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Family Orientation

Family Orientation

We are excited to welcome you and  your student to our PPSC community! Explore these resources that support your student leading up to and during their time at PPSC.
Join our Parents and Families Email ListComplete the New Student Orientation as a guest



Learn about resources and how you can support your student leading up to and during their time at Pikes Peak

Topics Include:

• What to Expect - Student and Parent Expectations about College

• Financial Aid Overview - What Parents Need to Know about Financial Aid

• College Resources - Programs and Supports Available to Students

You Are an Important Part of Your Student's College Experience

As the parent, guardian, family member, or friend of a Pikes Peak student, your support and encouragement matters. 

College is a time of opportunity and excitement - and challenges.

Your role as a listener, your belief in your student, and the message you send your student - that they will learn and grow from their experiences - contributes to the success of your student.

Learn about your new role as a family member of a college student, and the resources and opportunities available to your student.
Student smiling

Common challenges for first year students:

College may present time management challenges to students who have new and multiple responsibilities.

Encourage your student to use free time during the day to study and complete assignments. 

Discourage leaving all academic work until the evenings. Help your student explore and create intentional structured time with the following questions: 

  • Do you use a calendar to block your time?
  • What strategies do you have for prioritizing your school and life responsibilities?
  • What behaviors are helping you use your time effectively?
  • What behaviors are not helping you use your time to meet your goals?
  • What time of day are you most productive?
  • What time of day is not productive for you?
  • How can family support you?

New students often procrastinate. Procrastination causes stress, and can be a difficult habit to change. 

Encourage your student to reflect on when and where they procrastinate.  

Encourage your student to make conscious choices about how they spend their time and energy - writing their goals down and placing them in a visible place .Help your student understand that change can take time, but small steps can make a difference. Blocking time on a calendar, contacting an Advantage Coach for strategies and support, and talking with peers are strategies students find helpful. The following questions can guide student decision-making:

  • What are your priorities this semester?
  • What are your short-term goals?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What will help you balance your family responsibilities/work responsibilities with your student responsibilities?
  • What behaviors or habits help you focus?
  • What behaviors or habits distract you from getting work completed?
  • What one or two strategies will you try this week?

Sometimes students feel guilt about the amount of time required to succeed in college. You can help your student know that they are valued by the family, even if they cannot participate in all family events or activities because of college responsibilities. Sometimes students feel guilt when their views or understanding of the world changes.

You can encourage your student to talk about what they are learning. Listening to their experience creates a shared understanding. Ask questions. Learning often brings new understanding, perspective, and ideas - to parents and the whole family! 

Encourage your student to visit a Financial Aid Advisor to get answers to their questions about financial aid, financial responsibilities, and the financial support students can apply for. Contact our Financial Aid office: 719-502-3000

Encourage your student to create a budget, plan their expenses for the semester, and track their spending. Your student might find these resources helpful:

PPSC is a commuter college, which means that students are coming and going from the campus, and making new friendships may be challenging. Social connections influence: 

  • personal wellness
  • enjoyment of learning
  • engagement 
  • learning
  • stress
Encourage your student to stay on campus longer than attending a class. Social connections form as students:

  • start a study group
  • join a study group
  • participate in a club or organization, and/or
  • talk with students in class 
Engaged students:

  • have higher GPAs
  • report higher satisfaction with their college experience
  • increase their opportunities for career connections, and
  • build a positive support network to help them meet their goals

Prompts for Thoughtful Conversations about College

Laying the foundation for a good college experience starts with expectations.

Below are questions to that can guide a conversation with your student about your - and their - expectations of college and the college experience at Pikes Peak.

  • What are your expectations of your student while he or she is in college?
  • What are your expectations of Pikes Peak?
  • What are your expectations about what a college certificate or degree will provide your student, in terms of opportunity, salary, jobs, lifestyle?
  • What is your awareness about why your student wants to attend college?
  • How is your family impacted while your student is in college? How does this impact your student?
  • What is your understanding of your student’s short-term and long-term goals?
  • Have you had conversations about your expectations with your student?
  • Has your student shared their expectations with you?


Two dance students in class

Understanding Typical First Semester Experiences

Many new and returning students experience a similar pattern of emotions and challenges throughout the first semester. 

Family members who understand the ebb and flow of emotions the first semester, and year, of college are better prepared to help their student navigate challenges.

Listed below are some adjustments students typically face during their first semester/s at PPSC.

