Information for the parents of college students
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Posts from — June 2009

Should My College Student Consider Summer Classes?

Once the last of the final exams are finished in the spring, most students look forward to a long summer break before classes resume in the fall.  Students often spend their summer working hard at a summer job, but they enjoy having a summer free from classes, textbooks, papers, and tests.  Some students, however, may consider signing up for summer classes – either at their own college or at an institution closer to home.  There are some things for your student to consider before she makes the decision to continue classes during the summer.

Why would a student want to take summer classes?

Students opt for summer classes for a variety of reasons.

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June 30, 2009   No Comments

Students May Be Accepted To College, But For Spring Admission

Your student probably waited eagerly for that important admissions letter to arrive from his college of choice.  He hoped for an acceptance (possibly even early admission), but knew that either being waitlisted or rejected were also possibilities.  However, what he may not have expected was to be admitted – but for admission the following spring rather than in the fall.  An increasing number of schools are now considering this strategy.  What does it mean for your student?

If your student is accepted for spring admission, it means that the college has accepted her, but can’t seat her until the following spring.  The first thing that your student needs to realize is that it is admission.  If this is her first choice of school, she can pay the deposit knowing that she will have a place in the spring.  She should consider the option carefully before making a second choice out of frustration.  If this is her first choice, it may be worth the wait until spring.

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June 29, 2009   No Comments

Five More Conversation Starters For Parents and Students Before the First Year of College

In our last post, we suggested five conversations parents and students should have before the student begins college.  Here are five more questions to consider.

The process of heading off to college – both for your student and for you – is filled with expectations.  One roadblock, however, may be that your expectations and your student’s expectations may not be the same.  Using the summer months for some frank and open talk about expectations will clear the air – and possibly avoid difficult situations later when you realize that you, or she, made some assumptions.  Good communication now will also lay the foundation for continued quality communication once your student heads off.

Here are five questions or conversations you might consider having before your student leaves for school.  Don’t try to cover them all at once, but try to touch on some of these topics as you both prepare.  Not only will you learn some things about your student, but she may learn some things about you as well.

When, and how often, will your student come home to visit during the first semester?

Whether or not your student will come home to visit during the first semester may not be an issue if your student is far away from home.  But if your student’s school is close enough, do you anticipate her coming home often?  Does she plan to come home?  Some students head off to college planning to come home every weekend.  They want to see their friends, they may want some home-cooking, or they may have a weekend job at home.  However, students who are connected to their college – through friends and on-campus activities often do better.  Of course, you don’t want your student to feel as though you don’t want her to come home, but you may need to discuss the importance of her spending time on campus to establish her new life.  You may need to work to understand why she doesn’t want to come home on the weekend to visit you.  Be flexible, of course, but make a plan before your student leaves home.

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June 25, 2009   No Comments

Five Conversations Parents and College Students Should Have Before the First Year of College

The summer before your student heads of to college is an exciting, busy, and stressful time for everyone.  There’s lots to do to prepare – forms to complete, finances to consider, orientations to attend, shopping to do.  Your student may be working and is also busy trying to spend as much time with his friends – and saying goodbye.  Communication with your college student may have its wonderful moments, and may also be strained.  You feel it is your last chance to impart your wisdom, and he is increasingly anxious to be independent.

The process of heading off to college – both for your student and for you – is filled with expectations.  One roadblock, however, may be that your expectations and your student’s expectations may not be the same.  Using the summer months for some frank and open talk about expectations will clear the air – and possibly avoid difficult situations later when you realize that you, or she, made some assumptions.  Good communication now will also lay the foundation for continued quality communication once your student heads off.

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June 24, 2009   2 Comments

Colleges Are Working To Avoid Tuition Hikes By Cutting Costs

In these difficult economic times, colleges, as well as the parents and students who are paying tuition, are feeling the financial pinch.  Like the families who pay tuition, many colleges are attempting to tighten their budget in order to avoid raising tuition more than necessary.  Many colleges are also committed to maintaining, or even raising, their amount of financial aid to students.  Only 8% of colleges surveyed by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities said that they had plans to reduce their financial aid offerings.

Most colleges and universities have already looked at and instituted some of the big savings strategies also being used by the corporate world as well.  Many have looked to layoffs, halting construction projects, hiring freezes, and salary freezes.  But colleges are also looking for other ways to trim their budgets.

