Conversation Starters

Orientation, Transition, and Family Engagement supports new first-year and transfer students as well as their families through the transition to college, Georgetown and the greater D.C. community. The purpose of this page is to provide families a comprehensive resource of common transitional experiences your student may encounter and conversation starters that may help start the dialogue between you and your student. 

As your student moves through life in college at Georgetown, they may be going through developmental milestones as they discover their own version of independence, adulthood, and decision-making. In this new stage of their personal and academic growth, we encourage family members to take on a role as a coach, or partner, in supporting their student.  By asking thoughtful open-ended questions, listening supportively, showing patience, and encouraging students to make decisions or to accomplish tasks on their own, you are moving from raising a child to coaching a young adult.  Throughout this guide, we hope that you can take away some guiding questions and resources that can help you in your journey to coaching your Georgetown student. 


Learn more about:

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that states that a written institutional policy with respect to student records must be established and that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students be made available annually. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records, subject to some exceptions.

It is the policy of the University not to provide academic and other personal information to parents without the student’s consent. An exception to this policy will be made when the University determines, on the basis of all the circumstances, that disclosure to parents is warranted because of compelling academic, health, safety or disciplinary concerns. When the University determines that disclosure is warranted, and there is no emergency, students will first be given a reasonable period of time within which to inform their parents and to request that their parents acknowledge such notification by contacting the appropriate University office.

Resources

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (U.S. Dept. of Education)

Disclosure of Student Information

Student Records Policy

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a law intended to provide better access to health insurance, limit fraud and abuse, and reduce administrative costs.

Major features of HIPAA include but are not limited to;

  • Consumer Control over health information. This includes proper patient education on privacy protections, ensuring patient access to their medical records ,receiving patient consent before information is released, ensuring that consent is not coerced, and providing recourse if privacy protections are violated. Patient authorization to disclose information must meet specific requirements. Health care providers who see patients are required to obtain patient consent before sharing their information for treatment, payment, and health care operations purposes. Patients have the right to request restrictions on the uses and disclosures of their information.
  • Boundaries on Medical Record Use and Release. With few exceptions, an individual’s health information can be used for health purposes only. Health information cannot be used for purposes not related to health care – such as use by employers to make personnel decisions, or use by financial institutions – without explicit authorization from the individual.
  • Ensure the security of personal health information. This includes adopting written privacy procedures, training employees and designate a privacy officer, and establishing grievance processes. This ensures that covered entities must provide a means for patients to make inquiries or complaints regarding the privacy of their records.

Resources

Georgetown University HIPAA Manual


How to talk with your student about:

Managing Georgetown’s rigorous curriculum can sometimes seem daunting, even for the most experienced students. As your student transitions into these new learning experiences, encourage them to keep up with their academic load and be proactive with their education. Your student will have access to a plethora of resources that can contribute to academic achievement. Campus resources such as The Academic Resource Center (ARC) can aid in this success by offering general academic assistance and more individualized support if needed. 


Guiding Questions

  • What are some of your study habits?
  • What are you excited to learn about?
  • How have you been using your calendar to maintain your schedule?
  • What have you learned from attending your professors’ office hours?
  • What didn’t you expect to learn in ____ course?

Resources for Families

Accommodations Request Process

General Campus Resource List

Resources for your Student

ARC Academic Resources

Explain It To Me

It’s important that your student learn how to manage financial matters. This education can start by encouraging your student to monitor their Georgetown billing statement. If your student applies for financial aid, help them understand what their responsibilities are and how payments from aid programs are used to pay the bill and other college-related expenses. If there is a question about the bill or financial aid funding, your student should learn how to take action to resolve the issue. Advise your student to reach out to the University offices such as the Office of Student Financial Services that offer guidance and support on how to meet college costs, budget personal expenses, and grow their financial literacy skills. 

Resources for Families

Get Billing Support: Office of Revenue & Receivables

Learn About Georgetown Tuition & Fees

Meal Plan FAQs

Student Health Insurance

Monitor Student’s GU Billing & Financial Aid (with permissions from student)

Resources for your Student

Office of Student Financial Services

GU Student Employment Office

GU Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union

GU Common $ense

Supplemental financial support and advising services

With people living longer and the world of work looking vastly different than it did a generation ago, you and your student will see that career services is no longer about job placement. It’s about translating soft skills and creating a story that carries a student through multiple jobs, and even multiple careers.  It’s about holistically teaching students how to think about career and what the steps and processes are for maintaining and changing careers when we aren’t even sure what careers will be available in the future. As your student transitions into and through life in college, it is important to support them in talking about different aspects of their vocational education and aspirations. 

Guiding Questions

Resources for Families

Industry Newsletters

Post-graduate outcomes

Resources for your Student

Cawley Career Education Center

Introspection activities

Find opportunities in the age of COVID

More information to come soon!

Guiding Questions

  • What do you do for fun?
  • What takes up most of your time outside of academics?
  • Have you found your circle on campus?
  • Have you sought out any leadership opportunities?
  • How are you positively contributing to the greater Georgetown and DC community?

Resources for Families

Virtual Programs & Services

Read the Senior Viewpoint series

Resources for your Student

CSE Infographic

Virtual Calendar of Events

More information to come soon!

Guiding Questions

  • Have you downloaded the LiveSafe App?
  • What would you like to see on campus to make you feel safer?
  • What are the different ways to contact GUPD?

