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

Location, Location, Location: Where’s Your College Student Studying?

You know your college student is having many different kinds of experiences while she is at college.  You want her to have experiences that will expand her world, increase her independence, and broaden her thinking.  But you also know that your student will be spending a significant amount of her time at college (hopefully!) just doing the work of studying.  When you visualize your student diligently studying, where do you picture her? Do you visualize her sitting in her peaceful residence hall room at her carefully organized desk?  You might be surprised to find that this may be the least desirable place for her to accomplish her work.

Reminding your student to spend enough time studying maybe one of the things that you expect to do, and your student probably expects to hear that from you.  But remember, your student needs to take charge of making her own decisions about studying.   If you want to take a slightly different approach that migh help your student do well, you might  suggest that he get creative in his thinking about where he is studying as well as how much he is studying.  Many students find that having just the right spot to settle in and get work done makes a big difference.  Recognizing that every student’s needs are different, and that every campus provides different options, of course, is important.

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September 29, 2009   No Comments

First Year Seminar: Your College Student’s First Step Into College

Not all colleges and universities offer a course called First-Year or Freshman Seminar.  But more and more colleges are offering some kind of course specifically designed to help students make the adjustment to college life and college academics.  Your college student may be registered for such a course and you may be wondering what it entails.

First Year Seminar courses are designed to enhance the success of first year students as they make the transition to college and college level work.  They are usually available only to new first year students, but occasionally they are also open to transfer students.   In recent years, as the result of many research studies, more and more colleges are focusing on the entire experience of first-year students.  There is a growing effort to help these students adjust and succeed.  The focus on the first-year experience provides a double benefit.  Students succeed, and therefore the attrition rate decreases.  Students stay at their college and colleges increase their retention rates.  It is a good outcome for everyone.

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September 27, 2009   No Comments

What to Do If Your College Student is Sick at School

 Colleges across the country have put careful plans into place to deal with students who may become sick with flu.  Check the plan put in place by your student’s school (probably on the website).  Make sure your student knows what to do if she feels that she has the flu.

As parents, we worry when our children get sick.  We worried when they were infants, we worried when they were young, and we continue to worry about our children when they become adults.  When your child is far away from home, you worry even more. It is difficult, as a parent, to hear from your college student that she is sick – and it is a difficult time for your student as well.  This may be the first time that your student is sick without having you there to care for her.  Although you may be feeling helpless, there are a few things that you can do to help your college student through this time.

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September 24, 2009   No Comments

College Family Weekend or Parents’ Weekend Provides Multiple Opportunities for College Parents

You’ve probably already visited your child’s college several times.  You may have had one or more admission visits, an orientation visit, and then you dropped him off at the beginning of the school year.  However, each time you visited, both you and your student were still outsiders at the college.  College Family Weekends offer parents an opportunity to be hosted at college by their college student.  It is an important step for your college student and for you.

Most, but not all, colleges offer a Parents’ Weekend or Family Weekend – most often scheduled in late September or early October.  Family members (often including grandparents and siblings) are invited to come to campus to visit for the weekend, or for a long weekend.  The college plans numerous activities for family members, students actually clean their rooms, at some schools families may visit classes, and families and their students spend important time getting reacquainted.

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September 22, 2009   No Comments

Should My College Student Come Home for Weekends?

When your college student first leaves for college you may be anxious to have her come home again for a visit.  You want to be able to touch bases in person, cook her favorite meal, reassure yourself that she is fine, and find out how things are going for her.  If your student attends college reasonably close to home, weekend visits home may be an option.  Can they be a bad thing?

Getting home to visit family, catch up on sleep, get a few home-cooked meals, and even get some laundry done is not a bad thing.  Occasionally, it may be just what your student needs.  If your student is feeling serious homesickness, she may need to reconnect with family and recharge.  However, there are some things you should consider before encouraging your college student to spend many weekends at home.

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September 20, 2009   5 Comments

What Do I Do If My College Student Is Homesick?

