When to Step In and who to contact
MOST issues you will hear about in conversations with your students are ones they will be able to manage themselves. And, most of the issues are multi-faceted. As a parent, one of the best things to do is to first restate what you think your heard your student express to you. If you are accurate, then the second thing to do is ask your student what s/he thinks might be options for addressing the issue. After finding possible options, utilizing your institution's website if necessary, it is important to, thirdly, confirm your student's plan of action for addressing the issue at hand. Try to let your student bring up the progress s/he has made to date. This balances with your interest in them and shows your trust in their ability to handle the situation.
When there is an imminent danger or a threat being posed, it is important to contact your student's institution to file a report. Either a student or parent may do this by calling Campus Police/Security. A call to the Dean of Students office may also be in order.
Usually when a parent calls to talk to a campus administrator or faculty member, it is difficult for those campus personnel to keep the call "confidential" and simultaneously deal with the issue at hand. Counseling personnel (Residence life staff and resident assistants included in this category) are required, by law, to report a threat to self or other to the appropriate authority. Threats to self or others trump all privacy laws that exist.
Most campus support services, such as counseling or academic coaching, are provided at little or no cost to college students. It is a perfect time in your student's life to take advantage of services that can help launch him/her into life.
A NOTE: Sometimes it is presumed that contacting the "highest" official will yield the quickest results. Contrarily, often the "highest" official will need to gather information from the offices that have the details such as residence life or student accounts. Most often is more effective to contact the office where the concern is with specifics about the concern. Students can and should make contact in person once they identify the appropriate office through the website or a series of phone calls.