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Help for your student (and you)

College is full of life changes and happenings. For many students, this is their first time being on their own. At times your student may struggle and seek your guidance. We are here to help! Below are some resources to help guide you through their experiences. These topic areas tend to be the most common situations and/or questions we hear from our families and students.

What to Expect

Starting college and being exposed to many new challenges and experiences can affect your son or daughter’s social, vocational and personal choices. It is also a time when they will begin to formalize their identity, which involves a process of questioning and exploration. Realizing that change is a normal part of the developmental process can be helpful.

One of the basic tasks for first-year students is to separate from their parents and homes, regardless of whether they live on campus or with you. All new students will be faced with additional freedom, added responsibilities, greater demands and more choices. They will also have less structure or guidance than they have had in the past.

Students will need to learn how to make decisions and choices without the structure and guidance once provided by you. While balancing freedom and responsibility can be a challenge for new college students, it is a valuable lesson that will carry them through life. This not only allows them to invest fully in college life but also assists them in acquiring the skills needed later to live independently after they graduate.

Students’ new freedom and responsibility can also place difficult demands on the family. Students who choose to live at home will not have the same time available to them to help with chores around the house, or even financial support.

In their search for greater self-knowledge and clarity about their identity, students must try out new ideas, theories and experiences to see if they fit with what they already know about themselves. Don’t be surprised if they come home with ideas that are different than those taught at home, with questions on issues that once were taken for granted, or even with a new earring or haircut. Take it in stride. What is important is to keep communication lines open.

While students often start with an idea of what they want to do, what they believe in, and what they like to do, it is always possible that down the road, they will question these certainties. It is not uncommon for students to change their choice of major more than once. Be sure to encourage them to seek career counseling and academic advising to stay on track to graduate.

All students will make mistakes during their college experience—it is an inevitable part of maturing. Making a mistake can be an important experience and useful to future situations, if one can learn from it. Remind your son or daughter that we all make mistakes and it is necessary to develop skills to handle them and move on. For example, if your student fails a class…it is not the end of the world! CSU has a “replacement” model for repeated classes. The repeated higher grade will replace the effect of the lower grade on GPA.

College is stressful, and the demands on students will at times exceed their resources to cope. Reactions may range from losing sight of priorities and becoming over-involved in social activities to exaggerating responsibilities and withdrawing from social life. Most students achieve a medium between these extremes. However, if your student shows signs of being too involved or too withdrawn, we suggest that you encourage your student to talk with a professional counselor on campus to discuss any concerns.

Many students experience homesickness during their initial adjustment to a new environment—and maybe, periodically, throughout their college years, as pressures mount. Students are more prone to homesickness (a) if they have no experience with living and working away from home, (b) if they are reluctant to initiate social events, (c) if they have hobbies that don’t involve other people—like reading or computer games, and/or (d) if your family is experiencing distress from divorce, illness, financial issues or other significant stressors.

Homesickness is uncomfortable for both students and parents, and you will worry in a proportion equal to your student’s apparent happiness. However, homesickness is usually transient and will pass. Each bout with homesickness builds coping skills to help the next episode be less intense.

CSU Residence Life staff are trained to keep an eye out for signs of homesickness among the resident students. Be encouraged that the staff has a special heart for the emotional struggles that are common place to students entering residential college life. Please know that you are welcome to contact your son or daughter’s Residence Life Coordinator to share your concerns.

On their own for the first time, some students have problems managing money. Sit down with your student to discuss planning a budget. Decide on a plan for dealing with the large issues of paying for tuition and housing/food, as well as the smaller ones such as spending money. Your student may be bombarded with offers for credit cards, and many students accumulate debt they can’t pay. Don’t assume that money issues will work themselves out. Take charge to initiate this important conversation.

High School vs. College

The transition from high school to college is a tremendous paradigm shift for freshmen. As parents, your understanding of these fundamental changes can support your student’s ease of adjustment. Use the following as discussion starters with your student to help him/her prepare for these new expectations.

As you carefully evaluate the distinct differences between the high school and college environments, you will likely appreciate why we strongly emphasize the importance of student accountability and the need for students to show up.

In a nutshell, the high school environment enables what we call passive learning—the acquisition of knowledge without active effort. Quite often, we hear freshmen say things like “I made straight As in high school and I never had to study!” or “I never had to read any of my high school textbooks” or “I plan to get a job off campus, too, since I won’t be in class that long each day.”

In college, students are introduced to a new model of instruction called active learning—where the responsibility of learning falls on the learner and requires active engagement with the textbook material, instructor lectures and class discussions. The college model of learning demands active engagement and participation with the learning materials, class lectures, discussions and independent and group projects.

Tip: Renting textbooks saves you on average 50% when compared to new, printed textbooks. You can use your financial aid to pay for your textbook rental!

  • HIGH SCHOOL: Most learning occurs in class. Students may study outside class as little as one to two hours a week.
  • COLLEGE: Most learning occurs outside of class. On average, students will need to study about two hours outside of class for each hour spent in class.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: Students attend class back-to-back for about 6 hours each day; 30-35 per week.
  • COLLEGE: The student creates his or her own schedule. Classes do not meet every day. There may be many unscheduled hours between classes. Class times vary throughout the day and evening. The student spends only 12-18 hours per week in class.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: Teachers are directive and nurturing.
  • COLLEGE: Professors are caring, but expect the student to be independent and to take personal responsibility for learning.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: Teachers do not keep office hours. Instead, they answer questions and offer help to students in class.
  • COLLEGE: Professors schedule regular office hours for the purpose of meeting with students individually when extra help is needed.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: The student seldom needs to read anything more than once—and sometimes listening in class is enough.
  • COLLEGE: The amount of reading assigned by professors may be large. The student must review class notes and text material regularly. Preparation for exams typically requires multiple reviews of all course materials. “Cramming” the night before an exam does little to no good.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: Teachers present the material at a slower pace, and the presentation is designed to support the textbook.
  • COLLEGE: Professors present the material at a more rapid pace and their presentation is designed to supplement the text. Professors expect you to study the book on your own and then they will add to or explain it.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: There is frequent testing. Therefore, the student is required to master only a small amount of the total course material for any single exam.
  • COLLEGE: Testing is less frequent—sometimes just a midterm and final. Therefore, the student must be prepared to demonstrate mastery of a much larger amount of material for a single exam.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: High school grades may be derived not only from exams but also from other assignments. Consistently good homework grades or extra credit assignments might be used to compensate for poor performance on exams and raise your course grade.
  • COLLEGE: College grades are usually derived from exams and major papers or projects. Typically, there is limited opportunity (or none) to earn extra credit points toward the semester grade.

Help Your Student Succeed

Whether they are living with you or not, whether they let you know it or not, whether they are trying to prove their independence or not—your child still needs you to be available. If your student is homesick, be reassured that this is normal. Stay in close touch the first few weeks and let him or her know that you are there and willing to listen.

College students are moving into adulthood. You can help by giving them the room to take the responsibility that is necessary. Assist them in their decision-making process. Share your wisdom, but don’t try to make decisions for them or tell them what to do. Remember, trusting them to make decisions for themselves lets them know you believe in them. When you are concerned with their recent choices, remind yourself of the foundation you have provided to them. You may need to accept changes in their values and goals, and to respect them for who they are becoming. Remember, CSU personnel will not be able to discuss your student’s academic or financial record with you unless you are listed as a contact on your student’s FERPA Waiver!

Listen: take time to attentively acknowledge your student’s excitement as well as the difficulties, without offering solutions. Often, they are not looking for you to solve the problem, but to understand how they feel about it.

This is a new world for your student. Ask questions about new experiences, friends and classes. If they don’t want to share all these experiences immediately, don’t give up. Often, students talk to their parents in their later years of college. Be willing to listen when they are ready to reach out to you.

Encouragement means to give courage. You can offer your helping hand toward a successful college experience by reminding your student of his or her strengths, previous successes, and responsible ways he or she has handled things in the past.

Changes, mistakes, confusion, new identities—all of these are challenging and stressful for both you and your student. Your student is in a period of transition and things they are sure about one semester could change by the next. Be patient and understanding with both your student and yourself.

We encourage you to take the time to look through the Student Handbook and the Academic Catalog. Your student will be held accountable for all published rules and policies. Ignorance is not an accepted defense!

Whether your student has chosen a resident or commuter experience, the transition from home to college is both challenging and exhilarating! Our prayer is that your student will grow and develop into a responsible adult who is filled with anticipation to live out the unique plan God has especially prepared for him or her. We hope you and your student enjoy the journey!

  • Make a financial plan and discuss expectations with your child
  • Encourage your student to begin early building his or her professional profile by participating in internship opportunities
  • Talk to your child about how you’ll keep in touch
  • Be a coach rather than trying to solve your child’s problems yourself
  • Be an anchor: Pray for your child to have wisdom, discernment and success!

Resources for Your Student

Safety is first priority at Charleston Southern University. Our student and parent BucAlert Emergency Information System alerts you to campus emergency information via text, phone and email.

The CSU Academic Calendar lists important dates such as registration, class, holidays, exams, withdrawal deadlines and graduation information.

Check the CSU Events Calendar for upcoming performances and campus events.

Numerous academic clubs, service clubs, and organizations are available on campus to provide abundant opportunity for integrating socially into the CSU student community. An active Student Government Association empowers students to participate in a continuous exchange of ideas and opinions with administration to promote the general welfare and protect the rights of students. The Campus Activities Board is a student-run organization that plans events for students.

Brewer Center facilities give students the chance to enjoy sports in a fun, relaxed atmosphere, meet fellow students and get physically fit. Intramural Sports available throughout the year emphasize group activities with good sportsmanship in a less competitive environment.

A variety of Bible and book studies are offered for both residential and commuter students each semester to help your student grow spiritually, emotionally and relationally.

CSU students have free admission to all on-campus athletic events.

Campus Ministries focuses on exposing CSU students to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping them to grow and flourish in their calling. The Campus Ministries staff seeks to create a discipleship culture that raises a generation to live for His name. Our mission is for Jesus Christ to be glorified by having lives transformed through teaching, discipleship and immersion (life on mission).

The Career Center provides professional development resources for our students and alumni. Students may receive career counseling online or in person. In our virtual career center, students may conduct a mock interview, conduct a job search for national and international job opportunities, apply for internships, and post resumes, cover letters, reference pages and graduate school essays for critique.

Charleston Southern University’s Counseling Services offers professional mental health services in the form of personal counseling from a perspective which integrates Christian theology and psychology.

Your commuter student can enjoy all of the services, programming, student organizations and facilities that are available to resident students. Full-time commuters receive $75 in Declining Commuter Dollars for use at CSU food establishments.

Students with the standard meal plan receive $85 in Declining Dining Dollars that can be used at any of the CSU food establishments. Students can opt for a 15 meal plan and receive $135 in Declining Dining Dollars.

You can find more information on dining options, menus, and hours of operation on CSU’s Dining page.

CSU understands that funding a college education is a major investment, and we strive to offer students a quality education at the lowest possible cost. Financial aid is available for students attending college through grants, loans, work-study and scholarships. Making a student’s college education affordable and reachable is the mission of the Financial Aid office.

CSU is blessed to be centrally located within walking distance of multiple medical and urgent-care facilities. If needed, any student may contact the Dean of Students office to procure transportation to a local healthcare facility.

Your student should always have his or her CSU Student ID Card handy while on campus. A CSU ID Card is required to gain access to all services on campus. Your student’s meal plan balance and accrued Chapel credits are tracked using the CSU ID Card.

To receive your Student ID card, visit the Campus Security office in Quad 3.

The university recognizes that a significant part of a student’s academic and social integration experiences occur outside the classroom and that the residence hall environment is a key engagement tool in this process. Residence Life staff are available to assist students with roommate problems or room changes, and with any kind of physical difficulty with the livability of a room.

If your student is living in a residence hall, his or her mail will be delivered to the CSU Post Office located on the first floor of the Student Center. This is how your student’s address should appear on any mail you send for it to be received in a timely fashion:

Student Name
9200 University Boulevard
Charleston, SC 29406

While CSU Campus Security officers are not commissioned police officers under South Carolina statutes, the university has an excellent working relationship with North Charleston law enforcement agencies and first responders. Campus Security personnel are trained in first aid, CPR, victim concerns, crisis intervention, defensive tactics, alcohol and drug identification and patrol and security procedures.Tip: Students have access to 27 emergency call boxes in various locations to provide immediate interaction and assistance. Additionally, there are 54 courtesy phones throughout the residence halls to contact Campus Security.

The Student Handbook outlines the responsibilities and rights of all CSU students. Students are required to sign a disclosure notification verifying that they have read and understand the contents of the document.

The university offers free wireless internet access to all buildings on campus. Please confirm your student’s computer is installed with a current anti-virus program. Information Technology staff will ensure that your student has a correctly installed and configured wireless device; however, all other computer equipment setup is the responsibility of the student. 

Tip: Purchasing replacement insurance for all technology your student brings to campus is a wise financial decision.

Access to Student Records

THE FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT (FERPA) (sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment) protects the privacy of educational records and establishes the rights of students to inspect and review their educational records.

This means once your student enters college the right of access to his or her educational records goes directly to the student, unless your student has given specific, written permission to release that information to someone else.

To gain access to your student’s educational records, i.e., grades, billing, financial aid and other student record information, your student must fill out a Student Information Release Authorization through his or her MyCSU account. The form is located in the Bookmarks section of the Student tab.

Upcoming Events

Bucs Win - Homecoming 2021 Calendar Graphic

Homecoming Week 2021

Plan now to attend CSU’s Homecoming festivities. There’s plenty to do for the whole family. We hope you’ll join us.