The transition to university life can be challenging, and this is true for both students and families. The New Student and Family Programs Office is here to talk about common challenges students and families face, as well as offer tips to make that transition easier for both of you. As a first-year Berklee family member, these tips focus on how to help your student navigate their transition leaving home, potentially for the first time. While some of these conversations can be difficult, it’s important to continue to have these conversations with your student both before and after they arrive at Berklee.
Tips to Support Your Student
Time Management and Campus Resources
At home, your student may have been involved in a variety of after-school activities, managed their homework, and had a vibrant social life. Sometimes they had help from you as their family and support system, and other times they balanced these activities on their own. The key to their success at Berklee will be utilizing the different resources that campus has to offer. These can be related to study skills, tutoring for a specific class, nutrition, finances, making friends, etc. Letting your student know about these resources allows you to continue to be part of their support system by guiding them towards resources on campus who can help build these important skills. While we will be educating students on these resources at orientation and throughout the year, when they are in the middle of their semester or a high-pressure time of the year, it can be good to have those resources reinforced from someone in their support system. We’ve made it easy to stay informed about resources on campus by developing the Berklee Family Resource Guide. This guide works in conjunction with the guide your student receives as either a Berklee College of Music student or a Boston Conservatory at Berklee student. We recommend going through the guides together as a family prior to arriving at Berklee and then referring back throughout the year.
One of the major differences between high school and college is how information is shared with the families of students. Official information regarding your students grades, conduct, financial information, deadlines, and so on, all go through your student. If your student chooses to grant you access to this information, they can sign a FERPA release form. Regardless of your student choosing to grant you access to this official information, it is important to encourage your student to practice self-advocacy. Seeking help can be challenging, but for the student attending Berklee, it's important. They may be used to you calling an office to find out more information, but encourage them to reach out to ask questions since they have to be partners in making decisions that affect them and their educational experience. A great way to help you keep a pulse on what’s going on at the Berklee campus is through our Family Newsletter, which can help you stay up to date on when midterms and finals are coming, as well as a variety of events that offices around campus are holding to help support your student.
Stress and Healthy Coping Skills
As a family member of a Berklee student, you may notice that your student is experiencing stress regarding their classes, their practice time, making friends, etc. It's important to encourage your students to take time to de-stress and take care of their health and well-being. This could be encouraging "chill time," where they take a break from their studies to relax or join a club or organization on campus to help make friends who are interested in the same things they are. It is also important to have conversations regarding their mental health and well-being.
If you notice that your student is struggling socially, academically, or with their mental health there are a variety of resources on campus that they can use. Encouraging them to visit a counselor on campus if they are having difficulty coping with stressful situations in their personal or academic journey. Health and Wellness also offers a variety of resources related to your student’s overall well-being. There are also options for tutoring services if they are struggling with their classes, both for drop-in appointments and scheduled weekly tutoring sessions.
If your student is experiencing an urgent crisis and you’re unsure who to reach out to, you can always contact Public Safety at 617-747-8888 or via the Rave Guardian app to have them respond to an emergency at any time.
Not only is it important for your student to make connections with others at Berklee, it's also important for them to remain connected with their family and support systems. Staying connected is important, and you can do this through phone calls, emails, texting, Zoom, FaceTime, and by sending them mail to campus. As a family member, it’s important to remember that your student may not not always be available or in a space to talk, but giving them the opportunity to share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings on their Berklee experience is important. It also lets them know that you're still thinking of them while they are away from home.
The first year of college is an exciting time, but it can also be filled with a lot of change very quickly, which can lead to feelings of insecurity and comparison. It's important to encourage your students to think about their own journey as a student and a musician and not to compare themselves to others. The goal of Berklee is for students to see their peers as future collaborators, not competition. Berklee students come in with a varying degree of experience, and it's important for students to focus on their own journey in order to succeed. They may feel that they are the only person experiencing these feelings; however, it is important to remind them that they are not alone. The highs and lows of college are normal, and it's important to celebrate their accomplishments along the way.
Getting involved is an important part of the student experience. At Berklee it's an opportunity to meet new people, attend events, and explore interests both inside and outside of music to give student's a break. Often students find that attending a music institution means that music is no longer an outlet to de-stress the same way it was when they were at home. Their music and other areas of study become part of their job and joining a club is a way to find something that's fun and enjoyable for them. The Center for Campus Life is a great place to start. Encourage your student to check out student clubs, community service opportunities, and other opportunities for engagement.