Tips for Parents & FAQ

Tips for Parents of Incoming Freshman
Every family's experience of their child going to college is different.  A single parent whose only child goes to college will likely have a significantly different experience than that of two parents who still have two or three children at home. Parents whose child attends a university that is 1,000 miles from home will likely have a very different experience than parents whose child attends a college that is 20 miles from home.

Recognize that your child will be going through significant changes during the freshman year of college.  It is a good idea to sit down with your child and talk about the types of changes she is likely to go through and how to handle them. It is also advisable to discuss changing expectations that you have or that your child may have. For example, a discussion about changes in house rules is a good idea to have prior to the student returning home for a school vacation.

Encourage your child to develop a greater level of independence.
For example, if your child has a conflict with a roommate or a professor, your natural inclination may be to pick up the phone and try to resolve the problem yourself. It is important that your child learn to resolve adult conflicts in a mature manner. Encourage your child to attempt to resolve the conflict on his/her own first. You can help your child by problem solving with them about ways to approach the person with whom they are having the conflict.

Urge your child to access university support services as needed.
For example, Residential Life has placed a Resident Assistant on each floor to help students find their way around the university, answer general questions that may arise, and help residents resolve roommate conflicts. The Counseling Center can assist your child if he has difficulty adjusting to the university. Accessing these services can be a tremendous asset to a freshman student who is experiencing a problem.

Encourage your child to get involved on campus.
We find that students who are active members of student organizations tend to enjoy their college years more than those students who are not involved on campus. Joining one of the many student organizations, participating in intramural sports, or volunteering for a local charity can ease your child's adjustment to Tennessee Tech.

Recognize that your entire family will go through changes as your child goes to college.
If this is your only child or your last child, you'll suddenly find yourself with more time on your hands than you have had in some time. Investing in a new hobby or resuming an old one, going on a vacation, or taking a class can help ease your adjustment to this transition. If you have other children at home, they will likely have reactions to the change, as well. It is especially important that the lines of communication with all of your children remain open during times of change within your family.

Parent's FAQs
Q: Could I talk with a counselor regarding my son's problem?
All student visits to the Counseling Center are confidential and no information can be released without the student's written consent. Although we cannot share confidential information with you, our counselors are available to consult with you if you desire further information about the Counseling Center or if you want to discuss a concern.

Q: What are the staff credentials?
The qualifications of each staff member in the Counseling Center are different. We invite you to view our Meet the Staff page for details about the qualifications of each staff member.

Q: How can my child make an appointment?
Your child can call the Counseling Center to set up an appointment or stop by the office which is located in the Roaden University Center in room 307.

Q: How much does it cost for my son to be seen at the Counseling Center for counseling? Does he need to have insurance?
All counseling services provided by the Counseling Center are free to registered and enrolled TN Tech students. He does not need to have insurance for any counseling services provided by the Counseling Center. If your son requires a service that is not provided by the Counseling Center, we will assist in making a referral to an appropriate community resource.

Q: My daughter is a freshman. She recently called me and sounds overwhelmed and stressed. What can she do?
Ask your daughter to talk to you about how it is to be at the university and what her days have been like. Listen to what she has to say without giving advice or solutions right away. Just let her talk to you about what's going on and how she's dealing with things. Ask her what she worries about and what she thinks might help her. Let her know that going to college is a big change and that stress is natural in this situation. Adjusting to being away from home, having to make decisions for herself, and trying to figure everything out takes time, maybe several weeks. Encourage her to have fun and to begin to develop friendships with people she can talk to. Tell her that you have faith in her and that you support her and will be there for her. Ask her to stay in touch with you on a regular basis. If she continues to have problems adjusting or feeling overwhelmed, direct her to the Counseling Center where she can talk to someone about her stress.

Q: My son has stopped going to class and sounds depressed. What should I do?
Most of us have experienced brief episodes of depression in our lives. Depression that lingers is likely to require professional intervention. Depression may be precipitated by a significant loss: loss of a loved one, loss of a special role in life, loss of physical ability due to illness or injury, loss of self-esteem after failing to reach an important goal. Perfectionism, setting unrealistically high goals, or expecting to be in control of everything in our lives, can set us up for depression. Some common signs of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness, excessive crying
    Social withdrawal
    Feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless
    Chronic fatigue
    Difficulty concentrating and remembering
    Anger, irritability
    Sleep/appetite problems

Your son may look to you as a role model and may view you as a major resource for guidance and help with his problem. Your willingness to be there-to listen, to support and encourage, to share your knowledge and experience, to advise-plays a significant role in your son's persistence and success. Discuss with your son the option of coming to the Counseling Center and speaking with a professional who can help. Your son may be skeptical and reluctant to seek this help. It is important for you to accept his reaction, while calmly repeating your recommendation.

Q: My daughter has a learning disability. Where can she go to get help on campus?
The TN Tech Office of Disability Services office can provide your daughter with general information on services available, learning disabilities, and attention deficit disorders, including a list of Cookeville area providers who can do initial or updated testing to document the type of problem or need and recommended resources or learning accommodations. You may call them at (931) 372-6119.

Q: I think my son drinks too much. Where can I send him for help?
Sometimes parents see behaviors that cause concern about drug or alcohol use. If several of the following statements are true, your son or daughter may have a problem with drugs or alcohol:

  • Has your son's personality changed noticeably and are there sudden inappropriate mood changes (irritability, unprovoked hostility or giddiness)?
    Does your son seem to be losing old friends and hanging out with a drinking or partying group?
    Are you missing money or items that could be converted to cash?
    Is your son in trouble with the law?
    Are there signs of medical or emotional problems (ulcers, gastritis, liver problems, depression, overwhelming anxiety, withdrawal from friends and family, suicide talk or gestures)?
    Do you detect physical signs such as alcohol on the breath, pupil change, redness of eyes, slurred speech or staggering?
    Is your son concerned about his or her use of alcohol, or other drugs including marijuana?

If you speak to your student about your concerns, remember to do so calmly and to be aware of your own emotions and attitudes. Feel free to call the Counseling Center for further help with questions you may have. A counselor can speak with you regarding other factors to consider regarding assessment and treatment options. If your son is willing to do so, encourage him to call the Counseling Center to make an appointment to discuss the situation.

Q: My daughter has lost a lot of weight. I think she might have an eating disorder. How can I be sure?
There are several steps you can take to get help:

  • Acknowledge the problem.
    Begin by choosing to call either a counselor, your physician, or a nutritionist to obtain information about eating disorders.
    If your daughter is willing to do so, encourage her to call the Counseling Center to arrange an appointment to discuss the situation.
    Discuss your concerns and goals honestly with her.
    Establish a reasonable treatment plan together.
    Have patience and be gentle with yourself; you have taken a big step towards peace.

At the Counseling Center, we know that eating issues and related problems can be complex with both psychological and physical components. During initial meetings with a student who has eating concerns, we provide an assessment to determine the exact nature of the problem. We then offer either short-term treatment or a referral, depending upon what is best for each student. Sometimes seeking help can be difficult to do, and we understand this. We attempt to work with students to set goals that are comfortable for them.

Q: My son is a freshman and doesn't have many friends on campus. How can I encourage him to get more involved?
We find that students who are active members of student organizations tend to enjoy their college years more than those students who are not involved on campus. Joining one of the many student organizations or volunteering for a local charity can ease your child’s adjustment to Tennessee Tech. You can encourage your son to become involved in a variety of campus activities by urging him to check out some or all of the following web sites:

Office of Student Activities

Greek Life


Campus Recreation and Fitness Center

Q: My daughter's boyfriend is abusive. Where can she go for help?
Encourage your daughter to call the Counseling Center for assistance. Your daughter might also like to contact Genesis House, which is Cookeville's domestic violence information center and shelter. Genesis House can provide shelter, confidential sexual assault examinations, court support, counseling, support groups, and helpful referrals. All services provided by Genesis House are free and confidential.


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