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Ten Pieces of Advice for Incoming Xavier Families

Jul 26, 2022

Xavier University's Parent Leadership Council is comprised of families who remain active and engaged with the University through personal philanthropy, advocacy and engagement. The Dilger Family (4 years of Xavier experience) and the Kim Family (6 years of Xavier experience) have served on Parent Leadership Council.

Read on to find out what they think all incoming families should know as new members of the Xavier Family.

Tip #10: Study the support system.

You are not alone in supporting your student along their college journey. Far from it, actually. Most universities dedicate an abundance of resources to helping your student navigate the college landscape and Xavier is no different. Each student at Xavier is assigned a student success coach and academic advisor to help them make the most of their Xavier experience. Manresa peer counselors and resident assistants both offer a student perspective on questions or issues. The key for parents is understanding which resources are available and guiding your student to those resources when necessary.

What they’re saying:

“I attended a parents meeting where I learned about the student services offered and I told my daughter to take advantage of that. Her advisor helped her think about what she wanted to study because she had a lot of different interests. It was a good way to get her to focus in on what she wanted.” -Jenny Kim


Tip #9: Use text messages to comfort homesick kids.

It’s perfectly natural for students to feel homesick during their first few years in college. Students may miss the familiarity of their home environment or the comfort of being at home in familiar spaces. Experienced Xavier parents suggest encouraging students to stay active in campus life so they feel like they belong in their new environment. Exchanging text messages can provide students with a gentle reminder that you are thinking about them. But some parents warn of the dangers of overcommunication.

What they’re saying:

“Texting is great because you don’t have the voice component that can make them feel more homesick. It just lets them know that we’re still thinking about them.” -Sarah Dilger


Tip #8: Get to know Xavier’s website.

There is a treasure trove of information available to families on Xavier’s website. Several Xavier families have found the calendar page in particular to be helpful for having conversations about Xavier campus events with their students. Still others point to the housing and registration pages which contain comprehensive and detailed information written specifically for families. Few parents are familiar with the Xavier Parent and Family Hub, which can be an excellent way to keep up with Xavier news, events and announcements.

What they’re saying:

“We were a little bit in the dark with housing at that kind of stuff. Xavier’s website has gotten better about sharing information since our son first started and we’ve definitely seen that. The improvements in the website over time has been helpful. I hope all parents start with the website when they’re looking for information.” -Sarah Dilger


Tip #7: See distance as an opportunity for growth.

Whether you’re from Cincinnati or you’re new to the region, experienced Xavier parents say it’s important to see the distance between home and campus as an opportunity for student personal growth. Each Xavier students will experience Cincinnati in a new light due to the freedoms and new friendships that come with living on a college campus. Letting your student initiate conversations about coming home for the holidays is an easy way to acknowledge shifting dynamics of independence and responsibility.

What they’re saying:

“We’re from Indiana, roughly an hour and 45 minutes away from Xavier. It really worked out to be a perfect distance. I think for Emily, it was a good amount of space. She embraced Cincinnati and came to love the campus.” -Jenny Kim


Tip #6: Set boundaries through Canvas.

It’s easy for first-time college parents to feel the need to become overly involved with their student’s academic success. While Xavier parents say some involvement is important, setting boundaries and expectations for involvement will benefit parents and students alike. Many parents may already be familiar with Canvas, a tool for checking grades and progress on courses. College is different from high school, so parents say the level of involvement and the responsibility dynamic should shift accordingly.

What they’re saying:

“We just took the approach of, ‘we’re going to watch and make sure your grades are alright, but if you have a problem, then you need to tell us.’ It’s fine to make sure everybody is up and running in those first couple of weeks, but they need to be able handle seeing their professor and taking responsibility for their education.” -Craig Dilger


Tip #5: Relax on Move-in Day.

Between checking checklists, packing boxes and selecting the perfect dorm mini fridge, the process of moving your son or daughter into their college dorm can be daunting, especially for parents going through the process for the first time. If you haven’t heard, Xavier’s student-led Move Crew does all they can to make the process easy, at least on the front end. Upon arriving to Xavier, a team of more than a dozen students will warmly greet your family. They will unpack your car and move your student’s belongings into their room for you. You won’t have to lift a single box.

What they’re saying:

“They told us before we got here to have everything organized in Rubbermaid (containers) and labeled, which we really didn’t understand until we got up there and everybody started pulling stuff out of the car. It was fantastic.” -Craig Dilger


Tip #4: Encourage socialization.

Making friends can be one of the more difficult aspects of adjusting to college life for students. Xavier parents recommend encouraging students to take advantage of Xavier clubs, events and activities early on if a student finds themselves having trouble making friends. Xavier offers more than 130 clubs and activities for students. If your student has a unique interest or hobby, there is likely a club full of similar people there waiting for them.

What they’re saying:

“Our son checked out everything and got involved early. He took advantage of the whole Manresa experience. He even did bird watching. He met some really nice people and he’s still friends with a lot of them after graduation.” -Sarah Dilger


Tip #3: Support the job search.

Taking a hands-off approach with incoming first-year students is generally a good way to allow young adults to establish independence. But things get a little different when it comes time to begin the job search. Indeed, several Xavier parents recommend getting involved with a student’s search for post-graduate employment. Helping your student by leveraging pre-existing personal and professional relationships can make all the difference in the world when it comes to navigating the job marketing and landing the first real work opportunity after college.

What they’re saying:

“Start looking for internships early. Our son worked at the Attorney General’s office in Kentucky through my husband's connection and that worked out well. There are lots of connections here at Xavier that can help students get their foot in the door.” -Sarah Dilger


Tip #2: Put yourself in their world.

It’s rare for parents to spend time on their son or daughter’s college campus, so it’s important to make the most of those opportunities when they arise. Experienced Xavier parents recommend taking time to familiarize oneself with their student’s world when possible. Meet their friends. Know their commute to classes. Walk through their residence hall. Xavier parents say these little details will help later when connecting with students who may be hundreds of miles away.

What they’re saying:

“Try to be in their environment so you can become familiar with their world. Walk around the campus. Get yourself comfortable knowing their friends so that when you’re home, you can be a part of these conversations.” -Jenny Kim


Tip #1: No major? No problem.

First year students may feel pressure to declare a major right away. They may feel behind other classmates or feel the need to gain admittance to a college from day one. Xavier parents will tell you and your student there’s no need to rush. Declaring exploratory or changing majors after a year is a standard part of the college experience for many students. As a Jesuit Catholic university, Xavier places heavy emphasis on the concept of vocational discernment. Through Manresa, Xavier students are given the space and resources to reflect on their career path. Students can take core classes early then focus on their major-specific areas as upper classmen.

What they’re saying:

“For future parents, I would say it’s not really important what their major is on the first day of school. Our son got through two years and then switched. His counselors helped him find something he really wanted to do. They did a really nice job.” -Craig Dilger

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