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[Fresh] How is my son or daughter doing?

How is my son or daughter doing at Villanova?

This is a question we hear frequently from the parents of first year students, so we've developed some FAQs that might be helpful. Generally, Villanova students are bright and motivated and have a great experience at Villanova. They usually get through the usual rocky patches with not difficulty. If your son or daughter seems happy and is getting decent grades, you can probably relax. However, here are some questions about more complicated situations.

Q. Will Villanova notify me if my son or daughter isn't doing well?

A. For a number of reasons, we prefer to deal directly with our students, and we assume that the students themselves will communicate with the parents. For the most part, then, you will not hear from us about your son or daughter's progress. The Office of the Dean of Students does contact parents if students are put on probation (or receive a more serious sanction) for a drug or alcohol violation. If the student is in an emergency situation, we'll be sure that the student calls you or - of course - if the student can't call, you'll be contacted.

Q. My son is really struggling with some of his classes. He was always a great student in high school but he is having a lot of difficulty in college. What can he do?

A. Generally, the first semester of college is a huge transition for students, so this is not a completely uncommon situation. The obvious suggestion is for the student to seek help, but some of our students do have some difficulty asking for help when they need it. The first resource is always the professor. All Villanova professors have posted office hours, and the student should either visit the professor at the office hours or make an appointment to see the professor at some other time. If a student is more comfortable with his or her academic adviser, the student should also see that person. For difficulties with writing or mathematics, the student can also go to the Writing Center or the Math Learning Resource Center. Many students have difficulty with knowing how to study and with managing time. These students can check in with the Study Skills Counselor:
http://www.villanova.edu/studentlife/counselingcenter/ This program offers individual help and also classes on topics such as test taking.

Q. My daughter says that she is doing OK in her classes, but she is not really very happy with her life on campus. What should she do?

A. As we always say, college usually is a good experience but it doesn't happen all at once. If she lives on campus, the first step would be to talk to the RA (Resident Assistant) in the Residence Hall. The RA is trained to refer the student for a variety of services. Some of these services are listed on this resource page for parents:http://www.villanova.edu/studentlife/specprograms/parents/ Students can also contact their Orientation Counselor. This upperclassmen often has many connections throughout campus and can help students navigate some of the ins and outs of campus life. If that doesn't help, she should approach some of these offices directly. The Office of the Dean of Students is a good place to start. They can make helpful referrals to other services.

Q. My son says he is not sure he is in the right program. What should he do?

A. Often our freshman students are under tremendous pressure from the world around them to be able to explain their future career plans to anyone who asks. (Of course, we all know that many students have no idea what they want to do for a career, and even the ones who think they have an idea often change those ideas.) So there is an intense pressure on students to pick a major that seems focused on a specific career. Sometimes we see students who are in pre-med, nursing, engineering, or business who are in those programs not because they are especially interested in those careers but because they feel that they must have their career plans worked out before they enter college. Again, the academic adviser can be very helpful in discussing these questions. Each college also has an advising center, and students can also go there for additional guidance. A student who is worried about careers and majors can check in with Career Services, and they can help students think more realistically about careers. Of course the first thing they will tell the student is that, "Your major is not necessarily your career." Their website is: http://www.villanova.edu/studentlife/careers/

Q. My son says he LOVES Villanova and that he is having a great time. I'm worried, however, that he is having a terrific time socially but that his grades may be suffering. It isn't that I don't trust him, but I'd like some independent indication of how he is doing academically. How would I get that?

A. Your question is not untypical. Given the greater freedom of college life, some of our students can be a bit unrealistic about how things are going. The fact that they have fewer tests and fewer graded homework assignments can also mean that they don't get as much feedback on their progress as they got in high school. And a few of the less mature students sometimes have a tendency not to be completely up front with their parents about their academic work.

There are several things you might keep your eye on. The first indication is mid-term grades. Many faculty members post a mid-term grade. These grades are posted on Novasis, which is our student record system, and they are usually available about a week or two after fall break. So if you haven’t heard anything by now, it is a good time to ask your son or daughter since it is more than likely they received most of their mid term grades by now. You might ask your son to show you his mid-term grades on Novasis. Three of the colleges - Arts and Sciences, Business, and Nursing - also send a mid-term warning letter to first year students who are doing poorly in their academic work. These letters are typically sent to the student both at the home address and at Villanova. So, if a letter arrived in October from your son's Academic Dean, you might ask your son what is in the letter.

Final grades - which come out just around Christmas -- are a definite moment of truth for a few first year students. Again, they will be posted on Novasis, and so you should check in with your son about how his grades were. A student who does poorly during the first semester is put on academic probation. Most of them straighten out in their second semester. A few who really aren't ready for college work continue to do poorly, and may be asked to take some time off to gain some additional maturity.

Q. I am worried about my daughter's academic progress? May I contact my daughter's teachers myself?

A. It is not a good idea for you to contact professors directly. Part of the problem is a legal one. There are very strict Federal regulations about what kind of information can be given out about students. A professor typically does not know whether he or she is authorized to discuss a student's records with a parent, and also does not know whether the person who has called is in fact the parent. In general, professors want to deal directly with the students themselves.

Q. I'm worried about my son? When is it appropriate for me to call, and who should I call?

A. If there are problems, the first thing for the parent to do is to advise the student to seek help. Generally speaking, the parent should get involved in one of three cases. 1) The student is in trouble but doesn't seem to be reaching out for help. 2) The student has reached out for help, but the issue wasn't resolved. 3) The parent is concerned that the student is not being completely candid about the situation. In those cases, the parent should call either the Office of the Dean of Students (for personal concerns) or the Office of the Academic Dean of the student's particular college (in other words, if the student is in Arts and Sciences, call the office of the Office of the Dean of Liberal Arts and Science). The staff members in these offices are extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and they can also refer questions to one of the Assistant or Associate Deans. Again, many of the resources are listed on the page below:





Sue Ciccone

Director of New Student Orientation,

Assistant for Special Projects

Villanova University

207 Dougherty Hall