Academic Advising & Transfer Center > New Freshmen > Parent’s Handbook

Parent’s Handbook


Parent’s/Guardian’s Role

We know that you have a strong interest in your student’s experience at Mason. We believe that parents and guardians play a very important role in a student’s college success, a role that no other person can fill. You are your student’s biggest supporter and know your student better than anyone.

Students confront many adjustments as they make the transition from high school to college. This may be the first time that they have to assume full responsibility for their own day-to-day life. They are developing adult identities, and must take responsibility for their own decisions. Your student will be making new friends, may be living in a new place, and delving into academics that are far more challenging than what they had experienced in high school. New Freshman often find themselves needing to step out of their comfort zones and adjust their routines and habits in order to accommodate their new college lives. Though Mason has many resources to help students with this transition, none will be as important as your reassurance and support.

Parents/Guardians have a unique opportunity to act as the student’s primary supporter. You can encourage your student to seek out an advisor, residence hall staff, and faculty members when you feel he or she is struggling. You can familiarize yourself with the many student services on campus in this handbook. The more you learn about what is available at Mason, the better prepared you will be to help direct your student to the appropriate service. Although you may be tempted to make that contact for your student it is important that your student contact the appropriate office. Knowing when and how to seek advice fosters maturity that your student needs to learn as a young adult. Developing maturity and responsibility is a major developmental goal for the college years. If you feel unsure of what support service your student might need, suggest that he/she call the Academic Advising & Transfer Center; we can help determine the best available resources.

During your student’s time at Mason, he/she will be learning new things about the world and themselves. Always let the student know that you are interested in their decisions and care about what they are doing. Keep a sense of humor while reassuring and encouraging their success. Assure your student that he/she possess the intelligence, character and strength to succeed at Mason and that mastery of the college experience, academically and socially, takes time.

For more tips on how to support your student please check out George Mason University’s University Life website.


Creating an appropriate course schedule


Twelve credits and higher is considered full-time. Most courses are three credits each. Students who plan to graduate in four years should take approximately fifteen credits each semester. Sometimes students have lab courses that have additional credits. Students often need to be full-time to maintain health insurance, scholarships, and on-campus housing.

This does not mean that your student should always sign up for the maximum amount of credits. We often recommend that first semester freshman register for 12-13 credits because they have many challenges and transition issues during the first semester in college. We want students to have a successful first semester and feel confident in their ability to do well at Mason after their first semester. By limiting the course load, students may find the transition a little easier.

Students should also make sure that they have a balanced course load. Students will be taking general education courses their first few semesters. This will allow them to learn about many different subjects and explore possible majors.

We also encourage new freshmen to enroll in UNIV 100. This is a one credit freshman transition course that helps students learn about the campus, the resources available to them and how to do well academically. It gives them the opportunity to connect to other students in a small class atmosphere. To learn more about this course go to the Transition Resource Center’s website.


General Education Requirements


General education requirements are courses that all students must fulfill. Students typically take most of their general education requirements their first few semesters at Mason. It is important for students to meet with their advisors to make sure they are taking the correct general education courses. Some colleges and schools have additional requirements.


Academic Standing


Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (gpa) of 2.00 or better to be considered in good academic standing. Students cannot graduate with less than a 2.00 gpa. If a student’s cumulative gpa falls below a 2.00 he/she will be placed on warning, probation, or suspension depending on how many credits the student has attempted. Click here to go to the academic standing retention chart.

First- semester freshman cannot be placed on probation or suspension. Students falling below a 2.00 after the first semester will be put on warning and a hold will be placed on their academic record. Students will be required to meet with an academic advisor to create a plan for success in the next semester and will be limited to taking 13 credits. If they have already registered for more than 13 credits, they will have to drop one of their courses.

To learn more about academic standing please consult the Office of the Registrar’s website.


Communication between Mason and parents/guardians


Communication between the university and parents/guardians can be complicated due to confidentiality laws.  The university is bound to keep student information confidential and cannot be shared with parents without the student’s permission.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) dictates that the university must have a student’s written consent to release information from the student’s educational record.  To find out more about FERPA please go to the Office of the Registrar’s website

If a parent/guardian would like to sit in on a student’s appointment at the Academic Advising & Transfer Center, the student must first sign a waiver for that particular session.  The waiver is only applicable to one appointment and does not grant permission for future appointments or contact of any kind (i.e., email, telephone). Parents are encouraged to keep the lines of communication open with their student and to ask their student directly how he/she is doing.

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