Helping Your College Student Reduce Roommate Conflict

Roommate conflict is unavoidable.  Although, as parents, we hope that our college student will get along perfectly with his college roommate, it is an unrealistic hope.  Whenever individuals live closely together, some amount of conflict is inevitable.  Actually, a little bit of conflict is not necessarily a bad thing.  Students learn important skills as they learn to handle issues with their roommates.

However, even when we realize that some degree of conflict may be inevitable, and may possibly have beneficial effects, we hope that any conflict will be minimal.  There are some things, short of giving in on everything and putting up with anything, that students can do to minimize the issues that may arise between roommates.  If this is your student’s first time sharing a room and/or living with a larger group of people in close quarters, you may increase your student’s chances of having a good experience by helping her to think through some of the issues that might come up and how she will handle them. In an earlier post, we considered some things that your student might do to prepare for life with a roommate.  In this post, we’ll look at what your student might do to reduce conflict and how to handle inevitable conflict when it occurs.  In an upcoming post, we’ll examine some actual positive benefits of dealing with some conflict.

Here are a few things that your college student might consider to reduce potential conflict.

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Teach Your College Student to Be a Packrat

As you pack the car and then move your college student into his dorm room or apartment, you may wish that he had less “stuff”.  Interestingly, when it comes time to move your student out of his dorm room or apartment, the “stuff” seems to have multiplied.  So why, then, might we suggest that you should teach your student to be more of a packrat and hold on to more things?  We are not suggesting that your student needs to hold on to everything.  Much of what your student accumulates during his college years can easily go by the wayside.  However, there are a few things that your student should be sure to save – at least until he has his diploma in hand.

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How to Help Your College Student Prepare for Living with a Roommate

One of the exciting, and sometimes terrifying, aspects of the college experience is living with a roommate for the first time.  Most soon-to-be college students are anxious about beginning their residence hall experience.  Some students have thought carefully about what the experience may be like, and others may have an extremely idealized vision of living with a new roommate.  As a college parent, there are a few things that you might do to help your student prepare for this new experience.  This may provide a wonderful opportunity for some conversation with your student as you give her some things to think about and possibly help her explore her thoughts and expectations.

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Helping Your New College Student Consider Computer Needs

Most college students head off to college these days with a computer.  Although a personal computer may not be absolutely necessary since most colleges have computer labs for student use, it is definitely a convenience to have your own computer.

There are arguments in favor of laptops and desktop computers, and your college student may need to consider which he prefers. Laptops certainly win the prize for portability, but desktops may be more secure and less expensive.  Your student should think carefully about how he plans to use his computer.  He should talk to other students who are planning to attend the school, as well as to students currently attending.  (He’s probably already chatting with them on facebook anyway.)  The college may also have an official recommendation from its technology center.

Check with the college about specific requirements and/or recommendations for computer specifications.  They know what has worked best in the past, and what they are able to support.   Consider their suggestions carefully. Some colleges may have a plan that provides a discount on computers purchased through them. Your student should also investigate whether the college supports both Mac and Windows operating systems before she makes a final choice.

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Parenting College Students: Still More Recommended Reading

This post includes a list of fourteen books of interest to parents of college students.  We’ve previously published a list of fourteen titles and then another list of twelve additional titles which you might want to check out. There are certainly even more resources available, but these lists should give parents a good start on material to support them through the college years.  All of the books have different styles and approaches, so it is important to find the books which resonate for you.

We are not necessarily endorsing these books, but we’d like to help you find material available.  You won’t want to read them all, but you might look for some titles and approaches that intrigue you.

Over the next few months, we will continue to review some of these books to provide a bit more guidance about their content and perspective.  Check our “Reviews” category to see what we’ve reviewed so far.  Happy reading!

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Send Your Student to College with a Dorm First Aid Kit

It is inevitable that sometime during the four years that your student is at college he will get hurt or sick.  Colleges have health centers to care for students who are injured or sick, and the local emergency room is available for more serious crises.  However, there will be many times through the college years when your student may just need a bit of help for minor injuries or ailments.  A good first aid kit never substitutes for a sympathetic parent, but when your student is on his own, he will be grateful if he has the necessary tools to help himself.

Put together a first aid kit to send to college with your student.  Of course, you hope she’ll never need it, but she will, and when she does, she’ll appreciate that you planned ahead.  Here are a few things to include in your student’s kit.

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Four Essentials Your Student MUST Take to College

If your student is heading off to college for the first time, both you and your student are probably focused on what she needs to take with her.  Everyone is giving her suggestions.  She’ll see lists from the college, lists from her friends, lists from major retailers (of all of their products that she needs to purchase), lists in books and lists on-line.  You’ll overspend.  She’ll overpack.

We’re not suggesting that some of the things on those lists aren’t important. Look at all of the suggestions carefully and help your student think about her lifestyle, her needs and her priorities.  But amid all of the extra long sheets, the laundry bag or basket, the microwave, fridge, and matching comforters, there are four essentials that every college student really needs to be successful.  Make sure your student heads to college with these four things and she’ll be equipped for a good start to her college career.

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How to Help Your College Student Use the College Appeal Process Effectively

Your college student may never need to appeal any decision made by his college.  He may never find himself in a situation involving a dismissal from school, late withdrawal from a class, grade change, judicial decision, or other special circumstance.  If that is the case, good for your student!  However, a few students may feel that some policy or judicial decision should be reconsidered.  Those students may need to appeal the decision to the appropriate board or committee at the college.

Is an appeal wise?

Appealing a college decision is not always the best thing for your college student.  The purpose of an appeal is usually to allow the student to explain extenuating circumstances or to provide additional information that may not have been available at the time that the decision was made.  He may be able to demonstrate that some circumstance has changed – perhaps a health situation, work situation, family situation, or even a change of focus or field of study.  It is important that you and your student remember, however, that an appeal is meant as an exception and to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances.  It is not meant as an avenue simply because the student is unhappy with the decision of the college.  An appeal may not be in the best interest of the student. If nothing has changed, taking a break or accepting the decision may be in order.

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