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As the parent or family member of an incoming or current first-year student, you are likely experiencing many moments of both joy and anxiety. Having your student leave home, often for the first time, brings on an era of both great transition and separation. Yet, although your role may be about to change, your work as a parent is far from done. While ultimately your student must be left to make their own decisions and learn from their consequences, your services are still needed. Your ability to provide guidance and support during this period of great change is vital for your student's success.
These transitions often require a large adjustment by all members of the family. In order to be as prepared as possible, we recommend having discussions prior to the start of the school year about values, goals, and behavioral expectations and also keeping the lines of communication open throughout the undergraduate years. Being as explicit and open as possible during these talks should help alleviate misunderstandings and allow for positive growth and change.
During the summer, we provide parent and family newsletters specifically for those of incoming students. You can find them under our communications tab or at the bottom of this page.
The Parent and Family Orientation experience will allow you to learn more about Duke’s academic philosophy and student experience, connect with Duke community members, and help your student settle into their new home.
Parent and Family Orientation will consist of a series of webinars throughout July and August in order to engage families early in their transition process and provide accessible programming to reach families, regardless of whether they can travel to campus for move-in day.
Join us for the following orientation webinars. Registration is required for each session. Each webinar will be recorded and posted here 48 hours after it airs.View the schedule and recordings
The Blue Book outlines everything students need to do and know before they arrive at Duke in August. This digital guide includes deadlines for housing, registration, and immunizations as well as an overview of the academic advising model, pre-orientation opportunities, and so much more!
Additionally, there is a Parent and Family section of the Blue Book designed to introduce families to life at Duke and address topics most of interest to families. Topics include health and wellness services, federal student privacy laws, financial aid and billing, common first-year transition challenges, student expectations and accountability, and more.
Additionally, New Student & Family Programs also launches a webinar series with accompanying videos called the Summer Transition Series to supplement the information in the Blue Book and help students make the needed decisions beginning classes in August. The 2022 Summer Transitions Series will begin airing summer 2022.Check out the Parent & Family Blue Book
Our experience has shown that many first-year students experience similar challenges as they make the transition to their new lives on campus.
Homesickness is a common struggle for many students. It is important to remember that what often hurts about being homesick is not simply that your student is away from home, but rather that they haven't made Duke another place to call home. Returning home often (or focusing on wanting to be back home) can keep the homesick student from creating familiarity. Encourage your student to find places on campus to create routines, take study breaks, exercise, and enjoy a snack. Also, advocate that they take steps to make living spaces comfortable, with reminders of home and also pointers of the future. You can also suggest that your student joins a new club or organization. Finally, ask about who your student has met and learn about their new relationships.
When your student returns home after having been at Duke, you may notice some changes. Most students experience a new level of independence while away at college. Structure and rules at home may seem foreign now. Be sure to have a conversation before the first visit, or shortly after the visit begins. Communication is essential so that your expectations are understood and any assumptions your student may have made (curfew, chores, coming and going, and expenses) are clarified before conflict emerges. New habits may have developed that work when navigating campus, but which do not fit in at home. Often the shift from “child” to “visitor” can occur without anyone actually realizing it. This can affect siblings too, so strong communication throughout the family is key.
Your student is likely to experience the ups and downs of emotional and practical challenges associated with college life. Among the most common experiences are:
There are ways as a parent to support your student while still allowing them the opportunity to grow through their college experiences. Reminding them of their values, interests, and goals while also providing family support is important in helping them navigate their first year.Watch a video on normalizing common transition challenges here
During the summer, the Office of New Student & Family Programs provides newsletters specifically for the families of incoming students. Starting in May, look out for this monthly email with important information about supporting your student through the transition to Duke.
While email will be the primary way Duke and New Student & Family Programs communicates with families, we also welcome you to join the Class of 2026 Parent and Family Facebook page. This page is a great place to meet each other, celebrate your student's achievements, and learn more about the Duke Community. Please note that because this Facebook group is restricted to only Duke parents, guardians, and primary caretakers, you will have to press the "Join Group" button at the top of the page and then respond to a few security questions before an administrator adds you to the group.
**Note that for the privacy of our students and to abide by national regulations, your student must give consent before families are added to University communication, which includes receiving official correspondence from Duke University through email and being admitted to official University Family Facebook groups. Your student has access to the consent form through their admissions portal.