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Ouachita Stories


10 things parents of a college freshman need to know

Mother hugs her daughter moving to OuachitaAugust 22, 2019 - Arliss Dickerson

In my 32 years as a Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) campus minister at another Arkansas university, as well as a current consultant in collegiate ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, I have learned a few things that every parent needs to know as they prepare to launch their freshman college student.

  1. College is usually harder than high school. Your son or daughter may study as hard or harder but not make as good of grades as in high school.
  2. The friends and habits a student develops during the first three weeks often determine their whole college career. Make sure they understand the importance of starting right with a clear set of priorities. Students can shipwreck their college career, and even their entire life, during this brief time.
  3. Seven out of 10 high school seniors active in church have NO spiritual connections while in college. If this is a priority in your family, discuss how to make it part of the first three weeks. Many do not intentionally turn away from their faith; it just gets lost in the beginning with all the busyness.
  4. Parents cannot see or receive their son or daughter's grades without a special signed form that can be obtained from the Registrar's Office. This is part of federal privacy laws. It does not matter that you are paying the bill.
  5. Students who live in dorms tend to make better grades, according to national studies. It is all about being connected to college life and feeling like a college student.
  6. National studies also show that students who are active in campus organizations are more likely to stay in school and graduate. Again, it is about being connected and feeling connected. Obviously, this is where ministries like Campus Ministries or the Baptist Collegiate Ministry are a huge plus.
  7. A recent national study shows that students tend to marry someone they date! Really!!
  8. You should know where your son or daughter lives at school and how to contact them, or at least how someone else could contact them (dorm and room number, apartment and number … not just their cell phone).
  9. On average, a student changes his or her major three or four times. That is why it is best to take required basic courses the first semester or two.
  10. Psychologists say the two greatest times of change in a person's life are birth to age-1 and high school graduation to Christmas. That is why it is so important to stay connected and involved with your student during this time.

Some Suggestions:

  • Make sure the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, another ministry or a college ministry church has your son or daughter's contact information prior to school starting.
  • If your son or daughter will be living at home, do not ask them to function on the home schedule of meals, etc. Consider buying a meal ticket on campus or depositing to an account where this money can be used on campus for food. This is not only convenient, but it helps them connect more to campus and feel like a college student.
  • If joining a social club is something that might be an option for your student, Ouachita actually delays joining a club until after the first semester. This allows time to really know what a group is like and to adjust to classes, etc.
  • Make sure your student understands that if they plan to drop a class, it is important to officially drop it in their dean’s office -- not just stop going. However, if a student drops below 12 academic hours, most schools do not consider them full-time and scholarships, etc., become null and void. In some instances, they must move out of dorms or other school housing.


Arliss headshotBy Arliss Dickerson, who currently serves as a consultant for the Collegiate Ministry office at LifeWay Christian Resources. His granddaughter, Victoria, is a student at Ouachita. His blog “ 10 Things Parents of a College Freshman Need to Know ” was originally published on his blog, College Ministry Thoughts .