As your child starts on their U of S journey and takes that step toward independence, we recognize that this can be a challenging time. As parents you’ve spent many years encouraging independence; however, we realize that you may not be 100% certain about what to expect during a student's first year of university or what supports are available on campus.  Whether your son or daughter has moved out and lives in residence, in a rental home or still lives with you, there are a few things that can help ease the transition into successful university life.

Many Students Experience a Significant Drop in Marks

  • On average, students experience a 20% drop in their marks from high school to university – marks in the high sixties or low seventies are considered respectable.
  • Encourage your student to focus on the process of learning instead of on grades.  The first year is about learning how to learn (in a university environment) as much as it is about learning important material.  Focusing on the process will help to improve grades overall.
  • We have a Shifting Your Expectations page directed toward students that you might find helpful.  Additionally, we offer many academically focused resources for students to seek out. Students know their schedules, set of courses and academic needs best, so encourage them to become familiar with services that are freely provided at the U of S.
  • If your student is unhappy with a grade, suggest speaking with the professor to ask for feedback and inquire about how they can improve their grades.

Choosing a Major

  • Choosing a major can be a large stressor for students, but with our help and yours we can lessen this stress.
  • Help explore career options, internships, and volunteer opportunities associated with their new major. 
  • Encourage speaking with an academic advisor.  Academic advisors can help ensure program requirements and prerequisites are met and that each student is on track to graduate on their desired timeline. They also work with students to help overcome obstacles that may be in the way.
  • If your student is considering changing majors but is unsure, help investigate the options.  Focus on what is enjoyable and attractive about each possible major and try to avoid focusing on possible future income.
  • Encourage your son or daughter to take a career assessment or speak with a career coach to help solidify their career goals.

Encourage Autonomy

  • As tempting as it is to find resources to share with your student and to problem solve for them, part of the journey is learning how to address conflicts and solve problems.  Talk with your son or daughter ahead of time to determine what type of issues are appropriate to solve independently, and when it is appropriate to ask you to help. Suggest seeking out campus resources where possible.
  • Encourage owning choices. It is likely choices will be made that you don’t agree with and mistakes will happen.  This is part of the learning process – learning from mistakes builds resiliency and competency. 

Student Privacy

  • According to the privacy and access laws set out by the university, “Information such as whether or not a student is registered, their grades, student number, date of birth, membership in a designated equity group, address and telephone number, etc., are all considered to be private.”
  • Don’t be offended if an employee declines to speak with you or wishes to confirm third party authorization; this is for student privacy and safety.
  • Encourage your student to keep PAWS account information private.

Residence Assistants (RAs)

  • RAs are upper year students who are trained to provide support to students and to deal with various situations (especially those most often encountered by students living in residence) and are supported by University Staff.
  • If your student has any questions, concerns, or issues, encourage them to contact their RA.
  • Remember living in residence is a valuable opportunity to gain a variety of important life skills.


  • If your son or daughter lives at home while attending university, be prepared for absences. This includes missing meals and possibly family events. Transitioning into university is exciting and demanding, don’t take absences personally. 
  • If important exam or due dates have been shared with you, try to schedule family events after these or be aware that events near those dates may be missed.
  • Many students study late on campus, either alone or with study groups. The USSU’s Safewalk service is available for students who study late. During finals, in December and April, Safe Study is available for students who wish to study on campus 24/7.

Meeting New People

  • Meeting new people is a large part of the transition to university life – it can take time for students to find a group of people to connect with.
  • Each September there is a homecoming football game. Students have free admission with their student card. Even if students aren't football fans, this is a great way to meet others. There are multiple Huskie Athletic events throughout the year that are free for students to attend.
  • USSU student groups and volunteer opportunities on campus are also great ways to meet new people.
  • If you live outside of Saskatoon and your son or daughter frequently travels home on weekends, consider encouraging staying in Saskatoon every once in a while so they can spend the time that they aren’t in class attending events and meeting new people.
  • Be prepared for friend group diversification. The U of S is an inclusive campus – students, staff, and professors are from all walks of life representing a kaleidoscope of cultures, ethnicities, faiths, ages, abilities, genders, and sexualities. For many students, university is the first time they encounter such diversity and understanding how to interact with people who differ greatly from themselves can take time and may be challenging. You may encounter many questions or excitement regarding new knowledge about cultures and the diversity of people on campus.

Overall, university is an exciting time of growth.  Enjoy and embrace all the moments of this adventure.  We are here to support all students on their journey to independence as successful, contributing members of the wider community.  

You may also find the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Partnering to Support Your University Student video interesting.