Seven Things Returning College Students Might Consider to Enhance Their Experience

There is a lot of focus on the new college student and both the student’s and parents’ transition to the world of college.  Entering college is a major life experience for both the first-year student and for his parents.  Underestimating the enormity of that shift may cause difficulties, so colleges run orientation sessions for both students and parents, authors write books for both students and parents, and colleges run special programming for first year students.

However, once students get past that first year of college they are often on their own.  Students are expected to have settled in and ”know how to play the game”, and parents are often more comfortable with the idea of their student being away and navigating the world of college.  Unfortunately, some students do experience a sophomore slump in spite of a good first year experience and in spite of parental and college efforts to prepare them for the differences and changing expectations.

We’d like to offer a list of seven things that your returning student (sophomore, junior or senior) might want to consider to give a new focus for his year and to raise the level of his college experience.

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Good Communication Can Be an Important Key to Your College Student’s Success

If you have read several of our posts here at College Parent Central, you’ve certainly seen by now that we feel that good communication is one of the important keys to many college students’ success.  That good communication must take place between the student and the college, between the parents and the college, but most importantly between the parents and the student.  Good communication is transactional and involves both talking and listening.

Because we feel that good communication is so important, we have several posts about improving or maximizing communication. There are some ways in which we can all improve our skills. We recommend that you take some time to read some of the following posts and think about both your own communication skills and those of your college student.  Is there room for improvement?

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Book Review: 25 Ways to Make College Pay Off

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 created a Resources and Tools page and there is something for everyone.

This review takes a look at Professor Bill Coplin’s book 25 Ways to Make College Pay Off. The book’s subtitle is Advice for Anxious Parents from a Professor Who’s Seen It All. One basic premise of the book, as Professor Coplin states in the preface is, ”. . . students don’t seem to know how to get the most out of their college educations.  Parents paying the freight need to provide guidance to their children on how to make the college years pay off.”  This premise is an important one, and this book gives parents much information and support for helping their students.  Parents reading the book should be especially pleased to see the ”What Parents Can Do” section at the end of each chapter.  Professor Coplin gives specific strategies for how parents can implement many of the suggestions that he makes in each chapter.  Another wonderful feature of the book is the list of specific, relevant resources at the end of each chapter.  For parents who are interested in helping their college student, this book may prove to be just a jumping off point.

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Why Your College Student Might Want to Become a Peer Tutor

Tutoring can make the difference of academic success for many students.  Having a tutor can mean that a student has a stronger grasp of the course material and may receive a better grade.  Most of us understand why a student may want to get a tutor.

However, we may wonder why a student might want to become a tutor.  Of course, some students may become a tutor for some extra income, but tutoring is time-consuming and requires hard work, preparation, and effort.  Why would your student want to become a peer tutor to help other students with their coursework?

There are actually many benefits of tutoring — for the tutor as well as for the tutee. 

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Why Peer Tutoring May Be Helpful for Your College Student

Working with a good tutor can make a tremendous difference in your college student’s success.  Most colleges offer tutoring or academic support in some form.  One commonly used form of student support is the use of a peer tutor.  Peer tutors are students who have a strength in a subject area and work with students who are having some difficulty or need support.  Occasionally, parents worry that their college student is working with another student and not with a professional tutor.  They are concerned that the tutoring help will not be sufficient.

Although professional tutoring is very valuable, and may work best for some students in some subject areas, peer tutoring also has great advantages.  As in any one-on-one tutoring situation, your student will receive individual attention and support for his academic needs.  Some peer tutors may work with a student on several subjects, or the tutor may have expertise in one particular area.

There are unique advantages of peer tutors, and parents need to be aware that peer tutoring is used by many colleges because it is effective, not because it is ”cheap labor”.  Peer tutors are usually trained, some are trained extensively.  They are not teachers with professional qualifications, they do not give grades or control curriculum, however they do have expertise in their subject area and some expertise in how to help other students succeed in that subject.

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Twelve Places on Campus Your First Year College Student Should Locate Early

One of the truths of college parenting for many of us is that we worry about our college students.  We may worry a lot, or we may worry only a little.  We worry about our students’ health and safety, their ability to make friends, to make wise decisions and choices, to learn and get decent grades, to find their way around, to have fun and to be fulfilled.  Our concern is often the reason that we hover.

One of the things that often feels overwhelming to new college students is finding their way around a new campus.  Obviously, this is even more challenging at a large university than a small college, but even a relatively small campus can feel overwhelming and strange at first.  Remind your new college student to get a good campus map- and to spend some time looking at it.  They can probably find one on line and print it out.  This will help them to feel oriented even before they arrive on campus.

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What Kinds of On-Campus Jobs Are Available for My College Student?

The reality these days is that most college students will work while they are going to school.  The cost of tuition is high — and climbing.  In some families, parents may bear all, or a majority of the costs of college, but the majority of students are expected to contribute to expenses.  Students may contribute to tuition and fees, or they may be responsible for earning their own spending money.

Most college students have summer jobs which help them to earn some of their income, but many students know that they will need to work while going to school.  If your student will be working during the school year, he will first need to decide whether to try to find a job on campus or off campus.  There are advantages on both sides.  Your student may have been offered Federal Work Study as part of his financial aid package.  If so, he will be looking for a qualifying job on campus.  Not all campus jobs qualify for work-study funding, so he should be sure to ask.

If your student decides to look for a campus job, she may feel that she will have few options.  Of course, the number of options will depend on the size of the school, but there may be more choices available than your student realizes.  Encourage her to start her search early — possibly checking listings on-line over the summer.  Campus jobs may be in high demand, and priority often goes to upperclass students.

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