Our monthly conversation starters help parents navigate conversations with their students throughout the academic year. Most questions are generic, open-ended questions that follow the timeline of the academic calendar. These are intended to merely serve as a guide to connecting with students and should not be used as a task list. Parents are encouraged to actively listen first and then advise if asked.
Still curious? Feel free to add "is there anything else" to any of these conversation starters in hopes your student may further open up.
What is it like living in the residence hall?
- Residence hall activities
Students come to college with expectations. After the first few weeks, encourage your student to reevaluate their goals and expectations to be challenging, yet obtainable.
Encourage your student to use the Roommate Agreement provided by University Housing staff to negotiate study hours, cleaning responsibilities, sleeping habits, visiting hours, etc. This resource will be useful should a conflict arise in the future.
Remind your student that their roommate does not always have to be their best friend and that this relationship is more successful when built on mutual respect and compromise.
Where do you spend your time outside the classroom?
- Study space and time
- Clubs and organizations
- Free time
Students should be actively engaged in academic pursuits outside of the classroom for two hours for each one hour in class per week.
For example, if your student is in a three-credit English course that meets three times a week, for one hour each day, they should be spending approximately six hours per week outside of class working on this course by way of studying, reading, writing, tutorials and/or group study sessions.
Are you connecting with new people?
- Wolfpack Welcome Week
- New students and professors in classes
- Meal times
Students do not have to be extroverted to connect with others at NC State. Encourage your student to find their niche. Whether it is through a club or organization during Wolfpack Welcome Week, a group study session or gathering with suitemates for meals. The NC State community can be as big, or as small, as one desires as there are many opportunities for students to create their own networks.
How are you feeling? How can I support you this semester?
- Academic challenge/rigor
- Time management
The first semester of college is an exciting, but challenging time. Students look forward to starting a new curriculum but can quickly feel overwhelmed by the amount of time and effort needed to be successful in each course.
It is important to make sure that students do not feel burnt out or overwhelmed by academic pressure. Checking in after a few weeks to see how your student is feeling about the new structure and discussing options for how to either adjust and maximize time spent per class can be a helpful conversation to have at this point in the semester.
What are a few of your favorite spots on or around campus?
- Navigating campus
- Dining preference and frequency
Whether your student is a first-year or a fourth-year, getting (re) adjusted to campus can take some time. Check-in with your student about navigating classes, finding favorite places to study and being extra cautious on those bricks!
It is also a good time to finally ask if the is food as good as everyone said. Are there that many options? Get the inside scoop from your favorite student.
Engage your student with these initial questions and then let the conversation take its course to gain more insight into how your student is adjusting to life on campus.
How is your community of friends doing? Are you reconnecting with and/or meeting new people?
- Meeting new people
- Reconnecting with friends
- Staying in touch
After the plethora of Wolfpack Welcome Week activities, chances are your student has met quite a few new people and perhaps even seen a few familiar faces. Talk with your student about building relationships, meeting new people and staying connected with friends who may be far away or even those at home.
Relationships are an important aspect of personal growth and encouraging your student to nurture their social connections will help them establish a healthy balance between life in and outside of the classroom.
Have you had your flu shot?
- Health services
- Clinic contact: 919.515.2563
In the midst of students’ hectic schedules, they can easily forget to get their flu shot. What many don’t realize is how important getting a flu shot can be. Even more, particularly, for those in college as living in tight quarters and sharing close interactions can, unfortunately, lead to the quick spread of germs.
For this reason, NC State’s Student Health Center offers flu vaccinations every fall. Encourage your student to visit the Student Health Center for their vaccine or click here for more information.
What are your plans for fall break?
- Campus activities
- Alternative Service Break
- Career Development Center
Fall Break is an exciting time for students as they begin to explore new social circles and expand their interests through a variety of student organizations and new activities.
One such organization, Student Leadership and Civic Engagement offer an Alternative Service Break (ASB). ASB is a unique learning experience in which students engage in direct service to the community while being immersed in the culture.
