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Spelman College Parents and Family

Family Guide

Understanding Your Daughter’s Transition to College

Pride In Her Accomplishments

As parents or members of the extended family you can be proud of your daughter’s accomplishments. All of the young women accepted to Spelman are exceptional. The sacrifices you have made and the attention you have given to the task of parenting has brought you to this moment. Let your daughter know that you will continue to encourage her growth and development.

Doubts About Helping

Along with your feelings of pride, you may have some feelings of anxiety, anticipation and hope. After you have seen your daughter begin her first year at Spelman and return home, it is often difficult to know when you should become more involved. When should you let her handle matters on her own? When should you really be worried? Your daughter may change rapidly. She might seem quite dependent at times and very independent at others. She may seek your advice and guidance or not ask you to participate in making key decisions. When you witness this behavior remember that it is part of becoming an adult. Your family has entered the stage of development called “launching”. Launching involves providing a steady, supportive home base to which your daughter can return, while letting her attempt and find independence. Expect that there may be many fluctuations in your daughter’s mood, expectations and needs.


It is essential that you allow your daughter to accept responsibility for her college career. It is important that she demonstrate a commitment to her work that reflects her values, dreams and abilities. Those qualities may vary from what you may think is the best career for her. It is difficult to step back and allow her to struggle with discovering her path. Often, when parents expect a student to be responsible, she will rise to the challenge. If you shield her from responsibility, it will take her longer to learn. She may take a different path or discover a different method for handling her responsibilities than you would have suggested, but, then again, she might even surprise you by using you as a model for solving her problems. It is important that you remain an interested observer. Provide reassurance in her decision-making abilities. You may feel some anxiety and find yourself worrying. Being an active listener is helpful to your daughter in thinking through the various decisions she will make. Try to resist making her decisions for her. Guide from home with empathy and consistent support.


Your daughter may have very specific academic goals and career plans. She may find that the process of becoming a doctor, engineer, lawyer, sociologist, educator, or other professional is very different from what she imagined.

She will face new and exciting challenges in college. She will discover that even though she has a history of receiving excellent grades in high school, top grades are more difficult to earn in college. This may be an aspect of college life that can affect her confidence in her abilities at first. Encourage your daughter to use the resources that are available to her on campus. Have other family members call and have discussions with her about their strategies for handling challenges. There may be something that they have experienced that they can share with her. Reinforce to her that there is no shame in asking for help. Some of our students have never had to seek help before and are chagrined to find out that they must, if they are to succeed. Educate yourself to the resources available to her and suggest that she try to access them.

Learning Resources

The Student Success Program (formerly known as the Learning Resources Center) is an individualized laboratory support service for the Learning Resources Program. It is a well-equipped facility containing practice materials, audio-visual equipment, software books, reference materials and computers for student usage. The Center offers such services as instruction in reading and study skills, task management and test-taking, peer tutoring, academic support for students with special needs and preparation for placement examinations for graduate study (LSAT, GRE).

The math department and the foreign language department offer learning laboratories as well. There is an active program of student learning and assessment that begins at the first- year level and continues through the senior year.

There is also a comprehensive writing center with computers and writing resources, tutoring and workshops. Tutoring is available in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Computer and Information Science and Modern Foreign Languages.

The Freshman Success Program provides support and academic assistance for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics majors to increase success and retain students in the major.

The Women’s Research and Resource Center contains a collection of materials about women and serves as a place where students can come, relax, study and meet in small groups.

Planning a Career

The function of the Career Planning and Development is to help students of all classifications achieve their career objectives by clarifying their goals, identifying their skills and interests and making informed career decisions. Students are encouraged to begin meeting the staff during their first year of matriculation at the College. We encourage all students to participate in activities designed to build networking skills, polish resume writing and interviewing skills, provide career opportunities and prepare students for life following Spelman.

The Office of Health Careers serves as a repository of information for students interested in careers in the health professions. Information about professional schools, admissions requirements, financial aid, summer enrichment programs and career options is available.

The Office of Graduate School Relations encourages graduate and professional school enrollment among Spelman students. It also engages in building bridges with universities and programs that are interested in Spelman graduates.

