Information for the parents of college students

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College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student – and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below – and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

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February 28, 2015   No Comments

Has Your Student Found the College with the Best Fit?

According to a new survey conducted by Noodle Education, one of the issues parents are most concerned about is that their college student find a college that is the right “fit.”  72.5% of parents ranked this as highly important to them.

Students, too, want to find a college that is the right fit.  Guidance counselors encourage students to look for the college that is the right fit.  Colleges claim to be the right fit for your student.

So what exactly does it mean to say that a college is the right “fit” for a student, and how can a student find that fit?

“Fit”

The quality of fit in a college is a complex concept.  It is often difficult to define or describe, but students often know it when they find it.

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February 26, 2015   No Comments

What Do We Know About College Freshmen?

The answer to the question of what we know about college freshmen is both “not much” and “a lot.”

If you have a college freshman, you may often feel as though you don’t know much about him.  If he is living away from home, you may feel particularly out of touch with his day-to-day life.  And even if he shares some information with you, you may sometimes feel as though you just don’t understand him.  As frustrating as this can be at times, this is typical, normal, and probably appropriate.

On the other hand, however, many institutions, organizations, and individuals continue to do research about first year college students and we continue to learn more each year.  While this information is general, of course, and compiles averages rather than talking about your individual student, it is helpful for parents to understand some of the norms for first year college students.

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February 16, 2015   No Comments

How Hard Is College?

Does your soon-to-be college student worry about how hard college is going to be?  Probably.  Do you worry about how hard college will be for your student – and whether she’ll be able to do well?  Probably.  Can you find the answer?  Probably not.

Many, if not most, college students – or almost-college-students – and their parents worry about how hard college will be.  Students may not voice their concerns out loud, but they are there.  Will school be hard?  Will I be able to do the work?  Will I understand the material and what is being asked of me?  They may ask their advisors, faculty members, other students – “Is this class hard?”

The answers may not be very satisfying.  It depends.  Hard is relative.  It may be as hard as you make it.

What do students mean by “hard?”

Hard, of course, can mean many things – and different things to different people.  It may mean difficult, challenging, complex, time consuming, a lot of work.  It may mean arduous, demanding, exacting, strenuous, exhausting, grueling, painful, distressing, brutal, complicated, intense.

A lot of scary words.

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February 12, 2015   No Comments

Is Your College Student Going to Class?

As a college parent, your answer to whether your student is going to class may be, “I assume so” or, “I hope so” or even, “I have no idea.”  Unless your student is living at home, once your student goes away to college, most parents have no way of knowing whether their student heads to class each day or not. While not knowing the answer to the question may bother many parents, these answers may be the most appropriate answers that we can give.

Going to class matters

Class attendance matters, even if professors don’t keep track.

Three specific studies support the importance of class attendance.  One study, conducted by Robert M. Schmidt, suggests that time spent in the classroom is the most important determinant of student success.  David Romer conducted another study in 1993 which found that students with strong attendance often averaged one letter grade higher than those who missed class frequently.  Still another study, conducted by Gary Wyatt, found that students with higher parental income tended to miss more classes, students who spent more time studying tended to miss fewer classes, and reinforced the finding that fewer absences translate into higher GPA.

It is common sense that students who spend time in class will do better, but research also supports this.

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February 9, 2015   No Comments

Is Your Student Rising to the Challenge of Preparing for College? Finding Solutions.

In December 2014 Achieve, Inc. released the report Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work?  We think the information in this report is important not just for schools, but for parents as well.  In our last post we shared some of the results of this survey.  In this post, we share some of the implications for parents and students.

Preparing to succeed in college seems to begin earlier and earlier.  Laying the solid foundation of academic skills, softer life skills, and getting ready for the admissions process takes years.  Some of the work is conscious for your student, and some may happen unconsciously.  Some is under your student’s direct control, and some of the preparation depends on your student’s school, family, and mentors.  Can you help?  The answer is a resounding yes, but not necessarily in ways that you might think of at first.

Both parents and students can, and must, take control of the college preparation process.

How does this affect me – or my student?

Achieve works primarily on a state level, and as a result of this survey the organization has made several important recommendations to states and to individual school districts.  We think the information is important to parents, too, and we think that parents can, and should, talk to their high school students about some of these findings.  Students who become aware of shortcomings while they are in high school rather than after high school are in a position to do something to improve their own preparation.

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February 5, 2015   No Comments

Is Your Student Rising to the Challenge of Preparing for College? What’s the Problem?

In December 2014 Achieve, Inc. released the report Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work?  We think the information in this report is important not just for schools, but for parents as well.  In this post we share some of the results of this survey.  In our next post, we’ll share some of the implications for parents and students.

Preparing to succeed in college seems to begin earlier and earlier.  Laying the solid foundation of academic skills, softer life skills, and getting ready for the admissions process takes years.  Some of the work is conscious for your student, and some may happen unconsciously.  Some is under your student’s direct control, and some of the preparation depends on your student’s school, family, and mentors.  Can you help?  The answer is a resounding yes, but not necessarily in ways that you might think of at first.

A new study has just been released about students’ high school experiences and how they relate to college experiences.  It contains important information that parents can use to understand specifically how both students and parents can take more control of the college success preparation process.

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February 2, 2015   1 Comment

College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student – and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below – and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

[Read more →]

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January 29, 2015   No Comments

It’s Time to Love Your Second Choice College

As a parent, you want your child to be happy.  It began when they were infants, and it hasn’t changed.  And for some students about to head to college, happiness may mean learning to love their second choice college.  They may need your help understanding how to do that

The facts are there.  According to a recent study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, fewer than 57% of students in the United States are attending their first choice college.  That means that your student may wind up attending her second (or third or fourth) choice of college.  It is interesting to note, however, that over 75% of students were admitted to their first choice of school.  This means that your student (or you as a family) may make the choice to attend a school other than your student’s initial first choice.

Some research is also suggesting, however, that where your student attends school is going to matter less than her attitude and her actions once she gets there.

What can I do to help my student make the adjustment?

The first thing that you can do is to honor your student’s disappointment.

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January 26, 2015   No Comments

Book Review: Building Resilience in Children and Teens

There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years and beyond.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Check out our Recommended Reading Lists at the end of this post.

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.

In this review, we’ll take a look at Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings by Kenneth R. Ginsburg and Martha M. Jablow.

At first glance, at least looking at the title of the book, it appears as though by the time your student is headed to college it may be too late to read this book.  But first impressions may be wrong.  Although we would recommend this book to parents when their children are young, the teenage years, and even the college years, are not too late for helping your student build resilience.

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January 22, 2015   No Comments