These are life-changing and memorable experiences that inspire students to continue and strengthen their devotion to service by participating in service-oriented opportunities on campus. Encourage your student to take advantage of these many opportunities.
Fall Break is an especially good time for students to explore their career directions by learning about majors, minors, internships, co-ops and career choices. The Career Development Center offers online, group and personal assistance to provide guidance in the decision-making process.
Have you talked to any of your friends from home?
- Old/new friends
- Social adjustment
Fall is a time when many high school relationships begin to experience distress. These losses, or perceived losses, can take a toll on students, both socially and academically.
Students experiencing such stressors should seek assistance so that they can maintain other relationships and talk about their feelings.
There are over 700+ student organizations at NC State! Encourage your student to seek new activities to get involved in and continue to make new connections and friends.
Do you have many midterms or upcoming projects due?
- Effective study methods
- Tutorial Center
- Work-life balance
Midterm exams at NC State tend to fall around the 8-week mark each semester. This is an excellent opportunity for students to gauge how effective their study habits have been thus far in the semester. This is also a time to assess where they might need to amend their time so they can be more successful.
Parents should seize this opportunity to discuss with their students how they are feeling about their coursework and whether or not they have established a balance between social and academic commitments.
Encourage your student to visit the University Tutorial Center for any additional assistance and remind them to utilize NC State support services and resources.
How are you taking care of yourself?
- Time management
As the halfway point of the semester approaches, students often have several midterm exams and/or paper deadlines. This is a busy part of the semester so you may notice your student struggling or feeling stressed. It is preeminent that you support your student through this challenging period.
How are you doing?
It’s important to check in with your student on personal, academic and social levels. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions! Remember to actively listen to your student. You know your student best, so if they appear to be struggling, encourage them to seek help.
Signs your student may be experiencing stress:
- Withdrawal from social activities and interaction
- Difficulty enjoying life
- Mention of loss of sleep or appetite
- Failure to enjoy even leisure activities
- Expressions of feeling worthless or thoughts of self-harm
Are you feeling overwhelmed?
The University Counseling Center has walk-in appointments available daily. Please encourage your student to call 919.515.2423 or visit Campus Health.
- Encourage your student to seek help
- Inquire about their self-care practices
- Share the Wellness Resources
Throughout the year, but particularly as the end of the semester is approaching, it is important for students to practice self-care. With finals quickly approaching, many students may feel overwhelmed with projects, exams and even planning for the next semester. Make time to connect and check in with your student. Go beyond a text, set aside time for a video call or Facetime. If you are nearby, reach out and ask them if they would be open to a lunch or dinner date. If you know or suspect that your student is struggling, take time to learn about the myriad of resources available to your student and push them to seek the help they need.
For additional parent resources please visit https://counseling.dasa.ncsu.edu/resources/for-parents/.
We love you no matter what.
- Positive feedback
- Academic encouragement
Parents offer positive feedback and academic encouragement throughout the year. Many students will experience rejection or failures, that they have not before, so it is critical to learn how to effectively cope so they can grow from experiences.
If there are any indications of academic struggle, encourage your student to talk to their advisor and come up with a “game plan” for the Spring semester.
How is (name of your student’s club/organization) going?
- Union Activities Board
- Stress management
November is a great time to check in with how your student is doing socially. If your student has mentioned a new club or activity, or even a new friend, take the time to ask them how things are going. Engage in conversations about these new interests. It is crucial that students feel supported both socially and academically.
Have your values or beliefs been challenged or changed at all?
- Social circles
- New changes
When your student comes home for breaks, you will recognize that your student has undergone a multitude of developmental changes. The college experience is intended to bring about positive change for intellectual, social, physical, emotional and cultural growth.
This development may also inspire change in your student’s values. It is helpful for parents to have an understanding of these changes.
How do you feel about final projects and upcoming exams?
- Stress and self-help resources
- Study skills
- Academic Success Center
- Take time to relax!
It is normal for students to feel more stressed and burned out than usual as we approach the end of the semester. Fortunately, there are things students can do to manage their stress as they prepare for their final exams. Encourage your student to review the information provided by the Counseling Center to help them better cope with the overwhelming stress of final exams.
