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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

What Can Parents Do?

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What Can Parents Do To Promote Good Behavior At College?


The first year is a time of tremendous change and adjustment, but you will remain an important part of your student’s life. Expect highs and lows, especially when you get those first few phone calls. The first six weeks are critical – keep in touch! You likely have more power and influence than you think.


Studies show parents and college students often communication by phone or email:
  • 30.7% talk daily (~8% >than once a day)
  • 41.8% talk 2-3 times a week
  • 80% of parents initiate conversation 50% or more of the time
    - College Parents of America, 1,722 college parent responses

Sample of 10,000 high school seniors and first-year students at 24 colleges
  • 70% of students communicated frequently with at least one parent
  • 75% followed parents’ advice!!!
  • Kuh NSSE student (2007)

No doubt you thought to tell your student that academics are important and that you expect satisfactory grades, especially if you are helping out financially. Remember to discuss your expectations of behavior both on and off-campus. Continuance at the University requires adherence to both academic and behavioral standards.


Even if you don’t think your student drinks, it is important to initiate a discussion about the subject. Do not glorify any youthful experience with alcohol or drugs. Be careful not to give the message that it is okay to drink if you don’t get caught.



Suggested conversation starters include:
  • What will influence your decision about whether or not to drink in college?
  • What will you do if you are at a party with nothing to drink except alcohol?
  • What reasons can you give if friends are pressuring you to drink?
  • How will you handle it if your roommate wants to drink and party all the time?
  • What should you do if a friend falls asleep or passes out from drinking too much?
  • What is your definition of high risk drinking?
  • What are the legal, disciplinary, academic and vocational consequences of drinking?


Nationwide, the number of students who drink has decreased over last two decade; but more students are drinking heavily and engaging in high risk behavior.



 High risk behavior includes:
  • Underage drinking
  • Drinking to get drunk
  • Mixing alcohol with medication or illegal drugs
  • Drinking alcohol out of a punch bowl, funnel or hose
  • Playing drinking games, e.g. beer pong
  • Drinking too fast
  • Drinking jello shots, combining energy drinks and caffeine with alcohol
  • Leaving your drink unattended
  • Socializing with friends who are heavy drinkers
  • Driving under the influence or riding with someone who has been drinking
  • Leaving inebriated friends unattended