The following information is adapted from Helping Your First Year College Student Succeed: A Guide for Parents.
Students viewing wildflowers

• Feelings of excitement and a sense of possibility • Feelings of anxiousness • Testing new stage of life and responsibilities, freedom, and independence • Anxiety about professors, classes, financials, new schedules, policies, and procedures • Challenges with managing time, responsibilities, schedules, habits • Stress related to homework and exams

Two male students in class

• Excitement and sense of possibility shifts to feeling overwhelmed and busy with academics and responsibilities • Possible new friendships emerge, or possible loneliness for peer relationships with changes in college schedules and locations of friends • Student may question, “Do I fit here?” or “Did I make the right choice in enrolling at PPSC?” • First grades are returned • Midterm exams take place • Midterms grades are returned

Student working at computer

• Many papers and exams due before a school break • Increased academic pressure, especially if procrastination is experienced • Potential to cope with stress through non-productive behaviors (lack of sleep, poor eating habits, alcohol consumption, or lack of exercise) • Common to experience onset of illness (cold, flu, strep, etc.) if self-care is compromised • Financial stress of running low on funds

Student in lecture

• Anxiety over preparations for final exams • Excitement and/or anxiety for the end of the semester (final grades, a new transition) • More time spent in study groups, tutoring center, and/or class projects • Exhaustion • Sense of accomplishment and/or disappointment in their performance in courses



Student painting outside

What Kind of Time Does College Take?

Each course is a specific number of credits.

The number of credits equals the number of lecture hours in that course each week. For example, a three-credit course is three hours of lecture each week. 

For every hour of lecture, a student should anticipate another one-to-three hours of work outside the lecture.

Generally, a student enrolled in a three-credit course can expect five to nine hours of coursework each week of the course (if the course is taken in a 16 week semester). This means three hours of lecture, plus two-to-six hours of homework and studying.

Where and when a student studies and completes assignments is a personal choice.

However, students benefit academically and socially from engaging with classmates in study sessions, homework sessions, and class projects.

When students stay on campus to complete homework, they can:

  • access the free tutoring center in our Learning Commons;
  • meet with Coaches for time management, study strategies, and note taking strategies; 
  • use our library services for research or resources

Participation in Student Life:

  • creates a sense of belonging
  • is fun, and
  • builds community.

Your student is in college to pursue a degree or certificate, and to learn about themselves, our diverse world, to network, learn from others, and explore their interests through new experiences.

Student Life activities, clubs and organizations, and volunteer opportunities provide a platform for increased learning, growth, and social connection.

Many of PPSC's students work while attending college.

The number of hours a student works is an individual choice based on the circumstances and choices in a student's life.

We encourage students to prioritize the time necessary to be successful in their courses. Students are paying money, and investing time and intellectual resources to learn. Making this investment the priority in the short term likely provides the student with the most opportunity to succeed in passing courses and graduating in the time they have planned. 

Students can explore jobs on campus through our Career Services department!

Discuss Common College Myths

Students and families might have assumptions about what college "should" look and feel like. Often, these "shoulds" are myths! 

At PPSC, we strive to help every student succeed in meeting their educational goals. Our Student Services departments, staff, and instructors are here to serve students. 

We believe all people benefit from a "Growth Mindset"; that every person has the capacity to improve and develop their knowledge, skills and abilities with effort and learned strategies.  

Common Myths about College

College is a community! 

PPSC provides many opportunities for students to get involved in Student Life, and to build community. 

Students will get more out of their time in college by:

  • engaging in clubs, organizations, student life events, and volunteer opportunities
  • developing relationships with peers, instructors, and staff
  • participate in study groups and academic events

When a student finds a course difficult, it means that they are challenged by the material.

Sometimes students need help to succeed - this is why PPSC has free tutoring, and why professors have office hours!

Encourage your student to ask for help early and often.

Every student arrives at college with academic strengths and challenges. Learning can be challenging and uncomfortable! In fact, most people learning something new feel vulnerable. It takes courage to be vulnerable.

Encourage your student, especially when things are not easy.

Family is an anchor for students, and your belief in your student's ability to persist is a foundational emotional support.

Understanding that courses will be hard at times gives students permission to ask questions, ask for help, and seek learning strategies that support learning.

Professors teach at PPSC because they value getting to know their students!

Professors teach material, and they:

  • provide mentoring
  • give career perspective and advice, and
  • help students gain knowledge to make personal decisions about their college and career goals 

Encourage your student to help their professors get to know them as a student! Encourage them to ask questions in class and visit during office hours.

Failing a course means the course was difficult. It does not mean the student should not continue in college.

If a student fails a course, they can retake the course in a subsequent semester.

Once the student passes that same course, their new grade will replace their failing grade (and only the new grade applies to their GPA).

If your student is struggling in a course, encourage them to (early and often!):

  • talk to their instructor about what part/s of the course are confusing or difficult
  • go to free tutoring in the Learning Commons
  • join a study group, and
  • contact an Advantage Coach 
Students seated at graduation
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