At the center of Landmark College’s educational philosophy is a firm commitment to helping students learn to advocate for themselves. Students are given explicit instruction in understanding their learning strengths and challenges, and are offered the opportunity for self-reflection at key points in their academic program.
We introduce students to various types of assistance, from assistive technology to coaching services to academic support services. In all of this support, we help our students learn to develop their own strategies and to hold themselves accountable for using those strategies.
We expect students to make use of the available resources, ask questions, and take ownership for their learning needs. Students who are strong self-advocates understand their responsibility in appropriately advocating for themselves, and they have the ability to tailor requests based on their individual situations.
The Parents’ Role
No parent wants to get a phone call from an unhappy-sounding son or daughter. Almost every parent will get at least one such call at some point. What can you do?
Lend an empathic ear. Listen nonjudgmentally, and try to understand what your student is experiencing. Validate feelings if it seems appropriate (e.g., “That must be very difficult.”).
Stay in touch. Your student is in a new and potentially overwhelming environment, and knowing that you are still there can make a difference. Letters and packages from home, email messages, text messages, IMs, and phone calls can be critical to helping a student feel comfortable and supported.
Offer encouragement. Let your student know that you have faith in him or her to make the right decisions.
Encourage your student to consider available resources for resolving problems. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the College’s support services and to encourage them to use the resources here. A great question to a student who seems to be stuck or struggling would be: “Who might you go to for help with that?”
Inquire gently. Away from home and your direct guidance for the first time, students may have trouble with medication management, require counseling to help with emerging emotional issues, or develop substance abuse problems. You can monitor these potential challenges by making gentle inquiries. Ask your student about their social life and about their physical and mental health and well-being.
Setting Family Expectations
One of the largest issues we have observed is that families experience conflict because the parents and the student do not have the same expectations. We strongly urge families to have open discussions about hopes and expectations.
We advise families to consider together:
- Expectations about class attendance, use of campus resources, and minimum standards for grades
- Overall budget, allowance, and spending money
- Frequency of telephone and email contact
- Medication issues: will prescriptions be filled at home or at college?
- Timing of student visits home
- Timing of parent visits to Landmark College
- Long-term academic aspirations and life goals
Advisors serve as the primary contact person for parents or sponsors who have questions about their academic program. The student is primarily responsible for contact with parents.