Dr. Allen BonnerBy Dr. Allen Bonner

This year has definitely not been what one would call “typical”. This viral pandemic has made sure of that. Many people have been affected by the virus in various ways, but one group of individuals most affected are students. College seniors who graduated in May had no idea that they would not get to have the final normal experiences many of their friends and family members had in the past, for example, Honors Convocation, or probably the most important….graduation. Thankfully so many members of the administration, faculty, and staff have pulled together to allow for some normalcy, such as classes continuing online, an online awards day, and virtual graduation. Since most students have had to continue their work online and off campus, this means parents, guardians, and families are most likely having a more present and involved role in the education process.

For many recent college graduates, there is also the uncertainty that comes with job hunting, and beginning their adult lives on their own post-graduation. Many graduates who had jobs lined up in their fields are facing indefinite start dates, or their jobs no longer exist. For others, they receive the same response to their job applications or inquiries – companies are in a hiring freeze until the economy recovers and things are back to “normal”. Students and graduates are facing unprecedented challenges, and, unfortunately, the operative word for the foreseeable future is “uncertainty”. Here are some tips for parents on how to support their students and new graduates in regards to navigating these unusual times.


Parents should:

Listen, support, and understand – Students need to know their concerns are valid and heard. Parents can make sure students have a solid sounding board for processing their thoughts and offering guidance and feedback…when solicited. These are such unique times, so even though none of us have had to deal with a crisis like this on such a large scale, we can listen to others and hear the students express their concerns.

Show interest and be encouraging – It is important to check on the students. Show a genuine interest in their subjects and activities. We all love when people ask us about ourselves, our school, our social activities, and our work. Students and their parents having dialogue with each other will allow for the parents to feel involved and will show the students that they have a confidant(s).

Trust, have an open mind, and don’t push – It can be difficult to stand back sometimes. Parents want to help and have probably had many years of being involved with their kids’ social and academic lives, but this is a time to let students continue to gain their independence. As stated above, show interest and have dialogue with your children, but trust that they can achieve whatever goals they have set for the future. Sometimes other people’s plans do not look like our plans, and that is ok. It can be difficult to not push someone in the direction we think they should go, but if we push too hard, sometimes the students can push harder in the opposite direction.

Keep busy and don’t take it personally – It will help the students to see other people’s lives continuing normally, so if parents can continue to stay busy with their own activities such as hobbies and work, that could help the students also feel normal and that they can do the same. Everyone is having to figure out their new schedule and new normal. Also, do not take it personally if students do not include you on every decision or inform you of everything. Everyone’s relationships are different, but many students had been living relatively independent lives, so they may not be used to such involvement from parents, guardians, or family members. Getting used to having your student or graduate at home full time, instead of only during sporadic weekends or holidays, can be challenging, to say the least. Everyone should work together to navigate through this temporary situation, and try to find the silver lining. Remember to extend grace to yourself, and to your student. We are all trying to adjust and cope with the changes.

Final take away

Remind students that this too shall pass, and everyone is in the same boat. In the grand scheme of things, the memories they have made cannot be taken from them. They are still obtaining their degrees and moving forward to great things! They will always be the most unique graduating class. If they are still enrolled in school in summer classes, remind them to:

  • Inquire with teachers/advisors about any concerns and do not procrastinate.
  • Reach out to the Office of Student Support for direction to various services provided (counseling, advising, tutoring, disability, and career services)
  • To set a daily routine just like if school was back to normal. (Study, attend class, exercise, eat, sleep, etc.)
  • Stay involved with church, friends, and University clubs and activities.
  • Take time to be outside and away from technology every now and then.

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