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Resources for Parents & Families

This page is organized to give a variety of topical resources that might help you and your WOU student successfully navigate university life and graduate. The resources here are drawn from a variety of places and where possible, links are provided to WOU areas that can also assist with additional information! Enjoy!


First-Generation College Students


At WOU, over 1/2 of all of our students are "first generation" meaning that they are the first in the family to go to college. This page will help with terms and understanding what college life is all about.



Academic Structure

We have a lot of key players at the university in terms of administration of the classroom environment - here are some terms that could help:

For high school teachers, they went to college to learn how to teach. In a university setting, not all faculty members ever planned on being teachers and may have received little or no training on how to do it. They may have been trained in their fields of study, but have little background in teaching! At WOU, many of our faculty are great teachers because we don't have as intense of a focus on research. Our students will be able to connect with faculty much more readily than larger institutions.


If problems arise in an academic area and a student is having a conflict with a faculty member, the first and best course of action is to talk with the faculty member directly about concerns. If that doesn't work, then talking with the department head or dean can sometimes work. The idea of "going over the faculty member's head" often doesn't work in the environment of academic freedom and the autonomy of faculty.


Academic Expectations: College vs. High School

What are the differences between high school and college in terms of academic work? What is really different?



The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) is a law that discusses what rights to privacy exist within higher education. Whereas parents are directly involved in high school areas, WOU and other universities have strict limitations on what can be discussed or given to parents. The basic idea is that the student is now an adult and adults have rights to keep their information private from others. Students have to sign a legal waiver in order to allow others access to academic records or to be a part of conversations regarding confidential information.


Academic Advising

One of the biggest keys for students is the importance of academic advising. There are numerous requirements for students to get their degree and graduate from WOU. Western feels it is important that students receive a well-rounded education and not merely training for some narrow career. Part of this importance is understanding that many students don't even end up being employed in fields related to their major focus of study! Academic advising meetings with staff or faculty members will allow students to get individual attention. It will help map out classes taken, classes needed, major or minor options and much more. Students MUST meet with their advisor once each term in order to have an advising HOLD lifted so students can register for classes for the next term! The best times for students to meet with their advisor is around Oct 31, Feb 14, and May 1. Registration for the next term's classes takes place each term. For example, registering for winter term classes takes place about 2/3 of the way through fall term.


Outside the Classroom

There is a saying that a student learns about 80% of everything outside of the classroom. This is the time when students will be challenged in a lot of ways as they adjust to living independently. There is a large body of research and information about how students grow and develop. This student development process is why some decisions are made that seem counterintuitive. For example, if your student is having a conflict with her/his roommate, the first solution will not be to move the student or the roommate. In order for the student to learn how to handle conflicts, the students would be asked to try to solve problems themselves first. Students are given autonomy and the ability make decisions in a supportive environment here at WOU. Some of those decisions may not be the best, but students can learn from mistakes often more than learning just from successes.


Involvement & Leadership

There are dozens of reasons why a student should become involved with activities, leadership or student organizations at WOU. It is a focus and a strength of our university because of the small feel and the ability for students to make those individual connections.


Here is a fact that most people don't realize. The #1 determining factor whether a student will graduate from college has nothing to do with academics or finances, it is whether students feel connected to campus! If we can get students involved with an activity, group, internship, club or other area, it helps students feel that WOU is "home." Student will learn more valuable skills such as public speaking, group leadership, facilitation skills, teamwork through student organization and involvement. These skills will make people more attractive to employers, graduate schools, or other places after the student leaves WOU. This is a fundamental reason why we encourage all students to find some way of getting involved. Plus, it makes them have a much more positive WOU experience!


Residence Halls

The residence halls (known as 'dorms' a number of years ago) are a key part of the out-of-classroom experience! Students who live in the residence halls have been shown to have higher grades and more likely to remain at WOU! One big question is whether it is cheaper to live on- or off-campus. For WOU, the costs can't be measured solely with the cost of room and board. It is also about time, gas money, utilities and more. On campus students don't have to drive to classes, don't spend time making meals, doing dishes, don't pay cable or internet bills and much more. The savings in time and money can be substantial.


Students that live in the residence halls will also have a built-in opportunity to make social connections. A potential for life-long friends is great simply because s/he is living with a bunch of others with like interests! Again, these connections to others help builds a connection to campus!


