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Families and Friends - Student Affairs

Supporting Students Through Their University Experience

Guiding a university-aged student is an important role for supporters, family members and friends. In this phase of life, these roles typically evolve from active participation to assuming a supportive presence as your student journeys through the years ahead. Remember, your support is vital as your student navigates the complexities of university life. By fostering their independence, encouraging self-discovery, and providing a foundation of understanding and communication, you’ll help your student thrive and grow during this transformative period.

Below you will find some helpful resources while navigating this time together with your student:

While your guidance is valuable, allow your student the space to make their own decisions. Balancing your involvement with their need for independence fosters their sense of autonomy and responsibility. Help your student learn effective time management skills to balance their academics, social life, extracurricular activities, and self-care. Encourage them to create a realistic study routine and to take breaks to prevent burnout. While offering direction, allow them to make their own choices and learn from their experiences.

  • Consider encouraging your student to explore the Get Involved webpage to explore events, workshops, volunteer experiences, community-engaged programs and employment opportunities to help build community, enhance skills, apply academic learning in the world, and have a positive impact on others. 

University campuses are diverse environments. Encourage your student to engage with individuals from various backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Support their involvement in events, initiatives, and learning opportunities that might be new or unfamiliar to the student. This exposure can broaden their horizons and help them develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

University is a time for personal growth and self-discovery. Acknowledge that identity exploration is a natural part of university life. Support your student's exploration of gender, sexual orientation, cultural background, and personal beliefs. Create a safe space for conversations and share resources that can help them navigate this journey.

Encourage your student to take advantage of academic resources like tutoring, study groups, and professors' office hours. Foster a positive attitude toward seeking help when needed, promoting success in their studies.

  • If your student could benefit from additional academic support, consider directing them to the University’s Library where help with writing, researching, studying, and English as an Additional Language (EAL) resources are available.
  • The Undergraduate Academic Information Centre (UAIC) provides general academic advising information to undergraduate students and may function as a first point of contact for students looking to receive information or advice about academic program issues.

Teach them about budgeting, managing expenses, and financial independence. Discuss topics like student loans, part-time jobs, and responsible credit card usage to help them build a strong financial foundation.

  • If your student could use some additional support developing their financial literacy, consider directing them to make an appointment with a Financial Counsellor in Student Financial Services. Please visit the Student Financial Services website for information on making an appointment. 

University life may come with challenges. Teach your student how to navigate setbacks, stress, and failures. Instill a sense of resilience, reminding them that setbacks are part of growth.

Provide guidance on forming healthy relationships, whether friendships or romantic partnerships. Encourage open communication, respect, and understanding in their interactions with others.

  • If your student could benefit learning about healthy relationships, helping a friend, and other habits for well-being, consider directing them to the Wellness Education Centre.
  • If your student could benefit from talking about their relationship, consider directing them to Counselling Services.
  • If your student in residence could benefit from programs, resources and supports which assist with their transition to life on campus, consider directing them to the team at Residence Life.

Encourage your student to take advantage of the university's resources, such as academic advisors, counselling services, accessibility services and student organizations. Remind them that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Let them know that there's no shame in asking for assistance when facing academic challenges, stress, or mental health concerns.

  • If your student could benefit from some additional mental health and well-being support, consider directing them to Mental Health Navigator within Student Wellness Services. Student Wellness Navigators are a first point of contact for students seeking mental health support for the first time. In a 30-minute appointment, a navigator will discuss concerns and identify appropriate services and supports, helping students to coordinate a plan. Appointments are booked by calling the Student Wellness Services Reception Desk at 519-824-4120 ext. 52131. 

Because transitioning to university life can be both an exciting and a stressful time for a student, the Division created a guidebook to help inform supports, family members, and friends of how they can support a student who is transitioning during what is known as the first-year experience. The transition process may require support from both on-campus services as well as from loved ones. This guide includes information about typical first year experiences and identifies on-campus resources that are available to support students during such a transition.

Review the online Parent, Guardian, Supporter and Family Guide for First Year Students