Fostering Student Success and Development at Dickinson
A Dickinson education is preparation for a lifetime of leadership, service, and engagement with the world. Our faculty and staff serve as mentors and educators for our students as they grow intellectually, grapple with real-life difficulties and challenges, and consider options and opportunities. We believe we share a common goal with parents, that of supporting and challenging your sons and daughters as they become:
• Confident and thoughtful decision-makers;
• Responsible and civil citizens and community members;
• Creative problem-solvers;
• Engaged, lifelong learners; and
• Adults who are responsible for their own academic and social choices.
At Dickinson, we help bright, aspiring young people mature into adults who are prepared for personally and professionally meaningful lives of contribution to society.
This journey of intellectual, social and personal development is rarely straight and smooth, and almost always marked by normal challenges and bumps in the road. As educators, we know that negotiating the transition toward independence and purpose will be exciting for your daughter or son. There may also be moments of confusion and uncertainty, as they explore new ideas, new experiences and new responsibilities, and as they develop the ability to resolve these challenges. A good education, both in and beyond the classroom, gives students the tools to learn and profit from the challenges, the successes and even the occasional failures they will encounter.
In our own ways, the college and parents can each play a significant role in encouraging students’ confidence and success in advocating for themselves, and learning to resolve the challenges that they will certainly encounter.
The college employs many capable individuals who are prepared to assist your daughters and sons in developing the skills to overcome and resolve challenges and to address their own concerns, most of which are fairly typical for a college student. In our experience, students who achieve the greatest success:
• Become familiar with college resources;
• Take initiative to solve problems;
• Gather information and explore alternatives;
• Make contacts with college officials, as needed;
• Weigh the pros and cons of their decisions; and
• Accept responsibility for their decisions.
When students come to us with concerns, we will encourage them to take the kinds of actions outlined above. As parents, you can nurture your son's or daughter’s problem-solving ability by encouraging the same behaviors.
The ways in which students, the college, and parents communicate with each other plays a significant role in fostering students’ problem-solving ability, and their development as advocates for their own issues and concerns. Our philosophy about the education of our students informs how we communicate with parents regarding student issues and concerns. We believe that the ideal partnership for fostering independence and adulthood is one in which most of our communications about student concerns is directly with students themselves.
For that reason, most times when a parent contacts an office hoping to directly resolve a student’s academic or social concern, the staff member on the phone will ask that we first have the opportunity to speak to the student. By creating this straight-line of communication between college and student we are affirming our goal of assisting students in developing their capacity for problem-solving.
We do not routinely report academic, social, medical, or personal problems to parents. However, there may be times, particularly in the first year as a student makes the transition to college, when a family consultation is warranted. In these instances, we typically ask the student to make the first contact with the parent and invite the college to participate in the conversation. The nature of the information that we share about your daughter or son will be in keeping with our educational philosophy, professional confidentiality codes and applicable Federal laws.
We know there could be a time when a concern is of a significant enough nature that it would be appropriate for parents to intervene. If you ever have a more serious or immediate concern about the mental, or physical well being of your son or daughter, we encourage you to make the College aware of the situation by contacting the Dean of Students’ Office (717/245-1639) or the Department of Public Safety (717/245-1349). In a situation where a student’s mental or physical well-being is of serious concern, the College is more likely to engage you as active partners in assisting your daughter or son in obtaining needed support or intervention.
We know that many students will continue to count on their families for advice and encouragement during the college years, and we value and respect your relationship.
Thank you in advance for continuing to encourage your son or daughter to work with us to seek solutions to the challenges that may arise during the course of their time with us. We look forward to working with your daughters and sons in the development of their intellectual and academic achievement, personal growth, and, of course, engaged citizenship.