College is both serious business and good healthy fun. Your student probably will
play harder and work harder at Western Carolina University (WCU) than ever before.
What your student experiences and learns in their few years as a Catamount will help to shape the rest of his or her life. Some of their most important lessons will involve learning how to handle responsibility. Their biggest challenge in the first six months will be for your student to develop the self-control and self-discipline that must gradually replace parental control and discipline.
Sometimes those lessons can be hard. Your student will discover, perhaps painfully, that there are consequences when he or she fails to meet the responsibilities that accompany freedom. As parents, you probably will feel that discomfort as acutely as your student, but this is the time for your student to face the consequences of his or her own actions.
Some of you may call me when your student has problems or gets into trouble. While we
will be happy to talk to you, I will also challenge you to let your student take responsibility
for his or her situation. We respect your student as an adult and we will be happy
to meet and talk with your student to discuss their situation. This is part of the
maturation process that develops your student into a responsible adult.
At the WCU Police Department, we encourage a community spirit both on and off campus. Our students are challenged to think individually and act communally. As a simple first step, whether your student lives in a residence hall or in the surrounding neighborhoods, you may want to encourage him or her to take the initiative and get to know his or her neighbors. If a neighbor, roommate, or classmate needs help, encourage your student to “jump in” and lend a hand. It is no longer acceptable to “do your own thing” without thinking about other people. Commensurately, your son or daughter needs to be aware when his or her behavior infringes on the rights of others.
The Catamount spirit means pursuing personal interests, while keeping an eye out for the welfare of the larger community. We encourage parents to support their student in establishing healthy boundaries as he or she develops his or her individual identities. The adolescent years are properly the years of peer pressure, but young people in college must learn to make independent judgments and follow their own counsel.
This lesson applies, in particular, to the abuse of alcohol and other drugs and the disrespect of the personal and property rights of others. You and your student need to remember that laws apply to students both on and off campus. Encourage your student to be smart and to think for him- or herself. Losing control is never smart.
The WCU Police Department believes in the two-pronged philosophy of support and challenge. If your student is having problems with which we can help, encourage him or her to contact us at 828.227.7301 (non-emergency) or 828.227.8911 (emergency). We will do everything reasonable to support your student with their problem or issue. Conversely, we challenge students and hold them accountable for their behavior if they violate rules or laws. This challenge process may include referral to the Department of Student Community Ethics, a traffic citation, or even arrest. We hope this is not the situation your student experiences and solicit your assistance by having you remind your student of his or her obligations and the potential consequences for not upholding these obligations.
We are excited about your student being a Catamount and look forward to his or her years at Western Carolina University. And, if your student forgets to call home, it is okay to call us and ask us to check on his or her welfare.