BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – As the semester winds down, students at the Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business face final exams and most return home for the holidays. It also renews a period of adjustment for parents, who are still getting used to being empty nesters. How can they continue to be supportive of their loved ones, while encouraging them to be more independent?
To help, Kelley’s Undergraduate Program has produced a hour-long webinar for parents, “Helping Your Student Achieve Balance and Independence.” It is part of the school’s broader ongoing, collective efforts to help parents contribute to the success of their sons and daughters, who are transitioning into adulthood and professional life.
Kelly Higgins, MSW, LCSW and MBA and assistant director of student experience, who works with undergraduate students on issues involving mental health and wellness, presents information in the webinar. She also responds to common questions with the help of Kelley senior Brian Mitcham.
Prior to coming to Kelley in August, Higgins directed adult and family services at Centerstone of Indiana, which provides counseling and mental health care in communities across the state.
“What do we mean when we talk about mental wellness and balance here at Kelley? … It’s a state of thriving in various areas of your life – in your relationships, at work and play – and that’s really despite ups and downs,” Higgins said in her introductory remarks.
“It’s really about having self-acceptance and sort of that sense of yourself, understanding what your character strengths are and really having an accurate perception of reality, which is something that can be really difficult for anyone, but is especially difficult for students because they’re still trying to find their place in the world and finding what the realistic expectations are for them as adults,” she said.
The webinar offers practical guidance and highlights many Kelley School’s initiatives, activities and resources, including Kelley Balance Week scheduled each semester right before finals week. This week, students have been encouraged to gather at coffee breaks and yoga and meditation sessions. On Tuesday and Wednesday, service dogs in training are available to provide a “calming presence,” and a “balanced” breakfast will be served on Thursday.
Another useful resource for parents of Kelley undergraduate students is the Kelley Family Leadership Council. The organization consists of dedicated parent volunteers who engage fellow parents and families in activities enriching their children’s undergraduate experience. It is directed by Sara Herold, associate director of development and parent engagement, who is a proud mother to a Kelley graduate and another IU grad.
While the webinar was developed for parents of Kelley students, the school hopes that mothers and fathers of any college student will find it beneficial. “We are really proud of it and are excited to get it seen as widely as possible,” said Josh Perry, chair of the Kelley undergraduate program.