Three warning signs your college-aged students may be struggling

October 10, 2023

While college can be a time of personal growth and achievement, it also can be a time of change and challenge.

We asked Alicia Caudill, executive vice president of student affairs at the College of Charleston, about what parents should be looking for when trying to determine whether their college-aged student is struggling socially or academically.

She offered three red flags that should alert parents.

  1. Increased communication. You know your student best, but if they’re texting or calling significantly more than they normally do, that could indicate they’re not engaged on campus. Also, pay attention to when they are reaching out. If they are talking with you when they’re supposed to be in class, that’s not ideal.
  2. Spending a substantial amount of time alone. Listen to what your student says, particularly as it related to how they’re spending their time. Are they gaming alone in their room for hours and hours? We should be mindful that these young adults experienced the pandemic, so connecting to others can be difficult.
  3. Non-specific answers to simple questions. College-aged students may not want to share every detail but ask some specific questions with straightforward answers. What are you covering in your classes? What’s one campus activity you’ve attended? What’s the name of your favorite person you’ve met thus far? If they’re not able to give specifics, it could be a sign they’re disconnected.

Caudill emphasized that every campus has resources available to help students, regardless of whether their struggling is academic or social. Parents should encourage their students to reach out to those resources to help them navigate challenges, she said.

Identifying and addressing these issues early can help prevent them from becoming bigger later and set your child up for future success.