Family Resources

A mother wearing sunglasses hugs her daughter on JHU's campus

As a family member, you are undoubtedly invested in your student’s academic and personal success in college. You want to continue to have a major role in your student’s life, but you also know that your relationship will change as your Blue Jay grows and develops. There are many ways you can support your student at JHU.

First, you are your student’s biggest champion. The motivation and support you provide is essential. When your student encounters unexpected challenges, your encouragement will help them troubleshoot and persist.

Next, we encourage you to become a knowledgeable resource. When your Blue Jay reaches out for help, share some resources and services that may be able to help. Explore and learn more about many resources available to help your Blue Jay make the most of their Hopkins experience and the support services in place to help them when they encounter challenges. Review the information provided below, view answers to frequently asked questions, and review the Blue Jay Family Flyer newsletters. Finally, reach out if you are concerned about your student.


Recommended Readings

  • “Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money” by Helen E. Johnson & Christine Schelhas-Miller
  • “Empty Nest, Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College” by Andrea Van Steenhouse, Ph.D.
  • “Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years” by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger, pub. Quill
  • “Parents’ Guide to College Life: 181 Straight Answers on Everything You Can Expect Over the Next Four Years” by Robin Baskin
  • “The iConnected Parent (Staying Close to your Kids in College (and Beyond) While letting them Grow up” by Barbara K. Hofer, Ph.D., and Abigail Sullivan Moore
  • “You’re On Your Own (but I’m here if you need me)” by Marjorie Savage, pub. Simon & Schuster

Encouraging Independence

The transition from dependence to independence can be challenging for family members, especially those who have been highly involved in their student’s daily life throughout high school. This transition is also an adjustment for your Blue Jay. Many students will look to their families for support and guidance during this time.

Assuredly, your unconditional guidance and support has helped your Blue Jay to achieve their goals thus far and has prepared them to enter this next stage of life. We encourage you to talk with your student about the type of relationship and level of family involvement that feels right as they enter and move through college. Each family and family member will have a unique experience with this adjustment.

At JHU, students are held responsible for their academics, finances, physical and mental health, and more. Additionally, they are held accountable for their actions and decisions. Families can support their students through open communication, encouragement, and motivation. It is important to be involved in your student’s life and show concern, while also allowing your student to make their own decisions and focus on new responsibilities.

Recognizing Students in Distress

Reporting a Concern

While we encourage students to become independent and manage their own personal and academic affairs, the safety and security of our students is our utmost concern. If you are concerned about a student’s health or behavior, please let us know right away. Complete a HopReach report or call the Office of the Dean of Students at (410)-516-8208. In case of an emergency, call Campus Safety and Security at (410) 516-7777.

HopReach provides comprehensive outreach services to identify and support students in managing all aspects of their JHU experience and their overall well-being. Case managers provide coordination, advocacy, referrals, and follow-up services for students who are experiencing significant difficulties related to mental health, physical health, and/or psycho-social adjustment.

We encourage you to check in with your student regularly about their overall wellness and mental health. Encourage your student to get involved in activities that provide a healthy balance to the rigorous academic life at JHU. As a family member, you may be the first to notice changes in your student’s behavior. If you think your student may be in distress and need to see a counselor, please contact us. The following are signs of student distress:

  • Behavioral or emotional changes
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and favorite activities
  • Change in hygiene or public appearance
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Talking or thinking about suicide
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Excessive anger
  • Others feel worried about them
  • Change in functioning (not attending class, not sleeping, sleeping too much)
  • Wanting to harm self or others
  • Apathy and indifference
  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness

Understanding FERPA

The educational journey that students take should be a shared experience. Parents and family members are a vital component on that voyage. For students to be successful they must be engaged in life opportunities vital to positive growth and development. John Hopkins mission is to educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world. We believe that parents and families are important to these accomplishments and is a key contributor to their success. They must take responsibility for the decisions they make and be accountable for the consequences of their actions. We will work directly with the student to find resolutions, while keeping in mind that parents and family are an important component to the student’s positive growth and development.

Johns Hopkins University has an unwavering commitment to student success, leadership and meaningful opportunities for engagement in and out of the classroom. We want our students to become critical thinkers, decision makers, establish core values and sound judgment. The university and the family are essential to this outcome. In order for this entire process to be a success it’s imperative that there is a strong relationship and commitment from both the university and family members.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s education record and prohibits the university from disclosing information from those records without the written consent of the student.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), colleges and universities are afforded certain liberties relative to notifying parents or guardians of information concerning their student.

In addition, the University may notify parents when there is a health or safety emergency involving their student, even if the parents do not claim the student as a dependent. For example if a student is not financially dependent on their parents or family members but list them as an emergency contact.

The parents and/or legal guardians of students under the age of twenty-one (21) at the time of disclosure may in the university’s discretion be notified if their child is found responsible for certain violations of the University alcohol or drug policies, and in cases that result in suspension and expulsion students.

Johns Hopkins University understands that decisions regarding family notification is dictated by the situation and the circumstances. We reserve the right to notify the family directly if we deem it warranted. However, we do encourage students to keep the lines of communication open with their families. Should a situation present itself, as outlined above, university staff will take every opportunity to speak with the student before contacting a family member to discuss benefits and challenges. The vice provost of student affairs or designees are professionals trained to handle these matters in the best interest of all concerned.

For further questions please refer to the PDF Document: FERPA policy or review a list of answers to frequently asked questions.