Tips for First-Years


  • Texting, social media, and phone calls are all great ways to stay in touch with your student. If you don't have the latest social apps, ask your student if they'd like to stay in touch that way (and if they can give you a quick lesson).
  • Every family is different with calling expectations. Some like a scheduled weekly call, while others like an impromptu catch-up once in a while. It may help to have a conversation about those expectations before the semester starts—and to keep in mind that a little flexibility goes a long way. Your student's communication preferences may fluctuate as they settle into a new environment.
  • A care package is a fun way to let your student know you're thinking of them. A few favorite snacks will remind your student that you miss them! 
  • If you can, visit campus occasionally—just be sure to tell your student well in advance that you would like to come. Champlain Weekend is an ideal time to visit campus and see what your student has been up to.
  • Remember that when they come home, they have likely 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—and don't wait until midterms or the final exam to find that help.

College is a time for exploration and self-discovery. Some students experience a dip in their performance from high school to the 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. 


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 to graduate schools and employers.