Information for the parents of college students

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Should Your Student Consider a High School Post Grad Year?

Your student is about to graduate from high school, and she’s ready to head to college in the fall.  Congratulations!

But wait! What if only part of that statement is true?

Your student may be about to graduate from high school, but that doesn’t automatically mean that she’s ready to head to college in the fall. Not all students mature and operate on the same timetable. Not all students have an immediate interest in college. More and more students and their parents are considering a postgrad or fifth year of high school to prepare for college.

What is a high school post grad year?

A postgrad year does not mean that your student simply stays in her high school a year longer.  It is not a fifth year because your student has not done well and is not ready to graduate.  A postgrad high school year is a specialized year of school for students who have already earned their high school diploma.  It is most often a year of school spent at an independent high school with a specialized curriculum designed for the experience.

Postgrad experiences have been around for a long time.  They have traditionally existed at New England prep schools for male athletes who need an extra year to improve athletically and to bolster grades.  Recently, however, more schools offer postgrad experiences, more students are applying, including females and non-athletes. According to the Boarding School Review, as many as 146 schools now offer such programs.  A few schools offer day programs as well.

A postgrad program serves as a transitional year for a student to experience living on his own, away from home.  Programs are generally designed for academically strong, motivated students who want to experience new courses, challenges and personal growth.  Programs are often competitive, and schools look for students who have demonstrated academic growth throughout their high school careers and who have demonstrated a positive trend.  The postgrad year allows these students to build on their past experiences.

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April 24, 2017   No Comments

The Path To Graduation: Will Your College Student Graduate on Time?

Your student graduated from high school and headed off to college, and you are picturing that next Commencement ceremony in another four years.  Or perhaps your student has been in college for a year or two and you see that Commencement just around the corner.  When your student walks across that stage it will be a big moment, and you are anxious for the celebration – and the last tuition bill.

But there is a possibility that your student’s college Commencement may not be four years after high school graduation.  Although four years of college is still the norm at most elite private colleges, more and more students are completing their college education on an individual timeline. According to the U.S. Department of Education National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), the percentage of students who graduate in four years is approximately 36%.  The percentage who finish in six years is 57.5%. That means that some students may not graduate at all, and many students who do graduate may take significantly longer than four years to complete their education.  Five or six years of college is now becoming the norm for many students.

Objectively, we may hear these statistics and find them moderately interesting.  However, when it is our college student who may take more than four years to complete his college education, we may become not only very interested, but alarmed.  We may have seen this coming or we may be taken by surprise.  We may understand the reasons or we may not.  We may consider the reasons sensible or we may find them ridiculous.  We may take the news in stride or we may be angry and upset.

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April 17, 2017   No Comments

Happy Anniversary! College Parent Central Has Just Turned Eight!

We try not to engage in too much self-congratulation, but we’re taking a moment to wish ourselves a Happy Anniversary!  Eight years ago, on April 1, 2009 (Yes, it was April Fools Day!), the College Parent Central website was launched with the hope that we could help parents understand and make the transition to a new style of parenting as their sons and daughters became college students.

We continue to believe, as we did eight years ago, that parents need information and guidance in order to best support their college student to succeed. We’ve been more than pleased throughout the last eight years to hear from many parents who have found that our information has, indeed, helped them transition and help their students.

Thank you to those who have supported us and shared our information with others!

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.)

Eight years later, some of the subjects of our posts may have changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined eight years ago, but the underlying principles that anchor us and drive us remain the same.

Our journey

In spite of unchanging principles, we’ve continued to evolve and grow over the last eight years.

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April 3, 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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April 1, 2017   No Comments

Boomerang Kids: When Graduation Means a Move Back Home

They’ve been called many things – the Millennial Generation, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, Digital Natives, Tightrope Generation, Generation Next, Generation Me.  Now they are earning the title of the Boomerang Generation.  If you have a recent college graduate, or a college student due to graduate in the next few years, chances are that you should be getting that bedroom or basement ready to welcome your student home again.

It may be reassuring to some parents with students moving back home, and to those students as well, to know that they are not alone.  One survey suggests that 85% of college seniors expect to move back home, at least for a time, and a 2016 UBS survey found that 63% of millennials actually do move home after graduation.

Although career prospects have improved, as more young adults graduate with high college debt, face rising rents and stricter mortgage standards, they are apparently postponing marriage and starting families and choosing instead to live at home – at least for a while.    According to a Pew Research Company analysis of recent census data, approximately 32% of 18-34 years olds live in their parents’ homes.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States has the highest percentage of young adults living at home since 1940.

So it is clear that for many graduates moving back home not only makes sense, but may be their only option.  Some may stay for a short while and others may settle in for the long haul.

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March 27, 2017   No Comments

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.

[Read more →]

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