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

Be Prepared For the “Meltdown” Phone Call From Your College Freshman

It may not be inevitable, but it is common and it is normal.  It’s two weeks into your college freshman’s first semester, (or three weeks, or one week, or five weeks) and you get the phone call.  It may be three o’clock in the afternoon, but more likely it is midnight.  Your student is miserable.  He hates school, he is overwhelmed academically, he has no friends, he hates the food, he’s ready to come home.  As a parent, you panic.  This was all a mistake, he should have gone somewhere else, or stayed home, or commuted to a local school.  You are ready to leave home immediately and go to school to collect him and bring him home.  At the very least, you are up half of the night worrying about him.

But wait, you are not alone!  Understanding that this phone call may be a normal part of the adjustment to college for many freshmen may help.  Being prepared for the situation, while hoping that it never arises, will help.  Here are some suggestions for what to do if you get that phone call from your miserable college freshman.

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August 30, 2009   3 Comments

Are There Secrets to College Success?

If there were absolute, no fail secrets to college success that worked for every student, every student would know them and follow them and be successful.  The reality is that there are no sure-fire secrets that work for every student.  Each student is an individual with unique strengths and weaknesses, coming from a unique background and placed in a unique situation.

However, there are some tried and true tips that help most students.  We’d like to offer our three favorite tips.  We hope you’ll pass them on to your college student.  We welcome you to share your responses and suggestions.

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August 27, 2009   1 Comment

Dual Registration May Give High School Students a Head Start on College

In two earlier posts, we discussed possible timelines for a college education.  Many students currently find that they need more than the traditional four years to successfully complete their college degree.  Other students may attempt to complete their college education in less than four years in order to save on tuition fees or to get into the workplace sooner.  Each student’s needs, motivation, abilities and financial situation are different.

One path that some students consider, in order to speed their college experience, is dual registration.  Dual registration involves high school students enrolling in college courses for credit at the same time that they are completing their high school work. They receive credit for the courses at both the high school and college level. It is sometimes called dual credit, concurrent enrollment, dual enrollment or joint enrollment.  Dual registration is not for everyone – in fact, a relatively small number of high school students attempt it – but for highly motivated and talented students, or students with particularly focused interests, it may be just the right thing to engage them during their final year of high school and to allow them to begin working on their college degree while still in high school.  This may allow them to save time and money when they enter college.

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August 25, 2009   No Comments

Two Habits That Will Make Your College Student Stop Listening To You

As a college parent, you experience a changing relationship with your college student once she heads off to college.  During her growing years, you have functioned as caretaker, worrying and working to make sure that all has gone as well as possible in many areas of her life.  Once your student goes to college, you will have less contact with her everyday life.  This doesn’t mean that you will necessarily have less communication with her.  Conversations change from “Where are you going?”, “When will you be home?” and “You need to pick up your shoes,” to more interesting and potentially more meaningful topics.

 Most of us value our conversations and discussions with our college students.  We want to know how their lives are unfolding, what they are thinking and feeling, and we want to share our thoughts with them.  Chances are that our students want the same thing.  However, even with our best of intentions, there are two conversational habits which are what Rebecca Shafir in her book The Zen of Listening calls “listening stoppers”. We probably don’t even realize that we are doing these things.   

 Take some time to consider whether you might be guilty of either of these habits.

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August 23, 2009   1 Comment

Affirming “Helicopter Parents”: How To Hover Constructively

This is the third of three posts that consider the concept of college helicopter parents.  The concept is certainly not new, but it warrants continual examination – and sometimes redefinition.  In our first post, we looked at the definition of helicopter parents, as well as some of the motivation behind parental hovering.  In our second post, we examined who helicopter parents are and how they operate, and in this post, we consider the consequences of helicoptering and suggest some possible ways in which parents might hover productively.

 Helicopter parents, (those parents who hover closely over their children, ready to swoop in at a moment’s notice to rescue the student or attack the enemy) have caused colleges to express concern about parental involvement in college students’ lives.  Many colleges clearly send messages to parents to “back off” or “stay away”.  In most instances, it doesn’t work.  Parents continue to be closely involved in their students’ lives because they feel that they are needed to help the student be successful.  Many parents may not fully understand the consequences of excessive involvement or hovering.

