Parent and Family Information

As your college students arrive on campus in the fall, it is a time for new experiences and friendships, and may be a time of experimentation with alcohol and other substances. The first six weeks of the first year may be a vulnerable time for underage college drinking and for alcohol-related consequences because of student expectations and social pressures at the start of the year.

Parents Can Help

Research shows that students who abstain from drinking often do so because their parents discuss alcohol use and its adverse consequences with them. What can parents do to help?

  • Talk to your student about the risk of harmful and underage drinking.
  • Stay in touch. Schedule a time to catch up.
  • Listen for warning signs like disengagement, lifestyle changes, apathy or symptoms of anxiety or depression.
  • Remind students to stay in touch, reach out for help or encourage them to share information about their lives while at school.
  • Learn about your student's University policies and programming.
  • Make sure your student knows the signs of alcohol-related problems and how to get help.

Watch the following video on how to guide your student through this transition:On Responsibility: Transitioning from High School to College with Tiffany Jones.

Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

If you think your student might have a substance abuse problem, intervening can be very important for their health. There are some signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of a problem, or that someone is at risk of having a problem with drugs or alcohol:

  • You have heard reports or seen the student drinking excessively.
  • The student has been involved in disciplinary actions as a result of alcohol or drug intoxication.
  • The student's grades have suffered because of excess substance use.
  • The student has been involved in accidents in which alcohol is involved.
  • The student misses classes or appointments because they are hung over.
  • The student is having difficulties in relationships with peers because of their excessive use of alcohol or drugs.
  • The student has been involved in sexual activity they later regret.
  • The student has had erratic emotional outbursts.
  • The student has blackouts.
  • The student is unable to modify their drinking or drug use.
  • The student has experienced weight loss, medical difficulties, or is exhibiting poor hygiene.

If you have concerns that your student may be experiencing these problems and you want to consult with a counselor, you may contact the Counseling Center at 215.895.1415 or email

Resources for Parents