Parents & Families

Keep the conversation going

Your relationship may be changing, but the bond between you and your student is as important as ever.

We understand that distance, and other changes now that your student is in college, can sometimes make communication complicated. Whether you’re just a few miles away or halfway across the globe, we’re here to help you figure out how to stay engaged with your student and support them through their UW experience.

Four tips to help you connect:

  • Ask follow-up questions.
  • Listen actively and patiently.
  • Try to see things from their point of view before offering advice.
  • Give your student room to vent when they need it.



Getting started

  • Make a family communication plan with your student. How often will you talk, and what methods will you use?
  • Ask your student what types of encouragement and support they want from you. How can you help them handle homesickness or other challenges?
  • Discuss upcoming travel and visits. How often will they return home? Will you or other family members visit them at UW?
  • Develop shared expectations on information sharing. Will your student give you access to their grades, medical records, financial aid, billing, etc.?

Friendships & relationships

  • Get to know your student’s friends. Ask open-ended questions about who they’re meeting and spending time with.
  • Help them work through conflict. What’s something they’ve disagreed with their roommate(s) about? How did they resolve the issue?
  • Talk with your student about healthy relationships and personal safety. Encourage them to practice the buddy system at parties and other social settings.

Student life

  • Help your student find their UW community. Are there any clubs or organizations they’re interested in joining?
  • Encourage them to explore the broader Seattle community. What off-campus destinations are they most excited about? Are they interested in volunteering?
  • Talk about balancing academic life with social life. What’s worked best for them so far? Do you have any tips or strategies to share from your own experience?


  • Talk with your student about their academic interests. What class are they enjoying most? What do they want to take next quarter? Could they explore a subject area further by joining a club or applying for a research position?
  • Help them develop good study habits. Are they spending two hours studying for every hour in class?
  • Encourage them to seek tutoring and academic support before they need it. What’s their most difficult class? What tutoring options are available? Have they met with their adviser recently?

“I can’t thank you enough for the Parent & Family Guide. It’s tremendously helpful along with the contact information, resource and safety page.” — Kim, parent of a first-year Husky

Health & safety

  • Encourage your student to be honest with you about how they’re adjusting to college life. What was the hardest moment in the past week? How are they carving out time to care for themselves?
  • Knowing the signs of depression and anxiety. Talk with your student about accessing counseling and other mental-health resources.
  • Discuss personal safety and awareness of surroundings. Do they walk in groups? Do they know how to get home safely if it’s late?
  • Establish an emergency contact (such as a friend or roommate) for family members to call in case of emergency.
  • Talk about transportation safety. Do they know how to use public transportation? Do they feel safe walking or bicycling on campus?

Living & dining

  • Learn about your student’s habits and preferences. What’s their favorite place to eat on campus?
  • Help them balance studying and socializing. Where can they study without disruption? What’s the best way to take a break when they need it?
  • Make sure they know how to do laundry and keep a clean living space. Can you offer them any helpful tips?
  • Encourage them to build community. Have they met their resident adviser (RA) or other people in their residence hall?


  • Be clear about who is responsible for what: tuition, housing, food, books, entertainment, etc.
  • Help your student set a budget and build financial skills. Do they understand how credit and debit cards work? How will they manage their student loans?
  • Explore options for earning money. Will your student work while attending classes? Or during breaks? Talk with them about campus jobs, internships, service learning and research opportunities.



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