Time management, self-care and balance can sometimes be a challenge for students during final exams. Take time to have a conversation with your student to learn what strategies work best for your student’s stress management and encourage them to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and nutritious diet so they are resting and refueling to avoid burnout. As the semester wraps up, there are a variety of upcoming special events, including Destress Fest hosted by Wellness and Recreation, to help students unwind during this stressful season.
It is critical to stress the importance of academic integrity with your student. Stress can lead students to feel the need for an “easy way out.” If your student is struggling, help them identify alternatives such as talking with professors about deadline extensions, taking an incomplete, etc. To learn more take a few minutes to read the Academic Integrity: Overview and Code of Student Conduct and Grade Exclusion
What are your plans for Winter Break?
- Family time
- Connecting with old friends
- House rules/expectations
Parents and family members look forward to seeing students over winter break and most often students are excited to return home! However, sometimes the expectations are often divided. For students, this is a time to visit with family and friends from home, catch up on sleep; eat a home-cooked meal, and maintain their freedom to come and go as they please without the stress of classes and homework. For parents, the expectations of time spent together, house rules, curfew, and overall expectations of parents are different. Discuss with your student, in advance, their plans and goals for the break. This can help parents and students avoid conflict and make for a more peaceful holiday visit.
Are you facing new challenges or stressors this semester?
- Reflecting on the fall semester
- Planning ahead to the spring semester
- Self-Care Activities
With the end of the semester approaching, students may begin to struggle with academic burnout. Although they have gained various new experiences and highlights throughout the semester they may have faced new challenges such as taking a difficult course, not being compatible with their roommate(s) or discovering what self-care looks like for them. Encourage your student to continue practicing self-care by prioritizing time to destress. This can look like going on a walk, reading a book, or hanging out with friends. It is important to continue to have open conversations and communication to check in on how your student is doing mentally. As well as sharing essential resources such as the Counseling Center, and Academic Success Center, and reminding them of the importance of meeting with professors during office hours. Practicing self-care and utilizing the resources on campus are beneficial habits for your student to incorporate into their schedules and continue practicing in the upcoming Spring 2023 semester.
Financial planning for the fall
- Financial Aid
- Scholarship application(s)
- Bill review
- Loan repayment
If your student is graduating in May, they will need to spend time meeting with someone in the Cashier’s Office to review their final bill to ensure that they do not have any outstanding or unknown charges that could keep them from receiving their diploma (i.e., library book or tech equipment). If your student borrowed any loans, they would need to begin looking at loan repayment options sooner rather than later. This can be a daunting task that often has many question marks, so have your student contact the Office of Financial Aid to get the ball rolling on this process.
Have you filed the 2023 – 2024 FAFSA? The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is made available each October 1. All students who wish to be considered for federal aid, as well as state and institutional need-based financial aid, must submit a FAFSA. Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after it opens on October 1. Students should submit the FAFSA and any possible additional documentation as early as possible since financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Students who submit a FAFSA by the priority filing date (Feb. 1) are given first consideration for need-based grant assistance offered by the university. The FAFSA is free; therefore we recommend taking advantage of this resource.
What scholarships are you applying for? Students can also apply for scholarships through the university’s PACK ASSIST tool. The application for the 2022-23 school year opened on December 1 for continuing students. Applications submitted before February 15 will be given first consideration for scholarships.
What are your goals for this semester?
- Starting strong
- Course Schedule
- Extracurricular activities
The new semester brings opportunities to make resolutions for growth and change. If last semester’s grades did not meet expectations, continue to support your student in a way that allows them to identify possible problems and discuss plans for improvement for the spring semester. This is also a time for students to begin thinking about their summer. Encourage your student to start seeking internship opportunities or even register for summer session courses.
What resources do you plan to connect with? Perhaps, your student has adjusted well to the academic rigor of the university and is now eager to get more involved on campus. Ask your student about their involvement on campus. Encourage them to check out some of the 600+ student organizations, the Study Abroad Office as well as the Office of Undergraduate Research. Another essential recourse is ePack where students can search for internship and job opportunities. If your student is a first-year student, it’s vital to have these conversations now to lay the foundation for activity planning and engagement in the future.
