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Parents & Families

The Richmond College and Westhampton College deans' offices and the entire Student Development Division work to provide the resources students need to successfully adjust and thrive in a university environment. College is a time of transition and development, and students need a support network, both on and off campus. The University of Richmond welcomes parental and family involvement in academic and campus life — it is essential to student success.

Campus Resources

Student Development provides a number of one-on-one resources and advising to students adjusting to life at the University. Below are just a few of the areas in which our dedicated professional staff are trained to provide guidance.

Academic Adjustment

Your student is likely to perform at an academic level lower than you or they expect. Data indicate that many students’ grades for the first semester probably will be lower than what they have achieved in the past. Remember that the climate has changed. Many capable students glide along in high school with little difficulty, never having learned how to maximize their abilities, study efficiently or organize their time effectively. When competing with equally gifted people, resolving these issues takes time and understanding by both student and parent.

Emotional Health

A significant adjustment is demanded of students in a residential college experience: accepting greater independence and dealing with its consequences; learning to get along with people who have different values and behavior patterns; setting limits; structuring time and setting priorities; managing uncertainty; and testing principles in the presence of doubt. As exciting as the process can be, it may deplete emotional resources. The effects of stress vary from person to person, and from one situation to another. Many students have the notion that asking for help shows weakness or lack of coping ability. On the contrary, the professionals in the Student Development division work hard in many ways to persuade students that accessing appropriate resources constitutes mature and effective problem-solving. Parents can help by encouraging students to solve their own problems using resources on campus.

Sexuality

At Richmond, as on other campuses, there is increased openness in discussing divergent views about sexuality as a moral, ethical, relational and health concern. Your student will be exposed to the full range of sexual attitudes and behaviors among Richmond students, just as she or he would in any heterogeneous community. The university cannot impose a common morality on its students; rather, it supports a climate that values the pursuit of knowledge, and the freedom to express divergent viewpoints. The process of grappling with different perspectives can help students develop and solidify the values by which they will guide their own lives. Recreation and Wellness offers periodic workshops on various sexual health topics.

Taking Time Off and Transferring

It is common for many students to experience one or more slumps during their college years. While often referred to as the “sophomore slump,” a slump may occur at any time. It may arise when the student is far enough along academically that the newness and excitement of university life has worn thin, but is too far removed from graduation to sense fulfillment. This is often a time of searching for one’s own place in the grand scheme of things: "Why am I here at college? What do I want to do with my life?" The student may sleep excessively, gain or lose weight, attend class erratically, watch grades drop and be plagued by restlessness. Usually, a student rides it out with the sympathetic help of peers, friends, and family.

Some students entertain the notion of leaving school for a while, to work or to travel. Students who take time off from college typically report the experience to have been meaningful for them, returning with a fresh outlook and better motivation. Should your student present this option, be prepared to recognize it as a valid possibility and not necessarily as a way to run from responsibilities. The psychologists at CAPS, as well as the dean's office staff, are more than willing to consult with students as they come to their decision on this question.

A question sometimes faced during the first or second year is whether to transfer to another college or university. The “grass is greener” illusion is common to all of us. Once they settle into a routine and have had sufficient time to develop meaningful friendships, their attitude and outlook often improve. 

On the other hand, campus environments do differ. It is possible that a student may function better in another college environment.