Local family connection and support through the first semester of college
The transition process from high school to college can be filled with many rewards and challenges not only for students, but also for their families. As institutions have continued to evolve to support student success and retention, many universities have added or expanded parent and family program offices. While universities continue to work collaboratively with families promote student success, it is important to understand the how the needs of families may vary. One area to explore is the proximity of students to their family members and how distance may impact the transition for both students and families. A perceived problem in this study was that family members of local students were not as engaged as family members who lived outside the local area. The purpose of this action research study was to better understand and enhance the experience of local families as their students transitioned from high school to college. The study and innovation were grounded in two theoretical frameworks: funds of knowledge and Schlossberg’s transition theory. The innovation developed based upon learnings from these theoretical frameworks included four elements: (a) a family guide, (b) family newsletters, (c) an online family video series, and (d) an updated parent and family website. The study was a mixed methods action research study conducted over the course of one semester. Quantitative data was collected through the use of a presurvey at the start of the academic year and a postsurvey as the semester completed. Qualitative data was collected through individual interviews with local family members. The results of this study indicated that families who participated in at least one element of the innovation reported more knowledge of campus resources, felt more supported by the institution, and were confident in their ability to assist their student in the transition to college. Additionally, implications for practice and areas for future research were explored.