Asking the right question(s)

Parents of college students, this one is for you!  It is currently midterm season on college campus.  Students are staying up later than usual studying for exams; many students will have multiple exams on the same day (back-to-back) combined with major essays due.  It is tough.  Very tough.  It is also the time of the semester/term when students will suddenly be required to assess if the studying they have been doing is working.

What is your role?  We encourage you to be supportive regardless of the grades your student earns.  We also encourage you to ask questions of your student so that you know what is going on sooner rather than later.  However, as we note in our book (the Parents side of it), there are questions regarding school that will lead to blank stares or silence and then there are questions that might actually allow you some insight.

Questions that will be met with a blank stare or silence or a shrug:

  • “How are your classes?”
  • “How was your midterm?”
  • “What grade did you get?”

Questions that are supportive and lead to further discussion with your student:

  • “What types of course materials are required?”
  • “How are you keeping track of your readings and assignments?”
  • “What was the lecture/discussion about today in your ________ class?”

Each semester, your student will have new professors, take classes in different buildings, and meet new people.  Each semester is a new opportunity!  Instead of asking your student general questions, we recommend you consider the questions above (more are in the book) which can lead to more insightful and engaging conversations.

Next time, we will think about asking questions related to the social experiences of your student.  Stay tuned!

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