7 Questions Families Should Ask New College Students

Even if your college student does not answer you, it’s helpful just to ask these questions — every time you ask, you plant a seed in their mind.

Three females talking and laughing (mother and two daughters)1. Are you going to class?

Students should not miss more than 1-2 classes per semester. Remember, every missed class is a waste of money and a lost opportunity to prepare for the exam or final project. It’s helpful for college students to remember that they have made the choice to attend school and even if they are not personally paying for it, someone is paying for it.

2. Do you know the date when you can withdraw from a class without financial penalty (aka “add/drop”)?

You will get a 100% refund if you decide to drop out of a class during the first week. If you drop out the second week, you will get a 50% refund. Every term has different calendar dates. You can always find dates on the Academic Calendar.

3. Have you read the syllabus?

It’s critical that your student reviews the course syllabus in the first week of classes. A syllabus is a manual or handbook for a course. It describes the student’s responsibilities for the course, and helps the student know whether or not they are ready for the course at this point in their academic career. In addition to explaining the grading policy and attendance policy, it indicates the deadlines for homework and exams and lists the required books, instructor’s office hours, and instructor’s contact information.

4. Do you know the latest date you can withdraw from a course without receiving an F?

It is possible to withdraw from a course after the add/drop period, but there is a deadline for this too: the ninth week of a full-semester course or the fourth-week of an accelerated seven-week course. At this point, the student will receive no financial refund and no academic credit. Instead of a grade, their transcript will have a “W” indicating “withdraw”. Please note that withdrawing from a course is a very significant decision that may reduce your student’s eligibility for financial aid, among other negative consequences. You must officially withdraw with your advisor, do not just stop attending class, this will result in an F.

5. Are you studying at least 6 hours per week per course?

Reading, writing, and lab work (for science classes) teach your student a lot of the information they are expected to know for exams, written papers, and other projects. It is helpful to remember this rule of thumb: do 2 hours of homework for each hour spent in class per week.

6. Have you met with your Academic Advisor and explained your goals for college?

Academic advisors can help students choose a major, guide them to graduate quickly, and ensure they transfer a significant number of valuable credits to a four-year college or university. Unfortunately, most students do not speak with their advisor unless there is a problem. It’s good advice to make an appointment early in the semester to discuss your plans, especially if transfer is a goal.

7. Have you visited the Academic Support Center to get FREE tutoring help?

Many students have difficulty transitioning to college-level work. Students who need help with math, writing, and other classes can get extra academic support for FREE. At the Mount, every student also gets 10 free hours of online tutoring per semester through ThinkingStorm (available to your student through their MWCC class Blackboard). Students can make an appointment by calling 978-630-9333 or emailing asc@mwcc.mass.edu with a description of their needs.