Division of Student Affairs > Resources > Parents & Family > Family Connection News > 2021–2022 News > academic_continuity_engagement_2022

Wondering how you can Support your Student’s Academic Success?

​​​​Students don't come to college expecting that they will struggle with their academics. However, many do, especially in their first two years. While there are a number of services and supports in place at DePaul to help students succeed, they may be unaware of them or they may be overwhelmed by the prospect of seeking out support.

The office of Academic Continuity and Engagement (ACE) is here to help your student succeed academically, professionally and personally. Their team of peer and professional staff work to support undergraduate student success by addressing barriers, cultivating skills and developing success plans that encourage academic excellence and retention. The office connects students to campus resources that empower them to achieve their goals, but ACE can't do it alone. Parents and families are in a unique position to help: Will you join us by becoming an ally to your student's success?

1.       Check in with your student about their physical and mental health

Most parents are used to asking their kids how they're doing, but the response is often a brief “I'm good" or “I'm tired." Don't let it stop there. Ask your student how they are taking care of themselves. For example, if they say I'm good, respond with “What kind of healthy foods have you been eating," or “Tell me about your exercise routine this week." Prod them to share more information about these activities and then encourage them to pay attention to these things.

This is particularly important around midterms and finals. During this time you might also consider sending your student a care package filled with healthy snacks and tools to help them sleep better or relax. You can put one together yourself, or you can order packages from DePaul's partner, OCM.

2.       Check in with your student about their goals.
By the time a student comes to college, most have goals for themselves, and you may be familiar with them. However, do you know what steps your student is taking to 'maintain a 3.0 GPA' or 'go to law school'? These longer term goals need to be broken down into smaller steps. After a couple of quarters in college, you may ask your student “are you keeping that 3.0 GPA?" If the answer is no, help them work through what steps can they take over the next couple of quarters to get closer to that goal. Remind them that they can visit ACE to access resources that will support their goal. They can also work with ACE to better define goals and the milestones they need to hit along the way. If they aren't ready to talk to a transfer peer mentor, success coach or retention specialist in ACE, they can visit the Student Success web page to peruse DePaul's available resources and seek them out on their own (with your help).

​​3.       Keep your eyes open for signs that your student may be struggling

 Even the best interviewers asking the best open-ended questions might not get all the information they need from their student about their current state of affairs. Should this happen to you, here are some things to ask about or look out for:

Physical Red Flags

  • Loss of appetite/overeating
  • Exhaustion/insomnia
  • High frequency of illnesses
  • Increased nail biting, scratching or other anxious behaviors

Mental Red Flags

  • Increased irritability
  • Changes in behavior/communication patterns
  • Loss of interest in social activities/friendships
  • Loss of interest in things that previous brought them joy & fulfillment
  • Anxiety/depression

Academic Related Red Flags

  • Detachment
    • Lack of productivity
    • Lack of attendance/participation
    • Inability to concentrate on schoolwork
    • Incapable of meeting important deadlines
  • Lack of creativity in class discussions/projects
  • Loss of confidence in their academic abilities

What can you do?

  • Tell your student what concerning behaviors you are seeing: “I've noticed that you seem to get irritated more quickly than usual. I wonder if that's because you are under a lot of stress right now?"
  • Help them identify the source of their stress. You can explore relationships, academics, finances, general wellness and goals/plans, among other things.
  • Once stress and stressors have been identified, encourage them to do the following:
    • If they have a specific stressor, is there anything they can do to alleviate that stress? If it's a looming deadline, can they get an extension? In the future, can they begin their assignment earlier so they don't feel so much pressure? If they are having difficulty with the assignment description or course material, can they visit their professor during office hours?
    • The following practices can help with general stress that can't be immediately alleviated:
      • Practice mindfulness: be present in all things
      • Plan ahead
      • Set boundaries: Nobody can do everything, so it's ok to say no sometimes.
      • Take regular breaks
      • Reach out for help

Most students will have some struggles during their college years, but these do not have to derail their dreams of academic, personal and professional success. With a little bit of support they can identify and address their worries and get back on track. If they or you are unsure of where to go or how to start, they can always reach out to their transfer peer mentor, success coach or retention specialist in the office of Academic Continuity and Engagement. For more information about ACE or the information in this article, contact ace@dep​aul.edu.