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August 20, 2009   No Comments

Affirming “Helicopter Parents”: A Look in the Mirror

This is the second of three posts that consider the concept of college helicopter parents.  The concept is certainly not new, but it warrants continual examination – and sometimes redefinition.  In our first post, we looked at the definition of helicopter parents, as well as some of the motivation behind parental hovering.  In this post, we will examine who helicopter parents are and how they operate, and in our final post, we will consider the consequences of helicoptering and suggest some possible ways in which parents might hover productively.

 Who are today’s helicopter parents?

 Today’s helicopter parents are the baby boomers who have programmed and protected their children since they were born.  They are parents who have been involved in every aspect of their children’s activities.  Like parents of all generations, they want the best for their children, but they believe that achieving that best requires direct parental involvement.

There are more than a few helicopter parents.  According to a recent National Survey of Student Engagement, which surveyed approximately 10,000 students at 24 colleges in the United States, forty percent of freshmen say a parent has intervened to solve a problem for them.  The majority of these students are not unhappy to have their parents involved.

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August 18, 2009   No Comments

Affirming “Helicopter Parents”: Redefining the Title

This is the first of three posts that consider the concept of college helicopter parents.  The concept is certainly not new, but it warrants continual examination – and sometimes redefinition.  In this post, we look at the definition of helicopter parents, as well as some of the motivation behind parental hovering.  In our next post, we will examine who helicopter parents are and how they operate, and in our final post, we will consider the consequences of helicoptering and suggest some possible ways in which parents might hover productively.

 Helicopter parents have a poor reputation.  Actually, that is probably a polite way of putting it.  In most of the higher education world, when the term “helicopter parents” is used, it is not used kindly.  Even parents who engage in “helicoptering” don’t like to identify themselves as such, “I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, but . . . ”  The truth is that many parents do hover, but some do it better than others.  The concept itself isn’t necessarily bad, but the extremists have given it a bad name.  Perhaps what needs to happen is that more parents need to redefine what it means to be a helicopter parent and learn to do their hovering productively.

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August 16, 2009   2 Comments

What Parents Can Do To Support Their College Student Studying Abroad

This is the third of a series of three posts about college students and studying abroad.  In the first post we looked at some of the reasons why a study abroad program might make sense for your college student.  In the second post, we considered how to help your student prepare to go abroad, and in this final post we look at what to do while he is away.

Your college student has headed off confidently (or perhaps with a bit of trepidation) on her study abroad experience.  You are proud of her, excited for her, and perhaps, a bit concerned for her.  You know that the experience is important and wonderful for her, but you are a parent and you worry.  Here are a few suggestions of things that you can do to help ease the transition – for her – and for you.

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August 13, 2009   No Comments

Helping Your College Student Prepare To Study Abroad

This is the second of a series of three posts about college students and studying abroad.  In the first post we looked at some of the reasons why a study abroad program might make sense for your college student.  In this post, we consider how to help your student prepare to go abroad, and in the final post we’ll look at what to do while he is away.

Now that your student has decided to study abroad and has chosen an appropriate program, the real preparation begins.  There is much to do to get ready for this new and exciting experience.  As the college parent, your role will be largely supportive, but your involvement will be crucial.  Working with your student to ensure the best experience possible can be rewarding for both of you.  Remember, though, that your student needs to be in charge of preparations.  This is good practice for the independence that he will need while he is away.

Here are some suggestions of ways in which you might be helpful.

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August 11, 2009   No Comments

Understanding Why Your Son Or Daughter Wants to Study Abroad

This is the first of a series of three posts about college students and studying abroad.  In this post we’ll look at some of the reasons that a study abroad program might make sense for your college student.  In the following two posts, we’ll consider how to help your student prepare to go abroad, and what to do while he is away.

We live today in a global society.  Worldwide knowledge and experiences are becoming expected in the workplace.  Many students consider studying abroad and look forward to the opportunity to spend some time in a foreign country during their college years.  This experience may take the form of a summer program, an organized college trip, or a semester or year abroad.  For many college parents, understanding their student’s desire to spend a year far away in another country seems obvious, while for others it make take some work.

As a parent, you may understand completely why your student wants to study abroad – in fact you may be envious of the experience.  Your student may have talked about and planned for this experience even prior to attending college.  On the other hand, perhaps you hadn’t considered this, and you may be wondering why your student, who worked so hard to transition to college and settle in, would want to uproot, even for a semester, to do it all again.  The more that you work to understand your student’s motivation for studying abroad, the more you will be able to discuss his options with him.

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August 9, 2009   No Comments