Ask about more than just grades! Studying and striving for good grades are important and admirable, but college has a lot more to offer than book learning. When you're trying to stay connected to your student's life, ask about some other things, too. For instance:

  • Ask about their favorite professor and what makes the instructor such a good teacher. Talking about what goes on in class aside from assignments will give you a more complete picture of your child's day-to-day experiences.
  • If your student has a job or internship, ask what they like and don't like about it. After they tell you what's on their mind, give some suggestions on how to make what they dislike easier, and offer any advice you might have on what they could look for in another position either next semester or after graduation.
  • The social aspect of college is a learning experience,too. Is your daughter in a sorority? Does your son plan campus events? Ask about them! Your student might also want to complain about a roommate or rave about a new friend, but is waiting for you to ask.
  • Has your student not chosen a major? Talk about the best and worst classes your student has taken, and work together to figure out what a good path could be. You can at least narrow it down to a few different subjects.
  • If your student is taking a class that sounds similar to one you took while you were a high school or college student, tell them what you remember about the course. Depending on the nature of the material, it's very possible that the way that particular subject is taught now is very different than the way it was taught a few decades earlier. But it could be similar. Talking about the similarities and differences will give you great insight into what is being taught, learned, and understood.
  • If you also went to college, talking about your own experiences gives your student the chance to open up to you. The most important part of keeping in tune with what your child is learning is keeping the lines of communication open and comfortable.

Learning more

Instead of grades, you can focus on learning topics such as:

  • A paper or project topic your student is currently pursuing
  • Something interesting they learned in lab
  • An interesting classroom conversation and what made it so
  • A discussion your student had with a peer, a teaching assistant or a professor
  • One of the most interesting things they've learned in class
  • Something your student learned while working on a group project
  • Research tricks that are helping your student dig up information for a paper

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