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June 23, 2009   No Comments

Helping Your College Student Find Support On Campus

As a college parent, you want to support your college student in any way that you can.  You talk on the phone (but hopefully not too often), you send mail (students love to find something in their mailbox), you send care packages, you listen when she shares joys or worries; but there is a limit to what you can do.  In your attempts to help your student find her increasing independence and sense of responsibility, you need to help your student find and use appropriate on-campus support systems.

Your college student may continue to turn to you for help.  Or he may feel that being grown up means that he needs to do everything for himself.  In either case, he may not be finding and taking advantage of the resources available to him on campus.  Be there for him, but help him consider who else might best help him.  Ask questions and suggest that he investigate some of the possible support available on his campus.  Here are fifteen possible sources of help.

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June 22, 2009   No Comments

College Lingo For College Parents: Talk the Talk – Part 5

We’ve written four earlier posts about some of the college vocabulary it might be helpful for you to know. Be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Here is a fifth installment.

Clery Act

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is named for Jeanne Clery, a nineteen year old freshman at Lehigh University who was raped and murdered in her residence hall in 1986. The law requires any college, either public or private, which receives federal financial aid, to keep and disclose crime statistics on and near campus. Amendments to the Clery Act passed in 2008 require institutions to include a campus emergency response plan in their reporting.  Institutions are required to publish their report in the fall of each year, and it must contain information for the prior three years.

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June 19, 2009   No Comments

Connecting With Your College Student By Phone – Part 3

This is the third part in a three part series about phone conversations with your college student. In the first post, we considered the nature of our phone conversations with our student. In the second post, we considered how your phone conversations might change as the semester progresses.  In this post, we offer some suggestions for maximizing your phone conversations with your student.

You’ve made the phone conversations with your student routine.  You’re ready to listen, and you’re prepared to listen to her college adventures and share something about life at home.  But sometimes the conversation just doesn’t flow.  How can you encourage your college student to share her thoughts with you?  Sometimes it’s all about the questions you ask – and the responses you make.

Here are five suggestions for those more awkward conversations.

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June 18, 2009   2 Comments

Connecting With Your College Student By Phone – Part 2

This is the second part in a three part series about phone conversations with your college student.  In the first post, we considered the nature of our phone conversations with our student.  In this post we consider how these conversations might change as the semester progresses.  In the final post of the series, we offer some suggestions for how to maximize our conversations with our college student..

All phone conversations with your college student will be different.  Sometimes he will have lots to tell you or ask you, and other times you will both be searching for things to say to each other.  However the phone conversations go, they are important times for sharing news, sharing feelings, making plans, and encouraging each other.  Most of these conversations will probably not be about academics.  However, there may be sometimes during the term when you will want to “check in” about how things are going in classes.  Here are some possible suggestions for conversations at various times throughout the semester.

About a week into the semester:

By now your student has been in classes for one week and has probably had at least one class meeting for each of his courses.  This is a good time to ask how he likes them and whether he has read all of the syllabi carefully.  If the college has a Drop/Add period, that deadline may be coming up soon.  This is a good time to ask whether he needs to drop or add any classes.  (Remember that he may need to maintain a minimum number of credits to be considered a full time student – important for residence life, athletics, financial aid, and possibly health insurance.)

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June 17, 2009   No Comments

Connecting With Your College Student By Phone – Part 1

This is the first post in a three part series about phone conversations with your college student. In the next post, we’ll consider how your phone conversations might change as the semester progresses. In the final post of the series, we offer some suggestions for maximizing your phone conversations with your student.

Regular phone conversations with your college student are a great way to stay in touch with what is happening in your student’s life – and for her to stay in touch with life at home. Even if you keep up with each other via e-mail, Facebook, or some other electronic medium, there is nothing quite like hearing each other’s voice.  However, just because the technology allows us instant contact, it doesn’t mean that every conversation will be satisfying.  Here are some suggestions that will help to maximize your conversations with your college student.

Make it routine.

Consider setting up a regular time for your student to phone you. Let your student phone you, rather than you calling him, so that he will choose a time when he is available for a conversation.  Reaching him on his cell phone while he is at dinner with his friends may not yield the most meaningful conversation.

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June 16, 2009   No Comments