How are things going in your residence hall/apartment/house?
- Living arrangements (i.e., roommates, schedules, etc.)
Students living on-campus negotiate and sign a roommate agreement every fall that outlines expectations each may have for sharing a room, such as quiet hours, when to have visitors, etc. As each semester changes, so will the routine and expectations of roommates; using the beginning of the semester to renegotiate their “agreement” may ward off potential conflicts down the road.
If your student is living off-campus, they may face many of the same issues. However, the autonomy of living off-campus also means not having a structured system in place to forge roommate agreements or conversations about such expectations. Communication is the key to living with peers. Check-in with your student and follow up about any issues or concerns.
Be supportive and encouraging, but allow them to lead the conversation with both you and their roommates. Sometimes what sounds like a bad living arrangement is more the stress of a new schedule or a challenging class as students further develop coping mechanisms and problem resolution.
If your student is planning to move off campus or currently living in a bad living arrangement, encourage your student to talk to Student Legal Services about reviewing leases and discussing their options.
Are you planning to live on campus in the fall?
- Room Application Process
- Choosing to live off-campus for the first time
- Roommate Selection
Ask your student whether they are planning to live with a roommate. If so, discuss how your student is planning to select their roommate. Be sure to visit University Housing for more information on room selection and helpful tips on completing this process.
All students are expected to complete the University Housing roommate, suite-mate or apartment-mate agreement when they move into on-campus housing. This agreement ensures that each individual’s rights are respected and that roommates have discussed their expectations while sharing a room.
If your student is planning on living off-campus, ask whether they have found off-campus housing yet. For more information on apartments and houses in the area, be sure to check out Off-Campus Housing. Before your student signs a lease (a legally binding document) have them contact Student Legal Service to review the document to make sure your student understands what they are signing.
Check in with your student to see if they need any assistance finding a roommate or housing. NC State has a multitude of resources including Living and Learning Villages and several other resident resources to aid in this process.
How are you spending your Wellness Day?
- Campus Resources
February 16 is a designated Wellness Day for the university which is perfectly timed since February is typically when classes start to pick up the pace. The full swing of the semester can impose lots of stress on students. Whether it be the stress of classes, exams, social or personal life, etc. there are a lot of stressors and it is very easy for students to become overwhelmed.
One of the most important practices during these stressful times is self-care. Even though we all have hectic schedules, it is critical to take some time out of the day to focus on yourself. Check in with your student to ensure they are finding appropriate ways to take care of themselves. Whether it is going on a walk, reading a book or exercising at the gym; it is important to find balance and make time for things other than coursework and academics. Students should also look for organizations on campus to get involved and meet new people. Being engaged means going beyond the classroom and experiencing the community. NC State has hundreds of clubs and organizations for students to take advantage of.
Encourage your student to spend their Wellness Day engaging in self-care and exploring some of the many resources campus has to offer:
- Crafternoons are designated activities for NC State students at NC State’s Crafts Center. Students can learn how to create their own hot glass beads, cups or bowls with the pottery wheel or create a unique stamp. There is an activity for all interests, no prior experience is required!
- Get Involved is where students can search for clubs and organizations on campus. This is a great way for students to find a group of people they share interests with.
- Pack Talk is a blog written by student leaders in the Office of Parents and Families. They give the student perspective and share their personal experience on a wide variety of topics including daily campus life, community engagement, connecting with home, managing stress, mental health, and more!
- Prevention Services offers drop-in spaces for students to connect with others and get support. These spaces often rotate topics and conversations, many of which partner with other campus resources to connect students.
- University Activities Board has activities throughout the week for students to attend. These activities range from self-care with plants to exciting trivia and game nights.
- University Libraries are home to a variety of important resources like the Academic Success Center. Students are also able to reserve study rooms for themselves, with friends, or to work on a group project with classmates. The library not only offers study rooms but also data workstations, media spaces and VR workstations.
- Wellness and Recreation offers group fitness classes ranging from restorative yoga to cardio and strength training. These classes are a great way to destress and meet new people.
Let’s talk about Spring Break.
- Spring Break Planning and Safety
- Activities and Expectations
- Staying Motivated
With Spring Break approaching quickly, NC State students have a variety of options and preferences on how to spend this time. From working hard to laying low with family; traveling with friends or having the unique experience of an alternative service break. This is a time for students to pause and take a much-needed break in the middle of a busy semester.
Take time to talk with your students in advance about what they need to de-stress and reset during this period. Inquire beforehand about any potential plans they may have in the works and openly discuss any concerns or expectations. If your student is traveling near or far, safety is an important discussion. Take time to outline a plan in the event of an emergency well in advance so you and your student can be prepared.
Spring Break is also an excellent time to check in with your student about how their semester is going. Whether this is their first, second or final semester at State, each schedule is met with its own set of stressors, successes, and individual experiences. Be mindful to warn them of “spring break malaise.” This is not an uncommon experience for even the strongest students, where if they are not careful they may struggle to get back into the swing of things after a week of rest and relaxation. Discuss being aware of the malaise and suggest strategies that will help them avoid it before getting back to classes. Methods such as keeping a to-do list or planner, maintaining their current sleep schedule or even making a plan for their return to classes and setting goals for finishing the year strong are all ways to make re-entry to classes less of a challenge.
Looking ahead to the fall semester, what classes or opportunities do you plan to take?
- Meeting with their advisor
- Registration and Course Selection
- Fall Planning
While the fall semester is still a few months away, planning for most, begins now. Advising for fall-semester registration actually opens in early March so students should begin mapping out their plans for fall sooner rather than later.
Before registering for classes, students must meet with their academic advisor. Advisors will typically send an email with sign-up options for advising appointments as early as February. The schedule for the following semester will be published early in March so students can see what courses are offered. To maximize academic advising appointments, encourage your student to write down any questions, concerns, and courses in advance. Students should also get familiar with the pack planner and degree audit. Doing so will allow them to plan out what courses they may want to take and in which semester, allowing students to plan many semesters in advance. This will help them to make the most of this appointment and stay on task. If your student hasn’t already, this is a great time for them to forge a relationship with their academic advisor who is knowledgeable about university resources that will help your student thrive.
Academic advising is available year-round and advisors do have office hours usually listed in the syllabus provided during the first week of classes. If your student is struggling at any time with courses or their career path, encourage your student to seek advising. This may feel uncomfortable for students at first but once they have pushed past this barrier they often find advisors to be a valuable asset in supporting their undergraduate journey. Students who are also thinking of changing their major should speak with their advisors and then review the Change of Degree Application (CODA).
Parents can learn more about course registration online on the Student Services website or encourage students to call their office with specific questions at 919.515.NCSU(6278).
How are things going?
- Academic Success Center
- Stress relief
As the midway point in the semester is marked, for students, March means midterms! A critical point in the spring semester, that may or may not be cause for additional stress and anxiety.
Midterms are a key indicator of academic progress. This progress looks different for each student and also for each course. Midterms offer reassurance to some but may serve as a reality check for others. If your student has done well, encourage them to keep up the good work. If they are struggling, encourage them and offer a listening ear to help them identify what some pitfalls may be and support them to make a plan. For most, there is still time to recover from disappointing midterm grades. Have a discussion with your student about the importance of utilizing the various resources and support programs on campus that can help them succeed. The university and professors offer a wide variety of resources to help students prepare for and succeed in their classes. Professors offer office hours throughout the semester (by appointment or drop-in) where your student can attend and ask any questions on problems they may have in their class or other academic problems they might be facing. Another valuable resource is the Academic Success Center which offers a wide array of academic support (for all students) including 1:1 tutoring for certain classes, drop-in tutoring, drop-in academic advising, and even wellness coaching. Additionally, a study group is an important strategy for enhancing learning during midterms as students talk through the subject, get new perspectives and compare notes and reinforce their understanding of the course material. Have your student visit Study Buddies for more information about creating study groups.
If your student needs any extra assistance in any course they feel is challenging, encourage them to take advantage of campus resources that will help them thrive academically.
NC State University has clubs and organizations for everyone’s interests. Ask your student if they have taken the time to visit the Get Involved or browse all the Club Sports opportunities. Making time for a club or sport will be beneficial to your student in various ways. This will help your student get out of their comfort zone to meet new people and make lifelong memories at NC State. It is also important for students to not only be a member of an organization but take advantage of leadership roles. Holding the position of president, secretary, treasurer or any other position will help your student gain transferable skills. As a student, it is important to partake in extracurriculars outside of the classroom. Joining an organization or club sport will also give your student some time to set away from school work and focus on something they are passionate about.
If your student is feeling stressed or showing signs of withdrawal, or anxiety or is simply not appearing as themselves, have a conversation about the importance of self-care strategies (eating healthy, getting enough sleep and physical activities) and coping mechanisms. If you or your student believe that additional help is needed, please contact Prevention Services or the Counseling Center for support.
Additionally, you can support your student from a distance during midterms with gift cards, a care package from Jasper College Packages or a special treat from Yates Mill Bakery to help boost their energy and morale. Be their cheerleader on the sidelines!
Let’s talk about Spring Break safety.
- Travel Plans
Spring Break at NC State is always an exciting time for students as there are many options to consider. Others are interested in Alternative Service Break (ASB), through their clubs and organizations on campus to travel the world to have a positive impact in another community through hands-on service projects.
If your student is venturing away from home with a friend, club or an outside organization; consider the following talking points as you discuss their Spring Break plans.
Communication Ask your student about their plan for communicating within the travel group and with you. Depending on where the student is, consider the options for calling, texting and internet access. Exchange contact information for hotel or other accommodations, emergency services at destination (911 doesn’t work in all countries) and contacts at the university.
Expectations Have a thorough conversation with your student about their expectations for the upcoming trip as well as your expectations for the trip. While your student is legally an adult, they still turn to you for support and advice; so it is essential to have an open conversation about alcohol use and abuse; stay healthy; make safe choices and have a plan of action.
Student spending is also an important conversation. Talk with your student about setting and sticking to a budget, expectations for using or not using a credit card and how to get extra cash in an emergency.
Health and Safety It is important to contact your insurance carrier regarding unforeseen medical expenses. Remind your student about the importance of traveling safely, and never walking or being alone in an unfamiliar place. It can be helpful to be familiar with the area to which your student is going and be aware of any food or health precautions or hazards. Students should stay hydrated and wear sunscreen in new locations and also be mindful of how to access local medical help if needed. Other safety precautions include; knowing local traffic laws, how to access the American Embassy when abroad, foreign travel customs, culture and expectations.
Talking through these tips with your student and encouraging them to ask questions to the program staff on-site will help them get the most out of their time abroad.
While some students may elect to travel, others might be spending some time at home. If your student is coming home, encourage them to relax, sleep in catch up on school work or have fun. You might also encourage your student to use this time to also give back to their community, reconnect with friends and family, and apply for internships and jobs.
What’s next after this semester?
- Fall Schedules
- Graduate School
March is usually the time when students begin planning for the fall semester. The course schedule is published on March 9, and the shopping cart tool in MyPack Portal opens for students. At this time, students can begin to put courses they want to take in their cart in time for registration.
March is usually the time when students begin planning for the fall semester. The course schedule is published on March 9, and the shopping cart tool in MyPack Portal opens for students. At this time, students can begin to put the courses they want to take in their cart in time for registration.
Academic advisors are an essential part of the course registration process. Although students can put courses in their cart, they will not be able to register for those courses until they meet with their academic advisor to discuss their schedule for the upcoming semester. Prior to the meeting with their academic advisor, students are asked to prepare the list of courses they will like to take as well as questions they may have regarding their academic progress.
Typically advising appointments fill up fast because students want the ability to be able to register as soon as possible. Encourage your student to meet with their academic advisor as early as possible as they will be more likely to get the courses they want and need. Also, remind your student to keep an eye out for emails from their advisor because they can contain very important information and dates.
