It’s a Special Season for Parents: Graduation and Gifts!

Graduation is a special season for your student – and for you!  Whether your student is graduating from high school or from college, the event marks a milestone.  Your student is proud, you are proud, and everyone should celebrate. This is an achievement worthy of praise and of celebrating accomplishments – and the future.

For many families, graduation also means gifts, and many parents stress over finding just the right gift for this big occasion.  We’d like to share a few thoughts – and then offer some help to get your creative juices flowing as you try to think of the perfect gift.

What should you think about as you decide on a gift?

  • Of course, gifts of money are always appreciated. This is especially true if you know there is something that your student would like that might be a big expense, or something that you know your student would like to pick out himself.  Cash is always welcome.
  • As you think about a gift, think about everything that you know about your student. What does she love?  What are her interests?  What kinds of things excite her or are especially meaningful to her?  You know your student better than anyone.  Build on that knowledge to make your gift especially personal.
  • Think about the transition that your student is making. What’s next?  If your student is finishing high school, will he go on to college, living on his own, a new job, technical school?  If your student is graduating from college, is he going on to graduate school, career, a first apartment?  Find a gift that speaks to that new phase in his life.
  • Perhaps you’d like to focus on something commemorative and lasting. Something that your student will cherish and that will always show your pride in him.
  • You might like to aim for something sentimental. Perhaps there is something from childhood or a gift that represents earlier generations of the family.  You might share a piece of family jewelry or a treasured family heirloom.
  • And nothing can be more personal than a handwritten letter from you expressing your pride, your dreams for your student’s future, and your love.

Read moreIt’s a Special Season for Parents: Graduation and Gifts!


Four Year Graduation Goal? Here’s How Your Student Can Stay on Track

Good college students recognize that asking questions – the right questions – is an important part of learning.  Sometimes asking just the right question, at just the right time, of just the right person, can make the difference between success and failure.  If your college student is interested in graduating from college in four years, there is an important question that he should be asking at least once every semester: “Am I on track to graduate in four years?”

Nationally, only 37% of college students graduate in four years.  The trend is for the majority of students to take at least five years to complete their degree.  Colleges now calculate their graduation rates based on the number of students who complete their degree in six years.  So the question about being on track is an important one.

Four years isn’t for everyone

For many students, a five-year or six-year plan may make sense.  Some students know at the time that they enter college that they will need longer to complete their degree.  They may need a reduced course load, they may have full time or part time jobs or family responsibilities, they may have significant outside or extracurricular activities that take a priority.  But for those students who enter college intending to finish in four years, taking ownership of their progress is essential.

Read moreFour Year Graduation Goal? Here’s How Your Student Can Stay on Track


Happy Anniversary to Us! College Parent Central Is Nine!

Cue the balloons and confetti!  We’re celebrating our anniversary, or birthday, or blog day!  On April Fools Day 2009, we launched ourselves into the unknown and began College Parent Central.  We hoped that we might help parents as they accompanied their students on the college journey to understand more about the college experience and about their role in the process.  We thought we had a good idea, but we didn’t know what to expect.

It’s now been nine years and we’re still going.  We still believe there’s lots for parents to learn and understand in order to help their students prepare for, transition to, and succeed in college. We’ve been pleased, throughout the past nine years, to hear from so many parents who have found our information helpful. If you’ve landed on College Parent Central, and you are reading this, we hope you find what you need here, too.

We’re grateful for the many parents, educators and counselors who have shared our information with others, who have provided us with helpful feedback, and who have taught us so much over the years.

Our purpose

It is always a good idea, from time to time, to reflect on your roots.  Each time we look back to the purpose that drove us to launch College Parent Central, we reaffirm that our basic principles haven’t changed.

  • We believe that parents can be important partners in their child’s education from pre-school through college.
  • We believe that most parents want to be involved in their child’s college experience.
  • We believe that parents do have a place in their child’s college experience.
  • We believe that many parents don’t know how to be involved in their child’s college experience.
  • We believe that many parents don’t understand today’s college experience. (Those of us who attended college ourselves need to learn how the college experience has changed in the twenty-first century.)

Read moreHappy Anniversary to Us! College Parent Central Is Nine!


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 moreCollege Parent News and Views


Is Your College Student Considering Graduate School?

It may seem as though it was only yesterday that you were worrying about the college admission process and then sending your freshman off to her first year of college.  How can she be at the point that she is now considering graduate school?

