Parent and Support Network Tips

You are your student's biggest supporter and we are here to support you. We define any parent, guardian, sibling, partner, friend, teacher, or advocate who is 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.

    You can also send your student a care package! CWU has partnered with SWAK University Services to enhance your student's college experience. SWAK University Services has packages for every milestone and event such as Halloween, Fall Quarter Finals, Valentine's Day, Spring Quarter Finals, and so much more! Choose from a variety of care packages or build your own! Once your student's care package has been delivered to the Residence Life Office, our Housing & Residence Life team will notify your student that they can pick up their care package.

    Order your care package here!
    Know that you are important

    Students regularly cite their support network 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 their academic and personal goals in college. We look to you to encourage your student to follow their 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 them . 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 support networks and students experience feelings of sadness, joy, nervousness, and anxiety. Support networks 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 support networks alike. 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 support network, 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 February, Career Services hosts Majors in Minutes, which is a great opportunity for your student to connect with students in different majors and learn about their academic program.

    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 Study Abroad & Exchange Programs to explore various opportunities.

  • Coming Home For Winter Break

    2023 - 2024 Winter Break: Saturday, December 9, 2023 - Tuesday, January 2, 2024

    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.


    The residence halls will close for Winter Break on Saturday, December 9, 2023 at 12:00pm. During this time, students living on-campus will not have access to their residence hall. Students will not need to completely remove all of their items from their room—they only need to bring the items that they will need to use over the break with them.

    Students that are needing to stay on-campus over Winter Break can complete a Winter Break Housing application through their MyHousing portal. The Housing & Residence Life team will work directly with students in terms of a Winter Break housing assignment and how they will transition to their Winter Break housing assignment from their academic year housing assignment.

  • Join the Support Network

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

    A forum for parents and support networks  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 support network 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 and support networks only—not the students themselves.

  • CWU Next Steps

    See the Next Steps that your student will need to complete to be set up for success at CWU.

  • FERPA and You

    Support networks 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 for the 2023 - 2024 academic year.

CWU News

North Academic Complex site tours, geothermal presentation to be offered Friday

February 26, 2024


Charles Schwab Foundation funding supports CWU Center for Financial Planning and Well-Being

February 26, 2024


More News