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For Parents: Preparing Your Child for the Social Aspects of College (page 2)

By — National Association for College Admission Counseling
Updated on Feb 17, 2011

Resources to Look For

There are several resources available to students to make college successful both academically and socially, without having to drink. Some things to look for include:

  • Alcohol and other drug education--Many campuses offer alcohol or other drug prevention education. Activities range from alcohol-free campus social events to mandatory classes on alcohol education for all incoming freshman, and are either offered through health services, alcohol and other drug coordinators, or residential life.
  • Alcohol Policy--Most schools have a written policy on alcohol use and abuse. However, how and if this policy is implemented and enforced varies by school. This can be determined by talking to students or scheduling a meeting with someone from the counseling or alcohol education department.
  • Support or intervention services--If your child has a history of alcohol or other drug abuse, you may want to look at schools that offer support for recovering students. At a minimum, most schools have counselors who are available for individual counseling. Many offer support groups for students--either on campus or in the nearby community--such as AA meetings or support groups for students with a family history of substance abuse. In addition, most schools have some sort of substance-free residential options. Many schools have substance-free halls or even full dorms, and more and more schools are creating dorms specifically for recovering students, where they can live in a supportive environment with peers who have a similar history.

Where Can I Find this Information?

  • College Literature--Check the new student orientation packet or prospective student brochures. You may also want to visit your local bookstore, and find a college guide that compares schools. The Fiske Guide to Colleges and Baron's Profiles of American Colleges are both good sources.
  • College Web site--A visit to the school's Web site can tell you a lot of information about the larger environment on campus. Usually a visit to the student services section will provide information on clubs or organizations that your child can join, residential life, health education programs, and health services, including counseling services.
  • Visit the College--By visiting the colleges your son or daughter plans to attend, you may discover information that wouldn't necessarily be listed anywhere in writing. Many schools provide tours of the college that provide parents and students the opportunity to ask questions. Visit the coffee shops, lounges and other places where students hang out. Don't be afraid to stop students on campus and ask questions about what college is like. Ask what they do when they're not in class, where they hang out, etc. Most students on campus are more than happy to oblige and will most likely paint the most accurate picture.
  • Word of Mouth--Talk to other parents of students who have attended the same school your son or daughter plans to go to. Talk to your child's high school guidance counselor or other college advisor. Check the Internet for message boards, where you can read and post questions about college.

For most kids, college is a great experience--a place where they can challenge themselves in new ways and learn more about who they are and who they want to be. As parents, we want to take pleasure in this new phase in their lives and do what we can to ensure their safety and happiness, while also respecting and supporting their growing need for separation and independence while maintaining a connection.

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