Common Challenges & Talking Points

The role of family members in the college experience is crucial. Whether students are facing a small issue or larger challenges, students will often turn to their families when having difficulties or in the event they don't, family members will often notice changes in behavior and can help students receive help. Alcohol/drugs, hazing, sexual violence, and mental health are some of the most common challenges for college students. Often times, they are also the most difficult to talk about. We have outlined some key actions, resources, and talking points to assist you as you support your student. Our hope is that you will never need this information, but in the event you do, we want you to be informed, connected, and confident on the resources available to support you and your student.

 General Conversations

  • Keep it casual
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Avoid lectures/judgment and express your feelings
  • Talk about the hypotheticals and how your student might handle a certain situation
  • Affirm your student
  • Most importantly, listen

Alcohol & Drugs

What to do

  • Discuss alcohol consumption with your student and the hazards with binge drinking.
  • Cover essential life-saving information with your student
  • Encourage your student to complete AlcoholEdu
  • Remind your student about the law and possible outcomes
  • Emphasize the importance of not drinking and driving
  • Encourage your students to watch out for their friends

Resources

Talking points

  • How will you decide whether or not to drink?
  • What role do you think alcohol will play in your college experience?
  • What will you do if you find yourself at a party where there is only alcohol to drink?
  • What will you do if your roommate drinks and/or if your room becomes a center for this type of activity?
  • What will you do if you find a student passed out in the bathroom and/or how would you handle caring for someone who is very drunk?
  • What can I/we do to help?

Mental Health

Things to look for

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Depressed mood
  • Changes in appetite or sleep schedule
  • Changes in academic performance
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness

What to do

  • Talk to your student—before they come to the University even. Be proactive and talk about medical history and the ins and outs of your family’s health.
  • Encourage your student to complete the Student Resilience Project.
  • Listen – many times, students want the opportunity to tell you about their day, how things are going, and feel love from their support system.
  • Know when to refer
    • If your student mentions anxiety or stress and it is the first time, you might listen to them, encourage them to seek out a friend to talk to, or try focusing on positive releases for their frustrations like a visit to one of the Campus Recreation facilities or trying a new club or organization. Make sure to check in with your student periodically and follow up on how they’re feeling.
    • If your student is regularly experiencing the characteristics mentioned before or if they have tried the above without success, it might be best to recommend a visit to the Counseling Center.

Resources

Talking points

  • The last time we talked you mentioned you’re feeling stressed with classes. I’m just calling to talk and see how you’re doing. How do you feel today?
  • I notice that you’ve been mentioning how hard things have been lately. Tell me more about what is going on. I’m here to listen.
  • It sounds like school is stressful right now. I just want you to know that I love you and want you to be healthy, first and foremost. How can I be supportive?
  • Everyone needs help sometimes. And it’s a good idea to take advantage of the resources on campus. Have you tried talking with someone or utilizing one of the FSU resources?

Sexual Violence

What to do

  • Make sure your student knows what consent is and that either party can change their mind at any time.
    • Positive Consent – Is this ok? Can I kiss you? What do you want to do?
    • Consent cannot be given when someone is incapacitated by drugs, alcohol, or otherwise.
    • Don’t rely on past experiences
    • Don’t assume that someone is giving consent based on clothing, flirting, or another action, like kissing
  • Talk with your student about the importance of communication during dating, relationships, and sex
  • Discuss methods to keep drinks safe while out
  • Encourage your student to take Haven
  • Encourage your students to watch out for their friends
    • Direct:  "Are you ok? Are they bothering you? Do you want to go home?"
    • Distract: Create an interruption that separates target and aggressor. "Can you help me with something? Hey, I want you to meet someone."
    • Delegate: Engage Allies. “Your friend seems uncomfortable, check on them.”
  • Report – report instances of sexual assault at http://report.fsu.edu

Resources

Hazing

Things to look for

  • Sudden change in behavior/attitude after joining an organization or team
  • Wanting to leave an organization with no explanation
  • Sudden decrease in communication with friends/family
  • Physical or psychological exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight loss, injuries, or illnesses
  • Change in sleep/eating habits
  • Increase in secrecy and unwillingness to share details

What to do

  • Know what hazing is and discuss it with your student
    • Activities meant to ‘earn’ a place within an organization or team that seem inconsistent with someone’s character or values
    • Activities that are embarrassing or mentally/physically abusive
    • Forced or coerced abuse of alcohol
    • Personal servitude or meaningless tasks
  • Encourage your student to take the Hazing Prevention Module
  • Remind your student about the law and possible outcomes
  • Report – report instances of hazing at http://report.fsu.edu

Resources

Talking points

BEFORE

  • What activities do you think you want to be involved in at school?
  • Do you know what hazing is?
  • How can you stand up or say ‘no’ if it occurs?
  • What are resources online or at school you can utilize if you experience hazing?
  • Do you know your school’s policies on hazing and consequences if caught?
  • Do you know how to report hazing?

AFTER

  • What organizations or teams are you involved in?
  • How much time are you spending on the organization or team?
  • What kinds of activities are involved in joining this group or team? Are you comfortable with all of these? Is there adult supervision and/or approval of these activities?
  • Is alcohol involved in any of these activities?
  • Have you met the organization’s advisor or coach? Do they approve of these activities?