Parent Tips

You are your students biggest support network and we're here to support you. We define any parent, guardian, sibling, partner, friend, teacher or advocate who are helping their student through this process as a support network.

Welcome to the Wildcat Family!

  • The Basics
    Keep in touch

    Students at all levels of the university experience like to stay connected with home. They also like to know that you are there if they need you. Send a quick text to wish them luck on a test, mail a newspaper clipping from home, or email just to let them know you care.

    Know that you are important

    Students regularly cite parents among the greatest influences in their lives. As faculty and staff at CWU, we also recognize that you can be a tremendous partner in helping your student reach his or her goals in college. We look to you to encourage your student to follow his or her intellectual passions, as well as to become an independent adult.

    Let them choose

    Your student wants to know that you believe in them. Let them make decisions, choose their own courses, and eventually choose a major. They may choose a major based on their intellectual passion, not based on which major is likely to earn the most money.

    Let them solve problems

    Your student may ask you to intervene in a problem situation. Resist the urge to handle the situation for him or her. Act as consultant as your student learns to problem-solve and communicate.

    Express confidence and be realistic

    Your student will encounter roadblocks and disappointments along the way. Allow them to make mistakes, and let them know that you are confident that they can work through issues that may arise.

    Help them learn the difference between disappointment and failure

    At some point your student will likely experience something they will label as a failure, such as a “C” on a test, even if it is not. Assure them that their best effort is all you expect.

  • Preparation for College

    When applying, encourage your student to complete the application themselves. This helps begin the important building of independence and the student will feel more ownership in the process.

    Students will need to send official transcripts from their high school and/or college(s). We recommend to send a transcript when they apply so they can be admitted immediately, and again once they’ve graduated with final grades and classes posted.

    The month or two prior to the start of classes can be a time filled with excitement and mixed emotions as your student prepares to transition to Central Washington University. This can also be a time when family members and students experience feelings of sadness, joy, nervousness, and anxiety. Families should be conscious of the many emotional ups-and-downs during this transition. Focus on communication with your student and discuss your concerns and expectations for the coming months.

  • Transition to College

    College is a time of transition for students and families. Your student may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything, and even the smallest thing can evoke an emotional response. Phone calls, text messages, and e-mails can help ease the transitional challenges for everyone during this time. It is important to remember that your student is becoming an adult and that as a family you have a new role in their life. It is not your responsibility to solve problems; instead listen and empower. Sometimes going for a run or sleeping on something can do wonders to help put life into perspective. You might also find it useful to read The Happiest Kid on Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child) by author Harlan Cohen.

  • Communication & Homesickness

    Building on the transition lessons learned in during the first month of classes, we look at homesickness. Student response on MAP-Works has demonstrated that a significant factor impacting social integration of CWU first-year students is homesickness. CWU students do not regret leaving home; however they think about going home and feel upset because they want to go home. While CWU is close and facilitates a quick trip home to see family and friends, remaining on campus on the weekend will help students take down time and build additional connections. Quality communication can aid in supporting students in their transition and ease the burden many students feel to go back home every weekend. Additionally your student will be encountering adult responsibilities and choices, and you can become a trusted adviser in the process of making those decisions. Try to listen without evaluation or judgment. Listen without “fixing” the problem. Asking open-ended questions will encourage dialogue and assist with the adjustment to these new roles.

  • Changing Majors & Study Abroad Options

    Choosing a major is a difficult and exciting process. In November, there is the CWU Majors Fair, which is a great opportunity for your student to consider which major is the best fit. Keep in mind national studies estimate that students change their majors several times during their college years. The best way to prepare for a career is to get a sound education and gain career-related experience through internships, community service, part-time jobs, campus involvement, and study abroad opportunities. Study abroad experiences, in fact, are often remembered by students as one of the most influential and positive aspects of their college education. Encourage your student to contact Career Services or Education Abroad to explore various opportunities.

  • Coming Home For Winter Break

    December is a hectic month for everyone, with finals, holiday gatherings, shopping, etc. Most students approach this time with similar feelings of going away to college. They are excited and hesitant. They may have concerns about how their developing adult identity will mesh with life at home. Campus experts suggest the most beneficial tool in this transition is to open lines of communication and create clear expectations to make your student’s return home from CWU the enjoyable and rewarding experience it should be. It is important to discuss expectations with your student before they return home for winter break. Prepare yourself and other family members—the student who returns may not be the student you sent off to college. It may help to renegotiate curfew hours and family responsibilities. It is an important time of adjustment for everyone as your family grows and changes.

  • Join the Support Network

    Join the CWU Parents Facebook page run by our parents and join the conversation!

    A forum for parents and guardians of CWU students to discuss life in Ellensburg, both on campus and off. There will be some posts/shares related to CWU and the students as well. This is not an official CWU page but rather a parent facilitated resource where issues pertinent to students, both generally (“How do you handle missing your kid so much?”) and specifically (“We’re headed over for a weekend visit, where do you like to stay?”) can be discussed freely. The goal here is to help and encourage each other and not to discuss or embarrass our students in any way and so for this reason, this group is for parents/guardians only— not the students themselves.

  • Pre-Enrollment Checklist

    See what your student needs to do at CWU Next Steps.

    CWU Housing also has a great pre-move in checklist and resource page available on their website.

  • FERPA and You

    Support network members wishing to contact the university regarding a student’s conduct, academic, or financial information must have a Release of Information on file with that specific student. This release states that the student gives a specific individual permission to access certain information regarding their student records. Without a release of information on file and a correct confirmation of the access code your student gave you, no university official can share any information with anyone other than the specific student. CWU staff are also very adept at answering in terms of CWU policies and procedures without needing specific information. If you would like to have access to pay towards the outstanding balance on your student's account you can have your student follow the instructions listed on the Student Accounts Online Payments website.

  • Support Network Key Dates

    This document is designed to help provide important dates and deadlines.

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