First-Year Transitions – Supporting Your Student

Our Academic Calendar can be found here.


The academic adjustment from high school to college can sometimes be tricky. In high school, students oftentimes had little control over their schedules and both their teachers and families helped keep them on track. Once they begin college, they will be expected to track their own work and progress. Students who advocate for themselves, get involved, and take advantage of support services are students who are more likely to be successful!

Tip of the Month:  You can support your student by talking with them about the differences between high school and college.

Three areas to discuss are:

  • Have they read their syllabus for each class they are taking
  • Classes and assignments (attendance policies, fewer assignments than in high school)
  • Expectations outside the classroom (free time vs. study time, finding help, co-curricular  activities)
  • Tracking their assignments (getting organized)
  • Do they have a calendar to track their classes and activities?
  • Relationships with professors (going to office hours, reading their syllabus, taking initiative, writing emails to professors)


July is a good time to talk with your student about how much you want to communicate with each other during the upcoming year. Some students may want to talk every day, others may not. Talk with your student not only about how much you will communicate but also how you communicate. Will it be via phone, text, email, or social media? All of these are great ways of staying connected without taking up too much time. It’s important that you and your student come to an agreement and revisit the communication plan throughout the year.

Tip of the Month:  Here are some conversation starters before your student arrives on campus.

  • What are you excited about?
  • What are you nervous about?
  • What do you want to accomplish in your first year at Allegheny? — Most students will say “good grades”, but encourage your student to think broadly and also consider what they want to do outside the classroom!
  • Budget/Family Finances: — Make sure your student knows how to manage their expenses. Work with them to develop a budget and talk about how and what they will spend money on while away from home.


As the school year begins, students are going to realize that almost everything in their life is about to change. Residential students will be living, eating, and sleeping in a brand new space around people they may not know. Commuter students will be traveling to campus and figuring out places to spend their time. All students will be dealing with new financial situations, making new friends, and learning how to balance their time. Change is good, but it can be a challenge! Give yourself and your student time to process the change and the adjustment that comes along with it.

Tip of the Month: Encourage your student to get involved and attend as many welcome events as they are able so that they can find their place on campus!


Within the first five to six weeks of college, students will start patterns that will either help them be successful or contribute to possible problems. When they face disappointment, either over choices they’ve made or on their academic performance.  Some may believe that the best solution is to quit and go home – or have their families solve their problems. They may become discouraged and can only see the problem in front of them, not the successes they have already achieved.

Tip of the Month:  Empower your student to seek answers to their questions!  This will not only help them to learn about campus resources, but it will also give them confidence in their problem-solving skills.

Blue and Gold Weekend:  Looking to visit your student and see how they’ve gotten involved?  Join us for Blue and Gold Weekend 2024. Visit us for more information and details.


A regular check-in by families – either in person or by phone – can oftentimes provide insight to a student’s health, social adjustment, and coursework. Show support and interest in their studies and activities. As the semester progresses, they’ll continue receiving valuable feedback from professors and other individuals on campus. Remind them to utilize that feedback and campus resources! Most importantly, celebrate their good decisions and the progress they have made since starting college.

Tip of the Month:  Now is the time to start the FAFSA application for the 2025-2026 academic year.  Visit the official government student aid website for more information.


Where did the time go? As the semester draws to a close, the focus shifts to final projects and tests that are just a few short weeks away. This can be a time when students face a tremendous amount of pressure both in and out of the classroom, and expectations are running high. There are also competing factors for your student’s attention, with campus life events and end-of-the-semester programs.

Tip of the Month:  Thanksgiving break can be a good time for your student to rejuvenate and refocus on what is left of the semester.

  • Ask about or go over your students grades for each class with them.  Discuss final exams and exam schedules with your student.
  • Reiterate to your student the importance of getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and taking time to relax.
  • Students will also begin registering for spring classes this month. Make sure they have met with their academic advisor, their Class Dean, and checked their Self-Service account for any outstanding balances or account holds.


December can oftentimes bring a mix of anxiety about finals and excitement about holidays and winter break. This time of year can also induce stress, and when students return home during break, they will most likely be exhausted. Give your student time to adjust and decompress from a busy semester!

Tip of the Month:  Before your student returns home, remember to discuss expectations for living back at home.

  • Will they have a curfew?  How much time do you expect them to spend with friends versus with family?  Will they have responsibilities around the house?
  • This is also a good time for your student to start thinking about summer leadership opportunities, such as applying to be an Orientation Leader.
  • They will also need to start thinking about where they want to live next year! Housing information will come out when students return for the spring semester.
  • Create a plan for success for the upcoming semester (looking at syllabi, getting organized before the next semester begins)


Feeling connected to people on campus helps students feel connected to the university and gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility for their education. The relationships formed at college can be pivotal parts of a successful adjustment for students. All students grow and mature at different paces, and that can mean that old friendships and relationships begin to take on a different role in a student’s life. These changes are normal and positive!

Tip of the Month:  Encourage your student to:

  • Join student clubs and organizations. There is something for everyone!
  • Talk to other people in their classes.
  • Visit offices like Student Life and Engagement to find out how to get involved and make connections.
  • Stay connected to myAllegheny to know what’s going on around campus that they can get involved in.


Now that your student has completed one semester and is immersed in semester two, they may have a better idea of what study skills they want to work on. Academic resources on campus offer assistance in improving different skills, such as note-taking and preparing more effectively for assignments or exams. Academic support resources are for all students and the most successful students are those who take advantage of the resources available to them on campus.

Tip of the Month:  It can be helpful to students for their families to be familiar with the support services on campus, so that you can help refer them to the appropriate resources.  Some of those resources include:


Safety is one of the top concerns families have for their college student, no matter the time of year or how long their student has been on campus. The topic of safety is broad, and also includes emotional and personal well-being. Every person at Allegheny College plays a role in student safety, from being welcoming to other members of the Allegheny community, using resources that are available to help promote safety and being diligent about practicing self-care.

Tip of the Month:  Remind your student to:


Better weather is here! Even though we are well into the semester, spring can oftentimes feel like the time for new beginnings and a renewed sense of freedom. Your student may be looking for new ways to get involved on campus, or they may get into a new relationship. With the end of the academic year just around the corner, life can intensify quickly for students, both academically and personally. April also means Springfest, which is organized by the Major Events Committee (MEC). Events often include an annual theme, entertainment, games, free food, and t-shirts.  Allegheny’s first spring festival began in 1929.  As the semester draws to a close, the focus shifts to final projects and exams that are just a few short weeks away.

Tip of the Month:  Is your student prepared for finals?  Are they thinking about taking summer classes?

    • If so, remind them to meet with their academic advisor or Class Dean to talk about course offerings and options. This is also a good time to begin thinking about what classes they will be taking in the fall.
    • Ask your student where their grades stand for each class.  Discuss their upcoming final exams and exam schedule.


The summer between the first and second years of college can be a time of deep reflection. Students will sometimes return home different than when they left, and the reflection that students will do over the summer can lead to conflicts or confusion among all family members. Many students feel unsure of where they belong; their place within the family has changed, but they are still family. Their primary identity likely is that of a college student, but they are not currently at college. It’s not clear what it all means, and they may not be sure how to handle their discomfort, given that they will be back in college in a couple of months.

Tip of the Month:  Families play a huge role in supporting their students.

Allow your student time to understand their new role in the home, while also maintaining the sense of familiarity and values that have been established in your family in the past.