Planning for commencement Congratulations to all parents and families with students graduating this spring. Be sure to check in with your student to ensure they are working to complete the required items on the graduation checklist.
Ceremonies Typically, there are two ceremonies for students and families to attend. The campus-wide ceremony is held at the PNC Arena as well as several department/college ceremonies at various locations and throughout the weekend. Details about both ceremonies are communicated with students via email. Ask your student how they would like to celebrate and make a plan together for this momentous occasion.
Regalia All graduates are required to wear the traditional commencement regalia, cap, gown and signature tassel during commencement ceremonies. If your student has yet to order their graduation regalia, encourage them to read all of the emails with instructions from Wolfpack Outfitters regarding ordering their cap and gown at Wolfpack Outfitters, the NC State Bookstore.
If your student is unable to afford their cap and gown, please have them email Parents and Families Services at email@example.com or call (919) 515.2441.
Class Rings The Class Ring ceremony is a cherished tradition hosted by the Alumni Association. For many students, it signifies their accomplishment and becoming a part of the Alumni Association. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at (919) 515.3375.
Graduate School There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes with becoming a graduate student and it is never too early to open the discussion and explore options with your student.
If you know for certain that your student is planning for graduate school or a pre-professional track, advise them to spend time researching a broad range of schools and programs that match their interest and are the best fit for them. In addition to applying for a graduate program, your student needs to consider how they plan to finance their graduate program. NC State Graduate School has quite a bit to offer in terms of graduate programs.
If your student is interested in pursuing Medical, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, or Law School have them visit Pre-Professional Services housed in the Career Development Center. If your student is interested in NC State’s Veterinary program they should spend time with our Vet PAC. All three paths will help students prepare for the program selection, application, and graduate testing process.
Whether or not your student has decided to further their studies after graduation, it may be worth a conversation, or two, to further explore options and learn about their evolving future goals
How was your meeting with your advisor?
- Academic planning
- Relationship building
Hopefully, your student has met with their academic advisor and enrolled in classes for the fall. If they have not, inquire further about their plans for the upcoming semester.
Ask your student about their upcoming courses. Ask about the dynamic of the meeting with their advisor. Does your student feel confident in their new schedule? What was the feedback, if any, from the academic advisor?
If your student is a first-year student, the relationship with their advisor will continue to evolve. Hopefully, your student feels supported and heard by their advisor. If your student has recently changed majors and is building a new relationship with their advisor, check-in and see how things are going.
How are you preparing for the end of the semester?
- Final Exams
The last day of classes, also known as LDOC, is April 25, 2022, marking the end of another spring semester as we head into final exams. Needless to say, it is a stressful time for students as they try to juggle wrapping up final projects, preparing for upcoming exams, getting ready for the summer transition and if applicable, ensuring that they will be able to graduate on time. With everything fast approaching, time management is extremely important so students aren’t scrambling at the last minute to get things done.
PA Tip: Students can find their exam schedule in their MyPack Portal under the planning and enrollment tab.
Take time to check in on your student, not only about their final exam schedule and upcoming deadlines but also their stress levels. It is critical that students engage in self-care strategies to prevent burnout, and there is a wide variety of activities available during this time of year to help support your student’s mental health. Encourage your student to take advantage of campus resources like Prevention Services and Wellness and Recreation.
As we wrap up the semester, it is important to keep in mind that commencement and move-out are approaching quickly (both in the first couple weeks of May). All on-campus residents are required to check out of their residence halls 24-hours after their last final exam.
Is your student graduating? For details and more information about university and college program activities visit commencement.ncsu.edu.
Is your student struggling academically?
If your student is experiencing academic difficulties, it is important to encourage them to reach out for help. NC State offers a plethora of support services that will help students prepare for their finals and dramatically reduce end-of-semester stress. The Academic Success Center is a great resource if your student needs help understanding course material and learning new strategies to study it. All professors have office hours (found on the syllabus, which is often distributed on the first day of classes). Many professors also have teaching assistants who are willing to help students work through course difficulties.
