As we have been discussing all week in the Daily Deac, there are so many resources on campus to help your students. The last one we want to talk about is in many ways the most important (and sometimes overlooked one): the students themselves.
Our students are smart and resourceful. They come to college as capable people, and they will leave as even more capable. One of the tough but critical lessons of college is how to figure out how to do things for yourself. Problem-solving is a skill they will need for the rest of their lives.
So when your student comes to you with questions or problems or frustrations, it would be easy for you to tell him/her the best way to proceed (talk to your professor! go get a tutor! look at this web site where I searched and found the answer! etc.). Instead though, help your student learn to be his/her own best advocate by asking some probing questions:
That sounds like a tough situation. What have you thought about doing?
What offices on campus might you go to look for help?
Who have you talked to/might you talk to about his?
What have you found out on your own via searching the web site?
What options have you been considering?
etc. etc. etc.
When you put the ball back into his/her court, you are helping your student develop self-advocacy and problem solving skills. You are also sending the message that you trust your student to be able to make wise decisions.
And after your student has decided on his/her course of action, let your student do the leg work him/herself. If that means making a phone call, sending an email, going to an office to talk to an administrator, etc. have your student do it. Not you. Even if you have all the time in the world and could easily handle the situation on your own, resist that temptation.
When your student gripes to you about everything he/she has to do (and it sounds like they want you to step in), it might well just be your student venting to get it out of his/her system. That does not mean it has to be a call to action for you.
Should your student directly ask you to help fix the problem – or even just hint about how pressed for time he/she is: I have tests, I am busy, I am stressed, it’s raining and that office is across campus, I need to study for this test – hold your ground and don’t try to fix it yourself. When your student leaves WF for good, he/she is going to have to manage multiple priorities and deadlines and demands for time. The earlier your student can learn to manage those details, the better.
You can say instead “You sound like you have a lot on your plate, but I know you can handle it.” And then try to put it out of your mind and let your student do the work.
What your student learns from problem-solving and self-reliance will matter more in the long term than a quick solution from home. Maturity is built through personal experience.
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