Information for the parents of college students

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Are You Ready for the LONG Winter Break?

Right now, most college students are just hanging on through the final days or weeks of the semester.  They’re facing final papers, final projects, review sessions, and of course, final exams.  But at the end of it all will be Winter Break – a time to finally sleep, and eat, and sleep, and catch up with friends, and sleep.  Parents, are you ready for the next two or three or five or even six weeks?

Most parents and families are anxiously looking forward to having their college student home again.  But many parents may also be a bit nervous about what to expect.  If this is the first time that your student will be home for more than a few days since you dropped him off on move-in day, you may be more than a little nervous about what to expect.

Some of the keys to a great break for everyone are to anticipate what to expect, be prepared, and communicate with your student.  College Parent Central has several articles about how to make the most of this Winter Break, and we’ll share them below.  Take a few minutes to read them and to think about what you can do to be sure that you have a good break.  We’d also like to offer a few highlights to get you started.

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December 6, 2016   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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November 30, 2016   No Comments

‘Tis the Season – Holiday Gifts for Your College Student – 2016

It’s that time of year again.  Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday.  We’re thinking about family and friends and we’re thinking about gifts.  If you have a college student, or an about-to-be college student, you may be searching for some ideas for useful or fun gifts.

You know your student best, and can tap into interests and needs, but we’d like to offer some suggestions that may stimulate your imagination. We have some new suggestions for 2016, but we’ve offered some suggestions in the past.  Don’t stop with this post! Check out our earlier posts for additional suggestions – most are timeless and still good ideas.

Check out our ideas, and then let your own creativity take over!

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November 28, 2016   No Comments

College Officials Gather to Discuss College Parents

Yes, parents, colleges are talking about you.  In this age of constant communication between students and their parents, this age of increased parental involvement in many aspects of their students’ lives, and this age of growing concern over student success and persistence in college, institutions are continuing their quest to find ways to reach out to and engage the parents of college students.

This may sound strange as we hear so much about helicopter parents and snowplow parents.  Aren’t institutions trying to discourage parents, to get them to “let go?”  The answer is, “no.”  Colleges want parents to connect to the institution and to engage with the school – and with their students – in appropriate ways.  And they are realizing that parents may need help discovering how to do that.

This month, the Association of Higher Education Parent Program Professionals (AHEPPP) held its fifth annual conference in Boulder, Colorado.  Nearly 200 college personnel gathered to discuss the parent programming at their institutions.  Many of the individuals at the conference have as their sole job description working with the parents of students at their institutions.  So, parents, don’t think for a moment that your student’s institution doesn’t care about you – beyond your tuition dollars.

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November 21, 2016   No Comments

Book Review: The Gift of Failure

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.

The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey, is an important book, not only for parents of college-aged students, but to parents with younger children as well. This book highlights an essential, and often missing, element of today’s childhood – failure.  As the title suggests, allowing our children – whether they are toddlers or college students – to fail, as painful as that may be for us, can be one of the best gifts we can give them.

Lahey acknowledges that as students get older, the stakes get higher, and it becomes more difficult to watch them struggle and potentially fail at college essays, college courses, and job interviews.  The earlier the work can begin, the better.  But it is never too late.  It is difficult and sometimes frightening work for parents, but it is necessary.

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November 18, 2016   No Comments

Is Your Student “Present” at College?

Distractions.  We’re surrounded by them in today’s world.  Children, students, adults: no one is immune to the constant bombardment and the temptation to try to go in many different directions at once.  We check our phones and social media, we send and receive texts, and we multitask. (How else would we ever get anything done?)  Some of us thrive on the energy – or at least we think we do.  Others lament the intrusion and wish we could shut the world out on occasion.  But whether we like it or not, we live in a distracted society.

What’s the problem?

The distractions we live with day to day can separate us from the present moment.  As we experience these distractions more and more, we lose, or at least weaken, our ability to be present now, where we find ourselves.  And although we all experience this separation, it can be even more of a problem for our college students.

For instance, several studies have indicated some alarming statistics about students and their phones. One study suggests that students check their phones on average every 11 minutes.  Another found that students check their phones 11.43 times each day while they are in class.  Still another study found that 40% of students said they would be incapable of going more than 10 minutes without checking their phones.  So clearly students are attached to their phones, to their social media, to their texts.  And in reality, so are many of their parents.

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November 14, 2016   No Comments

What Matters for Your Student’s Career?

We want our students to have good careers when they graduate.  We’ve worked hard to get them through their early years of school and to send them to college.  We are ready for them to launch.  But are they prepared?

For the most part, the answer is yes.  Students who take their college work seriously, who take advantage of opportunities and of resources available, graduate ready for their career.  The schools that our students attend, from kindergarten through high school and then college, work to give students the education that they need.  However, students and parents alike may be surprised to learn that some of the skills that benefit students the most in their careers are not learned in the classroom.

Parents can have a lasting influence on how their students learn the key skills that will help them succeed. Some recent studies have shed light on the importance of some of these “softer” skills. We think it’s important for parents to see this information so that they recognize the value of their influence.

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November 7, 2016   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 →]

October 31, 2016   No Comments

The Delicate Balance of Support and Self-Reliance

So much of the college experience is about balance.  Students work at learning to balance social life and studying, independence and responsibility, seriousness and frivolity.  As parents, it is sometimes difficult to watch as our students practice the skill of balance – and sometimes fail.  But just as we had to finally take the training wheels off and let go of the bicycle, we need to step back and watch as our students take off.

One of the balancing acts that many students struggle with, especially at the midpoint in a semester, is the balance between self-sufficiency and relying on others.  New college students, especially, may need to learn that being independent doesn’t necessarily mean they need to do everything alone.  Knowing when to rely on themselves and when to turn to others is part of responsible decision making.

Why wouldn’t my student ask for help if he needs it?

There are many reasons why students may not seek the help they need when they need it.

  • “I didn’t realize that I needed help.”
  • “I’ve never needed help before, why would I need it now?”
  • “Things will get better if I just wait long enough.”
  • “I’ll look as though I’m dumb if I ask for help.”
  • “Isn’t it cheating if I get help?”

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October 24, 2016   1 Comment

College Parents Warned of Phone Scam – Don’t Be a Victim

The con artists are at it again.  But this time, it’s not college students who are the target, it’s their parents. This scam, a “virtual kidnapping” scam, has been around for a couple of years, with the FBI issuing warnings in January 2015,  but authorities are warning parents that it seems to be on the rise again in the past few months.  Several colleges in several states, including Arizona State University, George Mason University and the University of Texas at Arlington,  have issued warnings to parents.

As with so many scams, knowledge is power.  Being aware that this scam exists is the best first defense against becoming a victim.

In the “virtual kidnapping” scam, parents receive a phone call from a stranger who claims to have kidnapped their child.  Sometimes parents hear muffled screams or cries in the background. Someone who sounds much like their child may even get on the phone quickly, crying and begging them to pay whatever is asked.  Calls come from outside area codes, often 787 or 939 – Puerto Rican codes. The call may come from a blocked or private number.  The caller knows the child’s name and often many details as well.  These details are often gleaned from public information and/or social media sites.

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October 10, 2016   No Comments