Tips for First-Years


  • Texting, Facebook, and cell phone calls are all great ways to stay in touch with your student.  If you're not up on social networking, just ask them for a quick lesson.  It's a whole new box of communication toys out there!
  • Every family is different with calling expectations - some like a scheduled weekly call, others like the improptu catch-as-catch can. Your child will know by caller ID that you're trying to reach them, they may also chose to not answer the call at that moment. It's all part of their budding independence.
  • Emailing is not this generation's favorite, so don't expect an instant reply. It may take some students a week or more to get to that in-box.
  • They'll be sure to check the mailroom if you let them know that you sent snail mail.
  • Offer to visit campus occasionally, but tell your son or daughter well in advance that you would like to come; don't just drop in.
  • Make your visits short when you do visit (unless, of course, they ask you to stay). Offer to take a group of their friends out for dinner, but then allow them to attend whatever social function is occurring later in the evening. Plan on a late brunch the next morning.
  • Expect that your child will need to do multiple loads of laundry when he or she comes home for a visit.
  • Remember that when they come home, they have been on a different sleeping schedule. Be prepared for snack raids to your kitchen at 3 a.m. College students home on vacation often sleep even later in the morning than they did as high school students.


Both students and parents often worry about the transition to college-level academics.

But really there are just three simple steps that will help your child to achieve academic success:

  1. Go to class.
  2. Do all of the homework and reading.
  3. Get extra help if you're having trouble understanding the subject matter. Don't wait until midterms or the final exam to try to get help.

College is a time for exploration and self-discovery. Some students experience a dip in their performance from high school to first year of college as they adjust to this new learning environment. Most students will work out what they need to do to survive and succeed. But, it is the student who needs to realize this. Parents, faculty advisors and administrators cannot do this for the student, although each will offer guidance and support. Take comfort in the knowledge that most students figure out the system and its expectations, and rebound to higher levels of performance.


Ample literature stresses the importance of strong student/faculty/advisor connections as crucial to ensuring success in college. You can support the college's efforts to create these connections by asking your child about his or her advisors and encouraging him or her to take advantage of them. There are numerous adults on campus who are willing and able to provide mentoring and support. Students generally need to make a first step and the rest will follow easily.

Sometimes this is a daunting task for the first-year student, but rest assured that if your child makes the initial contact, the adult will work at sustaining the relationship. Developing this kind of mentoring relationship happens quite easily on the Champlain campus, and is one of the advantages of Champlain's small size. Small classes and close student/faculty relationships mean that professors really get to know their students, which creates an open, accessible learning environment. This depth of knowledge also makes it easy for a professor to write compelling letters of recommendation for graduate sc