Seeking a graduate degree is on the minds of many college students.  Obviously, some students are just ready to be done with school (at least for a while) and can’t wait to finish college.  Others, however, may have been inspired by a topic or field of study and are considering further study.  Some students have chosen a career that requires a graduate degree for employment or certification.

If your student is considering graduate study, be prepared to be less involved in the process this time around.  Your student is in charge.  One area where you may be most helpful in the first stages of considering graduate school is in helping your student think through whether more school is the right move.  Attending graduate school is not as automatic after college as college often is after high school.

What should your student consider in making the decision about graduate school?

Help your student think about her reasons for graduate school and the realities of that path.  Here are a few questions you can ask her to consider:

Read moreIs Your College Student Considering Graduate School?


Book Review: A High School Parent’s Guide to College Success

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 recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. See the Recommended Reading section of our Resources page for more suggestions.

A High School Parent’s Guide to College Success by Amy Baldwin and Brian Tietje should be on every parent’s reading list at the time their student starts high school.  It takes time to get a student ready for college and this book guides parents through the process.  Don’t wait until your student is ready to head to college.

In the race to college that the high school years have become, it is easy for parents to become overwhelmed and not know where to start or how to fit in.  We like that this book presents twelve essentials for parents to focus on.  No overwhelm here.  Twelve skills for parents to help their students develop.  Twelve skills that will prepare a student to start college on the right foot and then keep him headed in the right direction.

Read moreBook Review: A High School Parent’s Guide to College Success


Why College Peer Tutoring Works

Working with a good tutor can make a tremendous difference in your college student’s success. Having a tutor can mean that a student has a stronger grasp of the course material and may receive a better grade.

Most colleges offer tutoring or academic support in some form.  One commonly used form of student support is the use of a peer tutor.  Peer tutors are students who have strength in a subject area and work with students who are having some difficulty or need support.  Occasionally, parents worry that their college student is working with another student and not with a professional tutor.  They are concerned that the tutoring help will not be sufficient.

Although professional tutoring is very valuable, and can work well for many students, peer tutoring also has great advantages.  As in any one-on-one tutoring situation, your student will receive individual attention and support for his academic needs.  Some peer tutors may work with a student on several subjects, or the tutor may have expertise in one particular area.

Why Peer Tutoring May Be Helpful for Your College Student

There are unique advantages of peer tutors, and parents need to be aware that peer tutoring is used by many colleges because it is effective, not because it is “cheap labor.”  Peer tutors are usually trained; some are trained extensively.  They are not teachers with professional qualifications, they do not give grades or control curriculum, however they do have expertise in their subject area and some expertise in how to help other students succeed in that subject.

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How One Exercise Can Improve Your Communication with Your College Student (or Teen) Without Saying a Word

Kids are different.  As parents, we know this.  Some will talk your ear off and share everything going on in their lives.  Some talk a lot, but never really share what’s below the surface.  Others stay mum and it’s difficult to pry their thoughts from them.

As parents, most of us crave quality communication with our kids.  So when they don’t share, we’re frustrated.  Sometimes we beg for more information.  Sometimes we get angry.  And sometimes we just talk more.  These approaches seldom work.

We’d like to offer an exercise to improve your communication with your student – even before you open your mouth.

Yay! Uh-oh! And Lost Opportunities!

One of the first things that you can do to help you begin to improve your communication with your student actually has nothing to do with your student directly.  Spend some time in the company of others and unleash your powers of observation and analysis.

Read moreHow One Exercise Can Improve Your Communication with Your College Student (or Teen) Without Saying a Word


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 moreCollege Parent News and Views


Should My Student Participate in an Overnight Admission Visit?

Making a decision about the right college is a difficult and stressful task for many high school students.  You and your student have been gathering information about the schools on your student’s “short list.”  You’ve looked at the college website, checked ratings, talked to friends and high school counselors, looked at the catalog and informational material, and probably visited campus – perhaps more than once.

One additional way to gather some different information is for your student to spend an overnight on campus.  This is an excellent way for your student to get a closer look at student life on campus as well as to have an opportunity to experience college life and to ask students some of the questions that may not come up during a formal campus tour.

Many colleges offer campus overnight visits, either individually or as part of a larger program.  . At some schools, your student may need to be accepted first, but others may offer visits to those who plan to apply. If the Admission office hasn’t offered the opportunity, your student should ask whether the option is available.

Read moreShould My Student Participate in an Overnight Admission Visit?