When Donald Qian’s daughter started applying to universities, he was excited for her. When she accepted admission to Victoria College in Toronto—nearly 3,500 kms away from their Calgary, Alberta, home—he started having second thoughts. “As parents, we were quite nervous and we certainly had mixed feelings,” he recalls. “On the one hand, we were supportive of her decision to become independent, but we were worried about her moving away to a new city on her own.” Today, however, Qian says their impressions have changed. “Through continued conversations with our daughter, we have become more aware of the detailed services that Vic provides for its students and that makes us feel at ease.”
Currently in her second year as a life sciences student, his daughter is pleased to have her parents’ support for her decision to go to Vic. She has opted to remain in residence for her second year because of its convenience—she feels safe and she is close to the campus library and she enjoys having access to the music room in the Goldring Student Centre. Beyond this, however, she credits residence life with broadening her circle of friends because she has met so many people outside her program. Finding her place at Vic makes Toronto feel like her home away from home.
As a Vic student, Qian’s daughter has also taken advantage of some of the supports that Vic offers to its students. For example, she has accessed the peer tutoring service for her chemistry courses and has received one-on-one advising on program and course selection in the Office of the Registrar. While living in residence, she has also spoken highly about her residence don—upper-year student mentors who live in campus housing and are trained to provide advice ranging from the personal and social matters to academic and financial ones. Residence dons also undergo training to identify, assist and refer students to university resources if needed.
Knowing how well his daughter is supported at Vic has helped to put Qian’s mind at ease. The daily reality of living without his daughter at home has certainly taken some getting used to; however communication is the key to easing feelings of loss as a young adult grows and moves away to university. Parents need to give their child space to become independent and to enjoy their university lifestyle, while at the same time staying in touch with them in a supportive way. In our last Parents’ Newsletter we provided some tips for starting a conversation, including specific questions such as, “Do you have a favourite professor or TA?” “What do you like about them or their classes?” “Which course has been most surprising for you?” And, “what do you feel most proud about this past year?” When a young person leaves home it is exciting to see and it sets the stage for a new phase in their relationship with their parents. By supporting your student’s decision to attend university—whether they live at home or commute to a different province or country—you are giving them the opportunity to become their own person!