So your baby bird has just jumped out of the nest—starting their first year at college, that is. Or maybe your child has been away at school for a while, and you want to make the most of their calls home.
Sometimes it can be hard for students to open up about how they are doing, and as a parent, you definitely want to know. But simply asking about school is not always enough to jump start a meaningful conversation. Here are a few questions to ask instead of the typical “How’s school?” so that you can get foster a deeper relationship with your college student.
If you want a response that has more to it than “I’m fine,” give this blog post a read!
1. “What was the best thing that happened to you today?”
Superlatives are always a great way to get a conversation starter because they really make your college student stop and evaluate his or her experiences that day. And besides, as a parent, how could you not want to share in the best part of their day?
Conversely, you can also ask “What was the worst thing that happened to you today?” This question opens up a larger range of answers. You might get a more humorous or insightful response that helps you learn about some of the struggles of your college student.
2. “What is something that made you laugh recently?”
Humor is a great way to break the ice in a conversation—and everyone loves telling a story that gets a few laughs. Ask your child for a funny story and prepare yourself to hear about a quirky friend, clueless professor or maybe even an embarrassing moment he or she had that day. You never know what kind of answer you’ll get with this question, but it should get you and your child on the way to a great conversation!
You can also ask “Have you and your friends had any funny adventures?” This is a great question to help you get to know more about their friends, and every college student has a few stories up his or her sleeve about late night runs to McDonald’s or rambunctious study groups.
3. “Were you able to help someone today?”
All parents want their children to show love to others, and this is a great question to remind them of the verse John 13:34, which says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This question might be your ticket to a proud parent moment (just don’t let your college student know how much you’re beaming on the other end of the phone). You can also ask the inverse of this question, “Did anyone bless you today?” It is a great way to bring in a discussion of humility and relating to others, which are important skills when it comes to navigating the real world.
4. “What was the most interesting thing you learned in class today?”
While this question is in the same broad "how's school?" category, it's tailored enough to let your student answer in an easier way. College students are used to being asked about their grades, major, and future plans at every family gathering, so tweaking the question offers a welcome respite. Inquiring about the coolest, craziest or most useful thing they got out of class that day is a way to open up a conversation about academics and the stress and success that comes with it.
5. “What are some of your goals for this semester?”
Asking your child about their goals is a great way to learn what is on their mind about the future, whether it’s grades, career or even relationships with others. A common goal among students is straight A’s, but you may want to encourage your child to think about other goals that are not as numbers-centric but perhaps deal with improving themselves or their grades from last semester. Or perhaps their goals are to volunteer more, make new friends or get a part-time job. Help them think through the steps they need to take to reach their goals—and perhaps share some goals of your own.
6. “How can I be praying for you?”
You are probably already in prayer for your college student, but reminding them that you are praying by asking for prayer requests is a great way to broach deeper subjects. You may be surprised at what you learn they are facing while away from home. Ultimately, the most important conversation you can have with your child is about growing spiritually.
We hope these conversation starters were helpful to you! Comment below with a good question you like to use in conversation.