Learning to Care for Herself

Health Services

The Department of Health Services is provided by Spelman College as an on campus facility, convenient and available to its student body. The Department of Health Services offers a variety of services including the evaluation and treatment of minor illnesses and disease. At this point in your daughter’s life, it is important that she learn to take responsibility for her health and learn the habits of good health maintenance. Education on preventative and wellness strategies for healthy lifestyles, comprehensive women’s health services, some immunizations, asthma treatment, laboratory services and health screenings are among the comprehensive services offered. Confidential referrals to local medical providers including HIV testing and counseling are also available. Encourage your daughter to familiarize herself with the services, her insurance information, before she needs it, and to keep the insurance card she is issued within easy access.

Counseling Services

All students who attend Spelman College are eligible for counseling by the licensed professional counselors of the Counseling Services Department. It is its philosophy to encourage healthy, positive emotional and psychological growth in young Spelman women. At Spelman, seeking counseling is considered a sign of strength, not weakness. Services include individual, group and couples counseling. An array of psycho educational programs are given throughout the year on relationships, self-esteem, assertiveness, substance abuse prevention, anxiety and depression prevention, and many others. Students are often referred to the Counseling Services department by faculty, staff, residential life directors, etc. Students self-refer and encourage their friends to enter counseling. Self-referrals may result from a person wishing to resolve a longstanding problem or to enhance their personal growth. Students with prior experience in counseling can continue with the counselors in this department. The psychiatric consultant is also available to students referred by their counselor . Students must obtain a referral from counseling services if they wish to use Spelman’s insurance to pay for services provided by an outside professional.

Disability Services

The primary goal of the Office of Disability Services is to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to all programs, both academic and extracurricular. Disability Services coordinates and provides a variety of services for students with learning and physical challenges and mental and emotional challenges, which substantially limit one or more major life activities. In addition, the office of Disability Services strives to create and promotes a positive attitudinal and behavioral response from faculty and staff when interacting with students. To receive services, students must provide current documentation of their disability from a qualified health professional.

PRIVACY: All of the above offices comply with existing federal and state guidelines regarding privacy of patient health information. (HIPPA).

Privacy of College Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Enacted in 1974, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), protects the privacy of college students’ records. Under FERPA (also known as the Buckley Amendment) parents transfer their rights to the student’s educational records once the student reaches 18 or attends a postsecondary institution.

Therefore, the students' educational records cannot be inspected by or released to parents.
Educational records include, but are not limited to the following: academic records, health records, counseling records and disciplinary records. Although parents may be paying the student’s college expenses, the student’s record is still protected by FERPA. Spelman, as an educational agency, will protect the student’s right under FERPA, unless the student chooses to waive it.

Self-Discipline and Character

Conduct: Becoming a Spelman Woman

Your daughter will become familiar with the patterns of conduct that are indicative of women of good character. She will be able to observe and begin to practice and improve upon her abilities to discipline self.

She should familiarize herself with the Standards of Excellence Honor Code and the Student Handbook published by the Division of Student Affairs.
She also should become familiar with the expectation of the college for academic honesty and integrity. In keeping with the highest standards, the college will not tolerate incivility, academic dishonesty and unethical practices.

All Work and No Play?

Although we expect her to make her academic work her first priority, we know that she will not fully develop if she does not have a satisfying and sensible social life. Her emotional intelligence is developed in a social context. In college she should improve upon her ability to handle various relationships, tolerate diverse views, and refine her skills of assessment and judgment of social situations. Her residence life experiences, and her experiences participating in student activities are a very important part of her Spelman experience. They will give her memories and bonding experiences that are invaluable. They will give her experience in handling conflict, understanding cultural differences, and creating sisterhood.

You’ve Done a Great Job!

Go ahead, brag about your daughter at Spelman! Relax. You have done a great job of loving her, teaching her values, morals, and life skills that allowed her to make it this far. She will build on this foundation at Spelman. As she strengthens and tests her wings at Spelman, you will be able to watch her fly away toward her dreams!

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