Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Information for Parents

This page is designed to help parents understand and prepare for some of the unique experiences students may have during their college years.  We hope the following information and links will provide you with valuable information about Counseling Services and other helpful resources.  If you have specific questions please contact our office at (717)291-4083.

Understanding and Supporting your College Student

College is a time of many mixed emotions for a lot of parents.  On one hand, you are excited about the experiences and growth that will be part of your student's time at Franklin & Marshall.  On the other hand, you may be anxious about all of the unknowns that your student will encounter.  Of course every student's and family's experience is going to be a bit different.  Regardless of the experience, you can do some things that will help your student have a positive college experience.

Encourage your student to develop a greater level of independence.

College professors and administrators have noticed an increased level of parental involvement in student's affairs over the last 10-15 years.  Parental support plays a huge role in the success of a college student; however, it is in the interest of your student's overall development that you are supportive in the "right" way. That is, don't confuse support with handling your student's personal or academic conflicts.  For example, if your student has a conflict with a roommate or a professor, your natural inclination may be to pick up the phone or try to resolve the problem for your student. We cannot overemphasize the importance of allowing your son or daughter to learn how to resolve adult conflicts in a mature manner.  Encourage your son or daughter to attempt to resolve the conflict on his or her own first.  You can help your student by problem solving with him or her about ways to approach the person with whom he or she is having the conflict.  Remember that your student will sometimes feel like an adult and will not want your guidance-and at other times may again turn to you for support and direction.  Think of yourself as a stable home base and a consultant, not as the person responsible to solve your student's problem.

Other ways to support your college student:

  • Stay in touch with your son or daughter.  Let them know what has been going on at home and with old friends.
  • Care packages and cards are always welcome.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Keep an open mind--your child is learning to become an independent person.
  • Remember that ideas about choice of major may change.
  • Encourage your student to get involved in something outside of class and make use of the support services on campus.
  • Gently but firmly set limits.  It is usually not helpful for new students to return home every weekend or to talk on the phone with you for hours every day.  Set up a reasonable schedule for phone calls and home visits.
  • Remember that your dreams for your child may not be his or her dreams.
  • Talk with your student about money management and academic goals.
  • Remember that younger students are very concerned about fitting in socially.
  • Talk about the use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Make the most of visits home.
  • If your student is having trouble, encourage him or her to seek support from Counseling Services.


IMPORTANT:  Information for Parents Regarding Confidentiality

Confidentiality is essential to the counseling relationship we establish and maintain with students who seek our services.  We adhere to confidentiality guidelines mandated by law as well as those required by the American Psychological Association and our professional licensing boards.  We understand and appreciate that parents often wish to be involved when their son or daughter seeks counseling; however, the confidentiality guidelines do not permit us to talk with parents about their student's participation in counseling without the student's written consent.  We cannot confirm or deny that a student has come to the Counseling Services for a counseling session or disclose the name of a counselor who might have seen the student.  However, if you are worried, you are welcome to contact Counseling Services at (717)291-4083 and share your concerns with a staff member.

Counseling Services welcomes calls from concerned parents.  We are able to discuss:

  • Developmental issues of college-age students
  • The range of services that are provided at Counseling Services
  • How to refer your son or daughter to Counseling Services
  • The names of local private mental health providers that work well with this age group
  • Other community resources that may be appropriate

If you decide to encourage your son or daughter to follow-up with an appointment, it is recommended that they make the initial contact by coming to Counseling Services or calling us at (717)291-4083 during regular office hours.  Part of the therapeutic process involves her/him taking responsibility for her/his well-being by taking the initiative to schedule an appointment.


Recommended Resources:

Letting Go:  A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years--by Karen Levin Coburn (Preface) and  Madge Lawrence Treeger.

Let the Journey Begin:  A Parent's Monthly Guide to the College Experience--by Jacqueline Kiernan MacKay.

Don't Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money--by Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller.

When Kids Go to College:  A Parent's Guide to Changing Relationships--by Barbara M. Newman and Philip Newman.

College Times:

PFLAG (Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays)