Information for the parents of college students
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Posts from — March 2010

There’s an Honor Society for Your First Year College Student

There are many opportunities for college students to be honored and recognized for their outstanding academic work as they approach senior year and graduation.  There are individual college honor societies as well as national honor societies for most majors.  However, if you have a first year college student, those recognition opportunities may seem a long way off.  There is at least one national honor society specifically for first year students – Alpha Lambda Delta.

Not every college or university has a chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta, but there are chapters at over 260 schools around the country.  If the school has a chapter, students are invited to join the honor society if they have achieved a GPA (grade point average) of at least 3.5 (on a 4 point scale) and are in the top 20% of their class during their first term or year of higher education. The honor society inducts approximately 25,000-29,000 students nationally each year.  Some chapters may do little beyond an initiation ceremony, and some chapters may be very active, holding meetings and conducting service projects.  This choice is up to the individual school.

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March 28, 2010   No Comments

Eight Benefits of Taking Difficult Courses in College

As parents, we want the best for our children.  We want them to succeed.  When our children become college students, the definition of success is sometimes more elusive.  We want our students to receive good grades.  We want our students to feel good about themselves.  We want our students to make friends and have a fulfilling social life.  We want our students to be able to get a job after graduation.

It may seem as though taking difficult or hard courses might not be the best choice for your student.  Hard courses take a lot of time.  Hard courses can be frustrating.  Hard courses may not boost your student’s GPA.  But there are some compelling reasons why taking some of those more difficult courses may benefit your student in many important ways.

Of course, your student needs to needs to keep his schedule in balance and needs to keep everything in perspective. Taking all difficult courses, or all easy courses, does not make a balanced schedule.  And one student’s definition of difficult is another student’s easy course.  Knowing his own strengths and learning style is helpful.  But with all of this in mind, here are eight reasons why a few difficult courses can benefit your student.

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March 21, 2010   1 Comment

Should My College Student Consider a “Learning Community”?

Has your college student told you that she is signing up for a Learning Community at college?  Perhaps you’re confused.  Isn’t college just one big learning community?  The answer is yes – and no.  Of course, in one sense when you go to college you join one big learning community.  College is about learning, after all.  But a “Learning Community” as your college student is using the term, is more specialized.

What is a Learning Community?

Not all colleges or universities have Learning Communities.  And Learning Communities may look very different at different institutions.  Essentially, a Learning Community often refers to a situation in which the same students are registered for two or more courses that are, in some way, linked.  This linkage may be very loose, with little or no coordination between instructors, or it may be quite extended, with instructors teaching parallel units or even occasionally changing or swapping classes.  Sometimes, linked courses may deliberately be scheduled back-to-back to facilitate extended assignments.

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March 17, 2010   No Comments

Should My College Student Live Off Campus?

For many college parents, the moment when your college student comes to you and says that he wants to move off campus is a nervous moment.  For other college parents, the moment comes as a natural next step.  For still others, the move off campus may actually be a relief.  The decision of whether or not to live off campus rather than in a campus residence hall is a big decision, and a very individual one.

The time when your college student decides to live off campus, whether that moment comes in the first year of college or in senior year, is another moment when you, as a parent, are confronted with, and reminded of, your student’s growing independence. You may feel that the decision is the right one for your student, or you may feel that your student is not yet ready for the increased responsibility.  Your job as a parent is to help your student think through the realities and consequences of this decision, and to ask the right questions.  Help your student explore the advantages and disadvantages of this move.

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March 14, 2010   1 Comment

Ten Wise Decisions Your College Student Can Make to Improve His GPA

If your college student is struggling academically, she (and you) may be wondering how to improve her situation.  You are probably encouraging her to do everything that she can to do better.  Most students who are in difficulty – perhaps even on academic warning or academic probation – want to do better, but many do not know what to do. They say they’ll work harder, but they don’t necessarily know how to work smarter.  Other students simply make the wrong decisions in an attempt to improve their situation.

Talk to your student about her difficulty.  Help her try to honestly analyze what has caused the problem. (This may not be an easy process.)  As she begins to think about how to address her situation, encourage her to avoid many common mistakes by considering some of the following ten wise decisions to improve her GPA.

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March 9, 2010   2 Comments

Should My College Student Consider Retaking a Course?

If your college student has failed a course, or has done poorly in a course, he may have a question about whether or not he should retake the course.  This is an individual decision and will depend on your student’s circumstances as well as his institution’s policies. Some schools may not allow a student to retake a course, some may only allow a student to retake a course in which he has received an F, and some schools may allow a student to retake any course to improve the grade. The best thing would be for your student to discuss the option with his academic advisor.

However, there are some general things that your student might think about before he meets with his advisor.  There are some compelling reasons to retake a course, and there are a few reasons why it may not be the best decision for your student.

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March 4, 2010   No Comments

College Acceptance – or Rejection – Letters: Ten Ways Parents Can Help Students Cope

The wait is over.  The envelope may be fat, or thin, or the news may have come via e-mail.  However it has arrived, your high school student has received word from his chosen colleges about whether he has been accepted, waitlisted, or rejected.  It is a defining moment for most students.

This may also be a defining moment for you as a parent as well.  You will need to think about how you react to any news, and how you support your student no matter what that news may be.  Your responses will help set the tone for your student.  Your reactions will send important messages to your student.  If the news is good, you’ll want to celebrate with him.  If the news is not what he had hoped for, you’ll need to help your student deal with his disappointment.

Giving thought in advance to how you will respond may help you to be prepared for any eventuality.  Here are ten suggestions of things to consider as you, as a parent, confront the college acceptance – or rejection letters.

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March 3, 2010   1 Comment