Virginia Tech® home


Hokie Family Handbook

Torgersen hall, Blacksburg campus
Photo credit: Mary Desmond

Help your student plan for success: a college timeline

Some people seem to be born with a passion for a specific field. Others change interests several times before finding their passion. Everyone has different methods for figuring out what excites them, so don’t let your student’s possible confusion about their life plan frustrate you. This is a normal stage in their development, and you can be sure they will find their way. Here are some things families can do to help their students thrive.

  • Encourage your student to explore their interests and abilities through taking classes in various fields. This may help give them a better idea of whether a particular subject fascinates them or is really only a mild interest.
  • Discuss engagement in volunteering and student activities with them.
  • Suggest that they visit Smith Career Center to learn more about themselves through self-assessment. This is a process to help students consider their interests, skills, values, and personality, and how these attributes complement majors and careers they may be considering. It helps them determine career options that may mesh with who they are.
  • At Virginia Tech, students are encouraged to focus on their gifts and talents, honing them into true strengths. Remind your student to take the CliftonStrengths® assessment to discover their top five strengths.
  • Talk to them about the previous year. Find out what they learned. They may have already chosen a major by this point, but if not, you can help them look at which majors fit best with their refined interests and strengths.
  • Encourage your student to take on leadership roles in student clubs and organizations. These opportunities can help broaden their experiences and develop skills that employers look for in employees.
  • Guide your student in exploring, practicing, and living the Aspirations for Student Learning. What they are learning—both inside and outside the classroom—combines with who they are becoming as a person and will help them thrive as they commit to a life of meaning and well-being.
  • Ask them about the career fairs that take place on campus. These events can be a wealth of information about employers, co-op or internship opportunities, and potential careers.
  • Sophomores experience a new kind of stress when returning to campus. Second-year students receive fewer warnings about the do’s and don’ts of college life—they are expected to know how things work on campus. Encourage them to be proactive and ask questions if they are unsure of any policies or procedures.
  • Ask them about research they have done on their chosen major. Encourage them to explore at least three career options related to their major, and help them identify organizations and associations afiliated with those careers or with their major. These organizations are great for networking.
  • Recognize that students are adults now, but offer support as they narrow their career interests and begin networking with professionals in their field.
  • Talk to them about the direction in which they are headed. Find out if they are already planning for their post-college life. Understand that they might be leaning toward something that would take them far from home or that you may think is impractical, but that it is their decision to make.
  • Show interest in their internships, jobs, and classes. Ask about the kind of work they’re doing.
  • Offer all your support during their last year. It can be a stressful time for some students.
  • Remind them to take advantage of career fairs happening throughout the year and Career and Professional Development’s advising opportunities on topics such as resumé development, job search assistance, mock interviews, and the graduate and professional school application process.
  • Sit back and be proud as your student dons their cap and gown on graduation day.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

FERPA was designed to protect the privacy of educational records, including student account information, and establishes the rights of students to inspect and review their records. Virginia Tech complies with FERPA and we do not disclose personal information on your student’s educational records to anyone, including family members, without the student’s documented consent. Have your student create FERPA passcodes for both themselves and you through Hokie SPA. You’ll need this to speak with university officials about personal and confidential information. More information about FERPA is available on the University Registrar’s website.

Academic Success Support

The Student Success Center offers free academic support, such as tutoring and study skills seminars, to undergraduate students at Virginia Tech. It also has programs and activities for students who are already succeeding academically but want to enrich their educational experience.