Helping Your Student Succeed In College

Helping Your Student Succeed In College

The staff in the Dean Of Students office enjoyed meeting so many Panther Family members during orientation. We understand that the amount of information you and your student received can be overwhelming. To help you continue to digest the information and empower your student, the Dean of Students Office is sharing information you can discuss with your student as they prepare to come to campus.

Our main focus is to help you gain awareness of our array of programs and services that support your student. We also strongly encourage you to talk to your student in ways that encourages them evaluate their needs and seek out resources to support their success.

In high school, students may be used to having teachers and counselors who would closely guide them or require them to use resources or get involved in clubs. Also, in high school, students were used to being around the same group of people each hour of every day of school. It’s easy to establish friendships and mentors in that structure.

In college, some students struggle to make friends or find mentors because they may only see a professor for three hours each week and their peers might not have similar schedules. They simply don’t have as many opportunities to naturally interact. Students will quickly notice a shift as they will have to put more effort into building relationships, and they will initiate contact with resources and involvement opportunities. Sometimes students can feel vulnerable or apprehensive as they identify their needs and reach out to different resources and programs.

We seek your support in helping us facilitate their transition. As your student becomes more independent (even more independent then when they learned how to drive!), you can play a key role in their transition by supporting their independence while offering them guidance and encouragement to seek out resources and opportunities. Ask them questions about their experiences, be open to hearing whatever they share, help them brainstorm solutions to problems, and stay engaged by reading communications and visiting campus.

You can also help them develop a college-going mindset before they arrive on campus. As you talk to your student, encourage them to think about choices they may need to make in the upcoming year.

Here are a few topics to help you get started:

  • How will they prioritize their academic success? They may only have a few assignments each semester and they will have to figure out how to pace themselves when no one is checking in weekly.
  • How will they balance school, possibly work, getting involved on campus, making new friends, and maintaining prior relationships with friends and family? How will they deel with pressure from peers who may not prioritize in the same way?
  • What is their plan for managing their health? Do they know when they should go to Norris Health Center? Discuss your insurance coverages in the event they need to be referred to an off-campus facility for medical emergencies, prescriptions, x-rays, etc. Do they have the phone number for their health care provider?
  • How will your student keep items secure? Help them record serial numbers on valuables? Stress the importance of locking doors.
  • What is their plan for exploring Milwaukee? We recommend that students never travel alone. Discuss the safety resources  including UWM mobile app, Be On the Safe Side (campus evening transportation service), and Safe Walkers (evening walking service) to help them travel securely around the community.
  • What will they do if they are in a situation where they witness something that concerns them (e.g. a fellow student in distress, someone being pressure to do something they don’t want to)? What if they are the student being pressured—how do they plan to respond?  Do they know how to contact police or submit an incident report.
  • How will they manage peer relationships in the event they have conflicts with a roommate (or housemate)?
  • What is your student’s thoughts about using alcohol? If they choose to use, how will they do so safely? What are your thoughts about their use of alcohol?  This conversation is important for your student as they think about these choices and potential consequences.
  • How will your student manage intimate relationships? Discuss how they can set boundaries, be assertive about what is/is not comfortable to them, and be attentive to what is/is not comfortable to the other person before engaging in any intimate activity.  Do they know how to seek assistance if something negative happens?
  • What will they do if they do not perform as well academically as they expected themselves to? Will they seek guidance from instructors, tutoring, or other academic support?

One resource your student received at Orientation is the jump drive which contains answers to many of these questions. Explore and familiarize yourself with these resources as you ask the questions above. This critical conversation with your student will help empower them to be responsible for their success.

We look forward to seeing you and your students on campus this coming August and at Panther Family Weekend on Oct. 7. If there are ways we can continue to assist you as your student makes their way to campus, please call our office at (414) 229-4632.

Welcome to the Panther Family!

Key Links:


UWM Safewalk

UWM Police

UWM Report It