Information for the parents of college students

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Knowing the Lingo: Can You Talk the College Talk?

Every profession, activity, or area of interest has its own jargon or set of specialized vocabulary.  College is no different.  College staff, faculty members and students develop a set of short-hand terms that can be confusing to those not familiar with them.  As a college parent, you may be surprised at how quickly your college student will pick up the lingo.

It’s easy to start to feel left out.

If your college student slips into “college-speak” and you don’t understand what she is talking about – ask!  But if you want to be able to at least begin to talk-the-talk, we’re here to help you get started.

We’ve just added a new feature to the College Parent Central website – a glossary of terms to help you understand the lingo – and talk college!  You’ll find the glossary page in the navigation area in the left sidebar of the site.

We’ve included 45 generally used college terms to get you started, and we’ll be adding more in the next few months.  We hope that having some of the language of college in hand will help you talk to your student about her college world.

Please remember that there may be some variation in the use of these terms at various institutions.

Don’t be intimidated by college terminology or “lingo”.  If you’re not sure what something means, ask!  You’ll be “talking college” before you know it.

Feel free to leave a comment here if there are more terms you think we should include – or other features you’d like to see on the College Parent Central website to help you in your college parent role.

College Lingo for College Parents – Talk the Talk!

March 20, 2017   No Comments

What Is a Degree Audit and Why Does It Matter?

Just as businesses conduct a financial audit to make sure their financial practices and reports are complete and accurate, college students should conduct a degree audit to make sure they are on track toward graduation.  Based on the results of their financial audit, businesses may make adjustments to their financial processes.  So, too, students, based on their degree audit, are in a better position to plan their degree completion.

Your college student should be tracking his own progress and course completion each semester, but just as many financial audits are conducted by objective, outside auditors, a degree audit should be conducted by the Registrar, Advising Office, or Academic Advisor at the college.

What is a degree audit?

A degree audit is an analysis of your student’s academic progress toward a degree.  It helps your student monitor where he is and what he still needs to do to complete his requirements.  A degree audit is an advising document that maps out degree requirements and compares them against your student’s transcript.  It is a vital tool for academic planning, course selection, and scheduling and should be used in conjunction with consultation with the student’s academic advisor.

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March 13, 2017   No Comments

Parenting Your College Transfer Student: Navigating the Decision, the Process, and the Transition

Roughly 2.5 million college students every year transfer to a different school.  Statistics from the United States Department of Education suggest that close to 60% of college students will attend more than one school before they graduate.  While many students find just the right college and stay there four years, these statistics suggest that there is a good chance that your college student may consider a transfer to another college at some point during his college career.

While the overall transfer rate in the United States may suggest that transferring is now the norm for many, if your child decides to transfer, the process is a significant event for him, and for you.  Even though others may be going through the same process, it does not lessen the impact of the decision for your individual student.

For some students who attend 2-year institutions, the decision may not be whether to transfer, but rather where to transfer.  For other students, the decision is more difficult because transfer is a choice.  Your student will need to go through a process of deciding whether or not a transfer is the right answer for him.  If he decides to make a change, he will need to complete the actual process of transferring, and finally he’ll need to make the transfer successful once it happens

What are transfer options?

Many students make what is called a vertical transfer.  Quite simply, this is a transfer from a two-year college to a four-year institution.  The student may have opted to begin her college career at a community college or a junior college.  After completing work there, perhaps with an Associates’ Degree, she transfers to a four-year institution to complete her undergraduate work for a Bachelor’s Degree.  Some two-year institutions have Articulation Agreements with four-year schools.  This means that the student may have direct entry into a program at the partnering institution.  This type of transfer is a big step, but does not have the emotional weight of a difficult decision.  It is a natural next step.

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March 6, 2017   No Comments

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 27, 2017   No Comments

Book Review – Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  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.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone.  Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage by Kelly Radi is an easy-to-read, helpful book for parents about to send their child off to college.  Radi uses the metaphor of a ship setting sail to help parents understand, and become more comfortable with, the process of helping their child start out, and succeed, in college.

Part One of the book, Preparing to Set Sail, is a good reminder to parents that any good voyage requires preparation.  We like the practical advice that Radi provides, as well as her ability to help parents grapple with defining their own role.  The “helicopter parent” quiz in chapter 2 is particularly telling, and takes this often overused term and defines what it looks like in students’ and parents’ real life.  Parents can find out early how much of their own work they may need to do to help launch their child.  What follows is great practical advice on everything from money discussions, what to pack, and how to think about getting around campus.

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February 23, 2017   No Comments

Why You Need to Talk to Your College Student About Academic Integrity

Values, honesty, kindness, caring, work ethic.  We spend much of our children’s lives teaching them – overtly or through example – about the values that we hold dear.  It’s part of what raising a child is all about.

So by the time that our students reach college, we may assume that we’re done.  We’ve put in the work over the years to teach/show them what we believe and now they’re on their own to put it into practice. If they haven’t gotten it by now, there’s no use doing more talking.

While it’s true that we’ve been teaching and modeling values all through our children’s lives, it’s important – as your student heads to college – that you talk with him about academic integrity.  It matters, and your student’s college career could depend on a solid understanding of what it is, why it matters, and how to prevent getting into “integrity trouble.”

Where do you start?

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February 13, 2017   No Comments

Why You Need to Discuss Social Media with Your High School or College Student

Social media have become part of the fabric of life for most of our high school and college students.  But for many parents, discussing social media with our students is not something we really want to do.  After all, there are so many options – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Yik Yak, LinkedIn, Periscope, and something new seemingly every week. How do we keep up? Where do we start?  What do we say?

Why do we even need to have the conversation?

There are lots of reasons to talk to your student about his use of social media, and many parents have already had some of these important conversations when their students were younger. We talk about the amount of time spent, we talk about being careful about what gets posted, we talk about cyberbullying, and we talk about separating fact from fiction.  At least we should.  But it isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always comfortable.  In fact, it seems to get less comfortable as our students get older.

Two important topics to discuss – at least for a start – are the amount of time spent on social media and the importance of carefully considering what your student posts.

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February 6, 2017   No Comments

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 →]

January 30, 2017   No Comments

Helping Your Student Manage Expenses in College

There’s an overwhelming amount information available to parents and students about the cost of college tuition, financial aid packages, and finding scholarships to help make college more affordable.  There’s no getting around the fact that college is expensive and that parents and students need to talk about the cost of college and how they plan to make that work.

But beyond the big picture, once your student is in college, the responsibility of managing the day-to-day expenses in college should shift to your student.  This might be a gradual process; it doesn’t need to happen all at once, but college is an excellent time to practice financial skills to prepare for the “real world” after graduation.

Talk to your student

One interesting finding in surveys of student finances may be surprising to many parents: students want to learn more about managing their money – and they want to learn it from their parents.

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January 23, 2017   No Comments

How Accurate Is Your Picture of College Life?

You’re sending your student off to college for four (or maybe more) years. You worry because he is going to be on his own, and maybe you struggle (just a little) with your feelings about the empty nest.  And you wonder what life will be like for your student at school.

Parents who have experienced college life themselves, may think they know a little about what to expect. (But they often forget their experiences may be twenty years or more old. Things have changed.)  Other parents, who may not have attended college themselves, do not have their own experiences to guide their expectations.

So how do we know anything about college life? For many of us, our source is what we see and hear in the media – news stories, films, TV, and advertising.  College students – and college faculty and officials – will quickly tell you that that image is often, very often, less than accurate.  One study of first year college students found that 77% of students surveyed felt that the media over-exaggerates the excitement of college.

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January 16, 2017   No Comments