Mason Family Flash

Important conversations to have with your student

Communication is the key to better relationships. Your student is experiencing the college chapter of their life and it helps if your Mason family is on the same page. It is important to have a conversation that everyone is willing to participate in, and the intention should be to listen respectfully even if you do not agree on everything. View the lists of questions below and consider having these conversations with your Mason student:

Questions for All Students

  • What are your student’s expectations for this year?
  • What are their goals while attending Mason?
    • Study abroad? Internship? Join an organization? Meet lifelong friends?
  • What if they decide to switch majors and add another year to their time at Mason?
  • What if Mason is not a perfect fit and they consider leaving?
    • Would they finish the semester or the year?
  • Can you (parent/family member) be aware of their schedule?
  • Can you (parent/family member) have the phone numbers of their new friends?
  • What are the significant other/romantic partner expectations for your family?
  • Are you (parent/family member) forthcoming about your own college experiences and successes/mistakes you made?
  • Will your student complete a FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) form?
    • FERPA is a federal law that prevents Mason from releasing certain information from a student’s record without their consent.
  • If you (parent/family member) co-signed loans, does your student fully understand their responsibility?
    • Outstanding student loan debt from your student may jeopardize your retirement.
    • If your student dies before debt is paid off, will you be in a financial position to complete the loan payoff?

Questions for On-Campus Students

  • What are your communication expectations for each other?
    • Call once a week? Text daily?
  • Do you (parent/family member) have a tracker on your phone? What is the agreement while your student is at Mason?
  • What is the expectation for university breaks? Family time, catching up with friends, or a balance of both?
  • Your student may miss family events and vacations – how do they feel about that?
  • What happens if there is a death in the family/pets, how does your student want to be notified?
  • What are the alcohol expectations for your family?

Insurance Questions

  • Do you understand how your healthcare works with your student on campus?
    • Does your student understand the healthcare they are on and how to use it?
    • Network vs. Out of Network
    • Accidents/flu/general doctor visits while at Mason
  • Scheduling doctor’s appointments
    • Work their appointments around days when they may be home
      • Dentist – every 6 months / General Practitioner – once a year
  • Call your insurance agent for specifics on homeowner’s insurance and how it applies to your student’s belongings
    • Purchase a separate policy for your student’s laptop (for theft or if it breaks)

What’s in Your Wallet?

  • Photocopy (front and back) all important information your student stores in their wallet in case it gets lost or stolen.
  • Make two copies – one for you and the other for your student.
  • If your student took their passport to Mason, ask them to make a copy of it and store it in a safe location.

Legalities to Discuss if Your Student is 18 or Older

  • Do you have the necessary legal forms completed for them?
    • If you are unclear what forms to use, call your local estate attorney.
  • There are websites available for free legal advice.
  • Discuss organ donor and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.
  • Have your student write down all social media accounts and passwords and store in a sealed envelope. It is not to be opened unless in an emergency.

Questions for Off-Campus Students

  • What does it mean for your family to have your student at home while attending Mason?
    • How will they manage their time between home and Mason?
    • Will they still have family responsibilities (i.e. making dinner, cleaning, taking care of siblings and pets, etc.) and partake in family events?
    • Are they expected to pay rent or support the family in other financial ways?
  • How will your student travel to campus?
    • Personal car, Metro, shuttle, bus, bike, carpool?
    • If driving a personal car, did they purchase a parking permit?
    • Have they mapped the commute during peak travel times?
  • Will they prepare and bring meals from home or purchase food on the go?
  • How does your student plan to become involved and connected to the campus community?
    • There are more than 400 events in Mason360 that include both in-person and virtual engagement! Encourage them to download the app to get connected.
  • What will they do if they begin to experience feelings of isolation or feelings that they are not getting the full Mason experience?
    • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff are available, and students can call 703-993-2380 to schedule an appointment. There is also online support through Therapy Assistance Online.
  • When does your student plan to explore all parts of campus and not only where they may have face-to-face classes?
  • If your student wants to invite friends over to your house, are there any rules they should be aware of?

Although you may feel concern about how your relationship may change over time as your student manages their Mason schedule and responsibilities, we hope these conversation starters will ensure you and your student have a great experience during this exciting time.

Rebecca McCrory
Associate Director of Family Programs
New Student and Family Programs