Adjusting to University – Resources for the Family

Posted by Megan on July 15, 2014

Journey to the Centre of York

An image of a family.

Adjusting to university isn’t only tricky for a student, it often is tricky for their family as well. Today’s post is going to point out some resources and tips to help minimize the difficulties of transition.

Resource – Parents & Families Website

York added a new website this year with the addition of the Parents & Families website. This is a great resource for families as it helps give them a better understanding of a number of different topics including: What York’s known for, the Admissions road map (the dates when things tend to happen), First Year road map, Financials, Career Planning, and even more. You can even sign up for Parents & Family updates!

Parent & Family Information Session

There are two upcoming information sessions for parents and families.

The first is on Thursday, July 24th from 6:30-8:30 pm. The second is on Saturday, August 23rd from 2-4 pm. There will also be live streaming if you can’t attend in person, so check the events page for more information.

Both sessions are optional and will cover information about the transition to university, what the first year experience will be like, and will cover tips to help your student with their first day.

Parent & Family Orientation Day

This orientation occurs on Monday, September 1, from 10 am – 2 pm. From the Family Events page:

Please join us on move-in day for our Parent & Family Orientation Day to learn about the opportunities, services and resources York has for your student. The event will begin with a welcome from President Mamdouh Shoukri and includes a student services information fair, a student play put on by our own Vanier College Productions that showcases the first year experience, as well as an optional session about financial aid.

Afterward, parents and families of students affiliated with BethuneCalumet,McLaughlinNewStong and Winters will be treated to lunch hosted by their respective College. Attendees will also receive information about academic services, social activities, recreational activities, and facilities related to their student’s College which will serve as their ‘home away from home’ while at York.

For parents and families of students affiliated with Founders and Vanier you are welcome to attend the morning Orientation events from 10am – 12pm, but your College specific Orientation events will be held on:

– September 3 at for Founders College (more details and registration instructions to follow)
– September 9 at 6pm for Vanier College (more details and registration instructions to follow)

Make sure you RSVP for any events you wish to attend (click and scroll to the bottom of the page).

My tips as a student

Every family is different but my hope is that some of these tips will apply and will help ease the transition whether your student is living at home, off campus, or in residence for their first year.

  1. Steady communication is key. Looking back at my first year, there was so much going on that it wasn’t always easy to commute back to see my family. So we learned to communicate more from other methods, whether it was scheduling a phone call or Skype session, sending regular emails and texts, or just keeping up to date on Facebook.
  2. Visits go both ways. My home town is only an hour and a half from York University so it’s not too hard to get back. I try to commit to at minimum, once a month weekend visits with my family. But looking back, I do wish that my family came to see me more and spent some time on campus to see what my life as a student is like. So if there is one tip I can pass along, it would be to ask your student occasionally (if possible) if you want them to come to campus for a visit instead of them always going back to you. For those living outside the GTA, it can be a perfect opportunity to discover more of the city and build some great memories with your student.
  3. Helping your student doesn’t always have to mean giving them money. Now some students reading this might grumble because money can be hard to come across but looking back at these past few years there were a lot of other kind of supports that I cherished: unconditional support and a listening ear, leftovers to take back to school with me, decorations or furniture for my room (a nice blanket goes a long way for comfort), and so on. Other students have benefited from their families taking care of their cell phone bill or car insurance while they pay for their other bills. It’s different for every family, but it’s the little things that really count.
  4. Know when to be gentle about your students grades. I do think that some students have to learn their priorities the hard way, however a lot of students try their hardest and are stunned when they receive grades lower than they are used to. This is the time when they need that support I mentioned before because whatever criticism you could pass along to them, they are probably telling themselves a hundred times over. And sometimes these grades are an indication of a bigger picture – maybe they are pursuing a degree that doesn’t make them happy, maybe they need to attend some workshops to brush up on their academic skills, maybe they are even suffering from a mental illness such as depression or anxiety that has been brought on by the stress of school – my point is to listen first, and save the judgement for later.
  5. Change isn’t always bad. The last tip I want to share is that change isn’t always bad. Students might want to change their major as they discover an academic passion – even their very personality might undergo some changes as their previous line of thinking is challenged by the content of their courses. The person I am is far more developed and in some ways quite different then the girl who first entered first year university four years ago. And I’m happy with the woman I’m growing to be so it’s great when families get behind that change and let it happen.

With all these tools and resources in mind, I’m confident that you can support your student from first year until graduation. Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Comment below.

An image of a graduating student and her parents.


Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

See other posts by Megan