Of course, not all college students will get homesick when they go away to college.  Many students adjust well, settle in, and have a wonderful experience.  Some students may experience some homesickness, but their parents will never know about it.  It may last a few days or a few weeks, the student will adjust and move on.  But for some parents, the fear becomes reality.  Their college student is homesick, miserable, and perhaps asking to come home.  What is a parent to do?

Students may experience homesickness to varying degrees, although most probably have at least some of those feelings of longing for home.  It is helpful for parents, and students, to understand that a certain amount of homesickness is completely normal.  Students are dealing with unfamiliar situations, possible lack of routine and structure, loss of close friends, and readjustments of expectations.  Some factors may increase the likelihood that your child may experience some degree of homesickness: no previous experiences away from home, difficulty making transitions to new situations, roommate issues, leaving a boyfriend or girlfriend at home, possible concerns about family members at home, or academic difficulties.  One Dutch study, conducted in 2007, suggested that students with more involved parents tend to experience more homesickness; however, they may also have more effective coping strategies.

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September 17, 2009   No Comments

Helping Your College Student Living at Home: What Can You Do?

This is the second of two posts considering college students who live at home during the college years. Parents of these students face a unique set of issues.  In our first post, we looked at some of the reasons that students may choose to live at home, and some of the issues that might arise.  In this post, we consider some things that parents can do to help make the experience a rewarding one for everyone involved.

Recognizing that your college student living at home may have reservations about the experience and will face a unique set of issues is an important first step in helping your student make the most of the college experience.  Recognizing that your “letting go” process will be more complex with your student living at home will also help you to analyze the experience.  However, it is important that parents, and their college students, recognize that there are things that they can do to make this experience go smoothly – and ensure a rewarding four years.

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September 16, 2009   2 Comments

Helping Your College Student Living at Home: What Are the Issues?

This is the first of two posts considering college students who live at home during the college years. Parents of these students face a unique set of issues.  In this first post, we look at some of the reasons that students may choose to live at home, and some of the issues that might arise.  In our next post, we will consider some things that parents can do to help make the experience a rewarding one for everyone involved.

The college years are a time of growing independence for most college students.  When students leave home to go away to college, they learn not only what they are being taught by their professors, but they learn many life skills.  College students living away from home learn to manage their time, balance priorities, budget their money, hone their life skills, maintain relationships, and conduct the logistical necessities of their lives.

But what about students who attend college while continuing to live at home?  Will they develop the independence that their classmates living on campus do?  What about the parents of college students living at home?  How will they cope with having an emerging adult in residence at home?  How can parents help their at-home college student to gain independence while still maintaining a household in which everyone is comfortable?

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September 13, 2009   1 Comment

Should My College Student Look for a Job On-Campus or Off-Campus?

Having a job while in college is a common experience for many students.  This is the second of two posts examining some factors that students might consider as they seek college employment.  In the first post, we looked at some general, but important, questions your student might think about. In this post, we look more carefully at some of the differences between on-campus and off-campus jobs.

Once your student has decided that he needs a job and has time to commit to a job, the next decision will be whether to look for an on-campus or off-campus job.  This is a complex question.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both situations.  You can help your student explore which type of job may be best for her by considering some of the following factors:

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September 10, 2009   No Comments

Should My College Student Get a Job At School?

Having a job while in college is a common experience for many students.  This is the first of two posts examining some factors that students might consider as they seek college employment.  In this post, we look at some general, but important, questions your student might think about. In our next post, we’ll look more carefully at some of the differences between on-campus and off-campus jobs.

Many college students today have a job while they are in college.  As we all know, the costs of attending college are high.  In addition to tuition and room and board, there are extra fees, expensive textbooks, and living expenses.  Many students head off to college knowing that, in addition to their academic work – and possibly their sports or other activities – they will need to have a job.  As college parents, we can help our students think through some factors to consider as they decide what kind of job they may want – and a major question of whether to work on campus or off campus.

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September 8, 2009   No Comments