LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)—This fall a record 21.5 million students will attend American colleges and universities.
About ten thousand of them will attend the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.
Whether you're a first year or returning student heading back to school can be stressful.
Rachel Ross will be a senior at UW-L this year; as a second year resident assistant, she's an expert on getting acquainted to college life.
"It's going to be tough and you're going to want to go to those high school football games and cheer your old friends. But it's critical to make your new friends," Ross said.
Ross said parents should encourage their children to stay on campus for at least the first two weeks.
"If you're thinking 'oh I have no friends, there's nothing to do on campus', think again," she said. "There are always so many fun things to do if you're not into sports there's definitely dramas and theater productions that go on besides the music concerts."
She said there are so many things to do on campus you don't need to waste your time finding a house party.
"You have your entire life to party why don't you just experience other things and new opportunities while also being safe and doing the right and legal thing," Ross said.
Lisa Jicinsky, Coate Hall Director, said parents should talk to students about drinking and be aware of the rules.
At UW-L if you're under 21, you can't even be in presence of alcohol.
"We try to be pretty up front with what those policies are," Jicinsky said. "We never try to catch someone or get them in trouble but we hold students accountable."
"They're all going to experiment," Ross said. "That's the thing about college. We're going to experiment with things but don't get caught up in it if it's not your thing."
Jicinsky said students need to know they're adults and they're going to be treated like adults and held accountable for their actions.
"(When we find someone drinking) often times their first question is are you going to tell my dad? Are you going to call my mom?" Jicinsky said.
She said that's why it's important for parents to talk to their kids about drinking and let them know they can come to them with problems.
Ross said finding a balance between studying and hanging out with friends can be challenging for some students.
"When I was a freshman I didn't make as many friends because I was trying to do the right thing by studying all the time," Ross said.
She said parents can help by encouraging students to study, but also to take breaks and make friends that will become your family away from home.
Some students will get homesick; Jicinsky recommends parents and students set up a routine of how often they'll talk during the semester before move in day.
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