Conversation Guide for Parents: Spring Goal Setting

Before your student returns to campus for what is sure to be a wonderful spring semester, consider spending some time helping them set goals for the upcoming months. Check out our conversation tips below to help guide your discussion.

A great place to start is with a reflection on their successes and challenges during the fall semester. When the conversation turns to challenges, acknowledging effort ― even if the outcome was not what you had hoped for ― will be important. Frame their challenges as opportunities for growth for the spring semester, not as failures.

“Although I know you were disappointed you received a C in chemistry, I am proud of the hard work you put into the class. Chemistry is a tough subject and you tried your best. What are some things you discovered about your learning style from this class that will help you get a grade you are satisfied with in your next tough class?”

Next, help your student identify potential areas for improvement or benchmarks they would like to achieve this semester. Make sure their goals are measurable and realistic and keep in mind, not all goals will be academic ― and that’s okay. For example, encourage your student to set goals like “review study notes with someone in my class prior to each exam” as opposed to just, “get better scores on my exams” or “attend one interest meeting for an organization I am interested in getting involved in by February” instead of “get more involved on campus.”

“Have you thought about some goals you have for the spring semester? I know that for me, setting tangible goals I can check off when accomplished is helpful. Do you think the same would be beneficial for you?”

When they have decided upon some areas of growth, make sure to ask how they would like you to hold them accountable. Clarifying their preference for accountability from you will avoid them feeling like you are hovering or nagging. Remember, students are autonomous adults and want to feel supported from a distance.

“I know when we talked at the beginning of January you mentioned wanting to get involved with Relay for Life. Have you had the chance to check out one of their meetings? I’m just so excited about this opportunity for you.”

Finally, one of the most helpful ways to support your student from home is to become familiar with campus resources that will aid them in accomplishing their goals. We have listed some below for your reference.

  1. Student Success Center: The SSC is a comprehensive one-stop-shop for academic support services on campus.
  2. University Advising Center: The UAC provides undergraduate students with a variety of support services including advising, major change advising, academic coaching and assistance with the university withdrawal process.
  3. Career Center: The Career Center helps students make informed decisions about majors and/or careers through individual counseling, career assessments, and workshops. They can also help with finding hands-on experience, locating full and part-time employment opportunities and developing solid job search skills.
  4. Leadership and Service Center: The Leadership and Service Center maintains a list of recognized student organizations. There are 400+ student organizations at USC for students to get involved in!

As always, the Office of Parents Programs is available to answer any questions you may have when it comes to supporting your student. Call us at 1-800-868-6752 or email us at