Elizabeth Hall

Resources for Families

The transition from high school to college can be a very difficult process for both students and parents. Students adapt to a new environment, make new friends, handle the rigors of academic life -- all without the safety net of on-site parental support. Meanwhile, parents often worry about how their students are handling the transition and seek ways they can continue to support their students from afar.

The most beneficial ways to support your student involve facilitating self-determination -- the ability to identify and understand one's needs, interests, strengths, limitations and values.

Self-determination is a critical skill for success in higher education because self-determined students:

  • Capitalize on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses;
  • Are proactive and experience less stress;
  • Are persistent and focused on goals;
  • Use support systems to creatively problem solve.

Furthermore, all of the elements of self-determination are essential skills for one to achieve any goal. Thus, college students must believe that they can be successful, be able to make logical decisions, act independently, and evaluate and adjust their actions as necessary to meet their goals and objectives.

Encourage Self-Determination in Your Student


Be there to provide support and consultation, but give your student the space to figure it out on their own. Resist the urge to "take over" the problem.

Encourage them to make connections.

Direct your student to talk with Academic Success, professors, academic advisors and others who can assist them.

Don't be afraid of mistakes.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. Let your student learn from experiences.

Realize that times have changed.

Students live in a different world than when we did at their age. They need to set their own goals and take ownership of their education.

Work together.

Academic Success welcomes parents' appropriate involvement. Recent studies suggest that active parental support fosters the development of self-determination. However, because of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), post-secondary professionals cannot share information with parents without that student's written permission. Also, be mindful of "triangulation" -- direct and honest communication with your student is the most effective way to teach them responsibility.

Trust the process.

Our role is to guide students through this developmental process in order to become independent and responsible adults.

Frequently Asked Questions

Adapted from Lehigh University, 2008 and Trinity University, 2010.

My student is working with Academic Success. Can I call and get updates about their work?

Students who attend college are considered to be adults, protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). University staff cannot talk to parents (or others) about confidential information, including academic activities and accommodations, without written consent from the student. Because parents have significant concern for, and a legitimate interest in, their children's academic performance, it's important for parents and students to arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement regarding the release of education records. We encourage parents and students to talk directly about academics, allowing the student to decide if he or she will give consent for release of information to parents.

Of course, if you have general questions about our office and the services we offer, please feel free to contact us.

What criteria are needed in order for my student to receive disability support services?

A current psycho-educational evaluation is preferred. IEP and 504 plans are acceptable, but may not be sufficient documentation depending on the accommodations being requested. Please refer to our Documentation Guidelines.

My student received academic accommodations in high school. Will they be eligible for the same accommodations at Stetson University?

Not necessarily. The documentation needs to support a history of accommodation and evidence of a current, significant functional limitation that impacts learning. The evaluation must support a link between the disability and the requested accommodation. The Academic Success Center will review documentation, and, if accommodation is warranted, meet with the student in order to determine the most appropriate accommodations. Please refer to How to Request Services.

How will my student's professors be notified of their need for accommodations?

Students who are eligible for academic accommodations must complete our online Request for Accommodations form each and every semester that they are requesting accommodations. The Academic Success Center will send an email to the professor stating that the student is eligible for academic accommodations, which outlines the type of accommodations Academic Success recommends the student to receive in the course. Accommodations cannot be provided for a class until requested and the professor is notified, and are not retroactive. Academic accommodations are determined on an individual basis, course by course.

I want my student to receive accommodations but they refuse to ask for support services. Can I sign them up for accommodations?

No. Students must request academic accommodations and other support services. This can be very frustrating for parents who have always taken an active role in their student's education. Students may want to "try it on their own" before requesting support services. Encourage your student to meet with the Academic Success Center to determine whether or not he/she should request support services. Our staff is available to help students make informed decisions.