Channel Islands on Aug. 27. Classes began at the Camarillo university on Monday. 
IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers NEW YEAR—Students walk on the campus of California State University Channel Islands on Aug. 27. Classes began at the Camarillo university on Monday. IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers Jae Park, a senior at California Lutheran University, will greet more than 800 freshmen and transfer students when they descend on the Thousand Oaks campus for orientation tomorrow.

Park will spend the day sharing the best places to eat on campus, stories of dorm life and which professors to avoid.

It’s all insider information that Park said freshmen want to know.

He’ll also talk about the downside of college, including homesickness and having to learn time management skills quickly in order to succeed.

Park, a music major, oversees CLU’s student orientation with two other upperclassmen.

The three students work with 48 peer advisers, also upperclassmen, who will show freshmen and transfer students the ropes of campus life this weekend.

While some local colleges have already begun classes— Moorpark College started Aug. 19 and California State University Channel Islands classes started Monday—CLU will hold its orientation this weekend before classes start Wednesday.

College orientations aren’t just for students, though. It’s also a time when parents are taught how to let go of their college-bound kids.

Homesick and lonely

Park, a 21-year-old from Torrance, said freshman college students are nervous about tougher classes and making friends, but the No. 1 problem on-campus students face during the first semester is loneliness.

“When students step on this campus, they want to seem tough and ready to leave home, but a lot of students feel homesick within a couple of months,” Park said.

One way students can ward off homesickness is to join academic and social groups within the first few weeks of school.

Park said students should join a school organization to make friends and get involved in campus activities to find their niche.

That’s easier said than done for shy students, said Kristin Price, associate director of student life at CLU.

“A lot of students, especially those who solely focus on school, have a hard time and stay in their dorm rooms because they’re nervous about meeting new people,” Price said. “But they forget it took years to develop their friendships in high school, and making new friends is not going to happen overnight.”

She said parents should encourage their children, including students who live at home and commute, to make new friends and find club opportunities at their college.

On their own

Parents with extroverted children may lose sleep worrying about college parties and the freedom students experience being away from chaperones.

Price said students may take advantage of their newfound freedom, but they’ll quickly learn their limitations.

“They learn to balance their time and make the right decision when a bunch of friends are going out late at night for a food run but they need to stay in and do homework,” Price said.

Park, who said his parents trust him to behave well in school, encourages parents to trust their children.

He said parents and students should set check-in times so mom and dad know their child is safe but the student doesn’t feel stifled.

Many resources

Neil Rocklin, one of three therapists for CSUCI’s counseling services, said parents shouldn’t meddle in conflicts with roommates or a decision to drop a class.

Rocklin, a clinical psychologist, offered that advice during CSUCI’s parent orientation last weekend.

“Parents want to jump in and advocate for their child, but the student must learn to advocate for themselves and resolve conflicts,” Rocklin said.

He said parents should listen to their child’s concerns then direct them to on-campus resources, such as resident advisers or counseling services.

Though parents have a hard time letting go of their children as they enter the next phase of their lives, Rocklin said, parents should understand most college students do just fine.

“Students who come to the university are motivated and goal-oriented,” Rocklin said. “Parents will be surprised that (students) will rise to the occasion and be very successful.”

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