Although not ideal, failing a class does happen. And if it does, it can understandably cause a great deal of stress. If your student fails a class or even for those who receive a less than desirable grade, take a moment to pause. Remind them, first and foremost, that you are still proud of them no matter what. Then give them space to share their feelings as to what may have been the root cause (PA Tip: try hard to only listen before offering opinions, observations or advice) then begin to explore with your students some options for recourse.
Below are three common resources that may be beneficial for students who are struggling with their current courses and/or degree program. It is important to note, that while these situations are quite common, each student’s experience is very unique. Students may need to further explore resources and support along their path to academic success.
Grade Exclusion NC State students can request up to two grade exclusions as an undergraduate. Grade exclusions are an option to help keep their GPA intact. Learn more about grade exclusions here.
Course Repeat Undergraduate students also have the option to repeat a course for credit once without permission if they receive a grade lower than a D+. To learn more about this option, visit repeating courses on the Student Services website.
Changing Majors It is also not uncommon for students to realize that perhaps what they have chosen to study is not their final path and other interests, courses or talents are taking their studies in a new direction. For this reason, students often change majors and are able to pursue a Change of Degree Application (CODA).
Whether your student opts for one of the three options above or a separate route altogether, strategic planning with their academic advisor is not only important but may be necessary to remain on track for graduation. Academic advisors are a vital part of your student’s academic success and can provide resources and identify options for your student. Encourage your student to meet with their advisor to see and discuss which option would be the best fit for them.
What are your summer plans?
- Summer Sessions
Some students might have jobs or internships lined up for the summer. Students can use these opportunities to gain experience and maybe make a little extra money during the break. Students can search for jobs and internships through ePack. Even if your student is not working, encourage them to seek out opportunities like volunteering to give back to their community.
Contrary to popular belief, Summer school is not a bad thing, especially in college. Many students take summer classes for a variety of reasons and it isn’t always because they are behind or have to retake a class.
Some students do so to lighten their academic course load while others may take advantage of this option in an effort to be proactive, making strides toward an earlier graduation term. Actually, Summer sessions can be a very good thing for NC State students.
Of course, as with everything there are pros and cons to weigh. Make sure your student consults with their academic advisor to see if summer classes would be beneficial and discuss any potential financial impacts it could have. Regardless of what they decide to do, the option lives with them and it is your support and guidance, alongside intentional planning with their advisor, that will help them make the best decision about taking summer classes.
Another way for students to maximize their time is to spend their summer traveling. NC State offers many summer Study Abroad programs, so be sure to encourage your student to check out these exciting opportunities. Students can also obtain financial aid towards study abroad to help them pay for their travel.
How do you think the semester went overall?
- Final exams
- Instructor feedback
When May rolls around, it seems intuitive to ask about a final grade or outcome in each class. It is important to be mindful that a simple letter grade may not reflect the time, effort and diligence invested.
Instead, try inquiring more about what was gained from the semester whether that be effective time management, routine establishment, getting involved or lessons learned and another layer of foundation for your students’ career laid.
Final grades will be a part of the discussion, but they should not be the focus. As with other conversation starters, it is encouraged that you allow your student to lead the discussion in expressing their experience.
Establishing rules for being back home
- Family time
- Connecting with old friends
- House rules and expectations
Similar to Winter Break, parents and students may have different expectations for the summer. Discussing the “house rules” and expectations for going out at night, attendance at family events, household chores, family/friend balance, money management, and use of the car can help ease the transition for students returning home and avoid future conflict.
Having an open conversation with your student before their return home can help avoid conflict and make the summer months more enjoyable for all.
What are your plans for the fall?
- Fall preparation
- Upcoming or past deadlines
- Fall planning
Before the fall semester begins, it is important to have conversations about submitting any applications for internships or co-ops, applying for housing, discussing health insurance, etc.
Having these conversations now can help reduce potential stressors that may arise once your student returns to campus.
It might help to make a checklist to include financial aid, housing, health insurance, dining, registration and anything else your student may need. Don’t forget to review it with them before they leave for the fall.