Creating Healthy Expectations

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As you know, your student’s journey through college impacts the whole family. Therefore it is important for you and your student that good expectations are created and communicated early on. Here are two tips for creating healthy expectations.

1. Have your student set his or her own expectations
While it is helpful for you to let your student know what you expect of them, they are much more likely to adhere to expectations that they have thought through and set for themselves. Therefore, encourage your student to define the ways in which they will assess themselves on whether or not they are being a successful student and member of the family. Keep in mind that just because your student is the one setting his or her expectations doesn’t mean you can’t give some helpful advice.

2. Expectations should focus on actions rather than outcomes
You and your student each probably have a certain GPA that you find acceptable. However, your expectation should not be “to get a 3.4 GPA.” If you set a GPA as an expectation, by time you find out if the expectation is met, it is too late to make the necessary changes. It is better to set your expectations on ongoing actions such as class attendance, study hours, responses to difficult classes and time spent with family. For example, a student may have the following expectations:

  • Miss no more than one session in each of my classes.
  • Spend a minimum of seven hours studying for each of my mid-term and final exams.
  • Ask my professor for explanations and guidance on any assignments given a B- or below so that I can do better on future assignments.
  • Spend 30 minutes talking with mom or dad on the phone each week and spend three weekends at home each semester.

Following these two tips for creating good expectations will not only help your student through college, it can help your student create healthy lifelong habits.


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