Resources for Families

Resources for your Student

Sign up for HoyaAlerts

It is important to talk with your student about the choices they may encounter as they enter college life. Your student will benefit from guidance and open conversation regarding alcohol and drug use, social life, and intimate relationships. Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit mission promotes an environment in which students can develop intellectually, morally, spiritually, and socially while exercising a balance of partnership and autonomy within the campus community. We encourage you to review the Code of Student Conduct together so that you both have a clear understanding of what the University expects of them. Your student should know what rights and responsibilities they have within the disciplinary processes. In this unique time, it is also important to ensure that you and your student understand the University’s health and safety requirements related to COVID-19.

Guiding Questions

  • How do you make decisions?
  • What are some potential consequences of your actions?
  • What steps can you take to move forward?

Resources for Families

Student Conduct Procedures

Sanctioning

Student Records

Resources for your Student

Code of Student Conduct

Sexual Misconduct Policies & Procedures

Sexual Assault: How to Get Help

As your student transitions into and through life in college, it is important to support them in talking about different aspects of their wellness. Wellness means so much more than physical health.  As our Hoya Wellness Wheel indicates, wellness has many intersecting parts. One of our Jesuit Values, Cura Personalis, encourages us to care for the whole person. As you talk to your student about wellness, we encourage you to support them in processing how they can thrive in all parts of their wellness, including those on the Wellness Wheel and beyond.

Guiding Questions

  • What are some ways in which you feel like you are thriving in college?
  • Where do you feel like your wellness may not be at its best?
  • How are you engaging in self-care?
  • What are some steps you can take to support your wellness?
  • What can I do as a family member to support your wellness?

Resources for Families

Article: “5 things college students should include in a plan for their wellness”

Article: “Parent Wellness Promotes College Student Wellness”

Article: “Three Essential College Wellness Guides for Parents”

Resources for your Student

Hoya Wellness Wheel

Georgetown Telehealth Resources

Georgetown On-Campus Wellness Resources

Self-Care for Students

Hoya Hub Food Pantry

College years are known to be the time in life when serious mental illnesses are most likely to manifest themselves. It can be a recipe for psychological vulnerability for many students. When students have mental health crises, families often feel overwhelmed and unsure about how to help. Awareness and treatment are essential to preventing crises that result in failing classes, dropping out, or severe emotional issues. Families often need help addressing their student’s mental health and academic needs at the same time. So, as a parent or family member, what can you do? Here are some tips for supporting your student as they navigate the unfamiliar waters of university life.

Guiding Questions

  • Tell me more about what is happening? How you are feeling?
  • Have you had feelings like this in the past? When?
  • Sometimes you need to talk to someone about your feelings. I’m here to listen. How can I help?
  • Who are some other people you can talk to?
  • I’m worried about your safety. Can you tell me if you have thoughts about harming yourself or others?

What Can I Do?

  1. Have a Plan. All students, but particularly those who have already experienced mental health issues, should have a plan in place in case things get difficult. For example, knowing who their care team is and the chain of communication.
  2. Stay in Touch. Make time for regular phone conversations with your student. Try not to limit your communication to emails and texts. It can be easier to detect when something is bothering them by listening to their voice, especially because mood interpretation can be lost via text message.
  3. Forget Stigma. Don’t let stigma get in the way of getting help for your student. If your student is experiencing mental health issues, prioritize getting help over the fear of tarnishing their transcript, reputation, or this sense that they have “failed”.
  4. Encourage Health Habits. It’s easy to let good eating, sleep, and exercise habits fall by the wayside while living away from home for the first time. The importance of a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and regular exercise cannot be overstated, particularly as they relate to overall mental health. Try to avoid lecturing your student about eating their vegetables or specific timeline of habits. Instead, try to ask them how they feel when they eat well or when they sleep poorly. This will help them to connect self-care with emotional stability.

Resources for Families

Article: “A Parent’s Guide to Mental Health for College Students” (new window)

Article: “Depression, anxiety rising among U.S. college students”

Resources for your Student

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

CAPS Staff Recommendations Corner

APA: “Change your mind about mental health”

Your student’s college experience will include several new and changing relationships. Between roommates, peers, classmates, or significant others, ensuring that your student feels supported is an important aspect of their wellbeing. Recognize that their relationship with family members back home can also change, and keep the lines of communication free and open. Encourage your student to create systems of support with resources that are present on campus. Engage in education with your student on what healthy relationships consist of, and how to better recognize unhealthy signs and where to go for guidance. 

Guiding Questions

  • How are you staying connected to friends?
  • What are some other support systems for you on campus?
  • Where can you go to speak confidentially?

Resources for Families

Red Flag 

One Love

Resources for your Student

Health Education Services

How your RA Can Support You

Love is Respect

Self-Care Resources

Social experiences are some of the most memorable moments in a college career. As your student makes new connections and starts entering different social scenes, they may choose to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Engaging in conversation with your student regarding this topic can be difficult. However, remembering to keep your reactions in check, encouraging your student to create a safety plan, and reminding them of Georgetown’s community expectations can help to keep the conversation open and productive. If you find that your student does need additional support with drugs or alcohol, you can recommend that they reach out to Health Education Services or the Counseling and Psychiatric Service.

Guiding Questions

  • How can you safely engage with drinking?
  • Tell me about your safety plan when you go out.

Resources for Families

Article: “How to Have “The Talk” About Drugs and Alcohol”

GU Policies on Alcohol and Drugs

Resources for your Student

Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Services (GERMS)

Alcohol and Drug Services