Resources for Students

WOU has a large number of resources for students. It is best for you to familiarize yourself with these resources in order to assist students as the need arises. We've attached the web page link for the WOU website that can best assist!


Financial Aid - Finances can be particularly confusing. WOU charges tuition (which pays for most academic-related services and the operating areas of the university) and student fees (which go towards things like the University Center, student government, campus recreation and athletics). The combination of tuition and fees is what makes the university run. Encourage students to get involved with all the campus has to offer in order to make the most of their money!


Tutoring - WOU offers free tutoring for students for up to two hours per class per week! These are taught by veteran students who can provide group or individual help for a wide variety of classes.


Library - This can be a very intimidating place for a new student, but it shouldn't be. The library staff is always willing to help. There are numerous computers available for students, quiet study areas and a wide variety of online resources.


Advising - As mentioned above, the academic advising area can help students with selecting majors and help students find a low-stress way of navigating the academic requirements. It is NOT unusual for students to not know their majors coming to college. The best thing you can do is be supportive and encourage students to take a variety of classes until they find something that they like.


Student employment - Another important area for students! There are a bunch of student jobs available on campus with flexible hours that can meet college students' schedules. Students who work on campus also tend to earn higher grades while making that extra spending money!


Health and Counseling services - WOU has a great Health and Counseling Center that includes a wide variety of services that are free or at a dramatically reduced cost. Students who are having difficulty with adjusting to college life, depression, anxiety, relationships or a variety of other issues can find confidential support at the Counseling Center with the first five sessions of individual counseling by professional staff for free.


Vice President for Student Affairs' office - This is the place to go when you aren't sure where to go! This office has the connections and can refer you to the right place for the answers you need. They are also the office that advocates on behalf of students.


Issues Students Can Encounter

What follows are some issues that students may confront during their transition and time in college. It can be a stressful and chaotic time as the students attempt to find themselves socially, academically and shape the course of their adult lives! WOU is committed to helping our students with any and all issues that confront our students. As always, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


Academic Transition

For many students, the biggest challenge will be transitioning to the rigors and trials of university-level academics. Even good students in high school may find that they are not prepared for the additional coursework, less direction and more time required for schoolwork. Although there is a theory that students should spend "two hours outside of class doing reading and homework for every one hour spent inside the classroom," this is an exaggeration and not practical for most college students. Students should do everything they can to stay caught up. Procrastination on reading and assignments will assuredly lead to lower grades.


Some students lose their focus on academics as well. The idea that they have been in some sort of educational or school setting for the vast majority of their lives can be exhausting. Remember that WOU is a means to an end. It is a way of engaging and getting a better future in a field that interests them. As parents, keep an eye on whether students attend classes, lose motivation or are spending large amounts of time with video games or socializing. Long-term academic issues may be a sign of drug or alcohol use as well and should be addressed. Learning Center:



Many students will find themselves feeling homesick during the first term at WOU. They are certainly not alone! There are different ways of fighting this piece, but the student must be the one to initiate them for it to be successful. Suggest such ideas as student clubs, intramural's, going to comedians or other campus events or visit the Student Health and Counseling Center for additional advice and one-on-one help.


Drugs & Alcohol

College is often a time for students to experiment with drugs or alcohol now that they feel the independence from parental influence. WOU has a no-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol on campus and the Student Code of Conduct discusses sanctions for students who are caught involved with them illegally. As a parent, discuss issues about responsibility with these areas. A no-tolerance policy may or may not work for your child, but providing education can help. At WOU, we offer alcohol-alternative programs and our Campus Wellness Center makes a strong effort to outreach to new students about responsible choices. If you feel your child has issues with drugs or alcohol, contact the Student Health and Counseling Center for help and advice.


Students of Color

Transition for students of color can be quite different than students from white backgrounds. There is a good community and connections for students to get involved with. There are cultural events and clubs dedicated to making sure that these students can find a home here at WOU. All of the campus offices are a part of this mission, but the Multicultural Student Services and Programs (MSSP) office will be your first, best contact!



The staff and faculty at WOU want families and parents to know that we are committed to partnering for your student's success! Our small campus environment can help students on the road to success, but the student's have to learn to take charge of that process. We are with you along the way and if you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact us at the Parents Association numbers or any of the links above. We'll be with you along the way!









There are four different ways to contact the Parents Association



Parents (503) 838-8814 | or e-mail: