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Office for Parent Programs
University of Southern California
3601 Trousdale Parkway, Student Union #200
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Phone: 213-740-2080 | Fax: 213-749-9781
Email: scparent@usc.edu

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Discussing Academic Expectations

Many students find the competition and quantity of work required in college courses a surprise. It takes time to adjust to increased academic demands and students often feel overwhelmed by the challenge. Even the brightest and best high school student will find the adjustment to college life and academics a challenge. What can parents do?

  • Listen to your student’s feelings about their classes and grades.
  • Remember that students tend to mirror back your level of anxiety. Calmness is contagious.
  • Empathize with your student’s anxiety about the workload at college.
  • Reassure your student that you know they are capable of handling college-level work.
  • Encourage your student to take the initiative to obtain help. This is very important
  • Encourage your student to talk to the professor or teaching assistant about the course that he/she is concerned with. The student should take advantage of the office hours that they provide.
  • Suggest that the student seek help through the USC Writing Center (213-740-3691), and learning enrichment workshops, and/or or by engaging a tutor at the Center for Academic Support (213-740-0776).
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  • Have your student make an appointment with their academic advisor or a faculty advisor within their major. They will be able to offer support and encouragement.
  • Study groups and mentors can also be very helpful. They can be arranged by the professor or teaching assistant in some classes.
  • If your student is still having trouble coping and are not taking suggestions, USC offers support at the Student Counseling Services, 213-740-7711.

(Source: “Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money” by Helen Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller, pages 170-179)