Helping vs Helicoptering
Choosing a college is a big life decision, but can you harm your student's experience by overhelping them? Here is some advice from Sarah Ballard, the executive director of the First-Year Experience and Early Outreach Programs, on when parents should offer help and how to provide it — in order to set your student up for the most successful college experience.
- Provide support and encouragement for them to reach out on their own behalf. If you receive a call or text from your student who has a problem or needs assistance, a good first question to ask is “Have you talked with your advisor?” Their advisor has campus-specific knowledge that will be helpful for your student. Their advisor can connect your student to a wide-range of campus resources, such as Financial Aid, Academic Coaching, the UK Counseling Center, tutoring and many others.
- Stress personal accountability. If your student needs assistance, your encouragement to contact us, rather than you contacting us on their behalf, is important for their growth process. We’re trying to help them achieve more on their own and gradually they will get better at these tasks – with support from you and from us. Your student listens to you more than you think, so even if they roll their eyes, your encouragement may help them connect to us. This is really important because advisors can’t help them if they don’t know they are struggling.
- Have a plan for how you will stay informed. Not only is it important to your student’s development for your student to contact us directly, but we are limited by a federal law known as the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act – or FERPA – in the information we are legally allowed to share with individuals other than the student. In short, we cannot share information about the student without the student’s written permission. This is most likely very different than the experience while your student was in high school. Please talk to your student how about you will stay informed about their progress – academic and otherwise – here at UK.
UK is also here to help with the process of becoming a Wildcat. Below is a list of resources your student can contact if they have questions.
- Contact the Office of Undergraduate Admission. The Office of Undergraduate Admission is available to assist you Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET. They can help with questions about the application process, transferring to UK, scholarship opportunities and connect prospective students with their recruiter.
- The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships is here to answer questions about the financial aid process, including completing the FAFSA, Federal work-study opportunities, loans and grants. Find your financial aid counselor. They are the place to start with questions about financing college.
- Plan your visit to campus. See our beautiful campus in person or virtually.