Your College Student’s Worldview – The Beloit Mindset List

As parents of traditional college age children, we know that our children live in a different world.  Intellectually, we know that the world changes – ever faster – and that our children have grown up with many different experiences than we’ve had.  Sometimes, however, we forget – or just plain don’t realize – how different that world truly is.

Each year Beloit College releases The Beloit College Mindset List. Since the list was first published in 1998, in addition to providing college professors a chuckle, it has also proved to be an eye-opening look at “the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college” that year.  The list was originated by Beloit professor Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief as a reminder to faculty members that many references used in class might be outdated, but it has become a much more comprehensive look at the worldview of current college students.

We include here, for your consideration, amusement and possible consternation, a few of the items that are true for current college students. These are taken from the last four Mindset lists. So if your student was born between 1989 and 1992, consider some of the following.  (You may view the entire lists, by year, at www.beloit.edu/mindset.)  If you sometimes wonder why you feel as though you don’t know your college-age student, read on.

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Helping Your College Student Increase Their Chances of Success

As a college parent, we want nothing more than for our college student to be successful in college.  Although that success may look different to different parents and families, important measures of success for most of us are certainly competence, grades, happiness, and a job after college.

Students are responsible for their own behavior in college.  As parents, we have raised them and prepared them for their college journey.  We continue to be involved and to support our student, but they must make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions.  Our role, as a parent, changes.  However, as the coach on the sidelines, we can do much to suggest options to our student which will help guide them toward success.  Some students may need more reminding and guiding than others, and students will make choices which will determine their path.

We’d like to suggest some choices and actions that you can encourage in your college student to help them increase their chances of a successful college experience.  Of course, there is no magic bullet, and sometimes even those students who make all of the right choices may hit rough patches, but these suggestions may help to guide your student toward success and increased confidence.  Encourage your student to consider some of the following.

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Understanding Your College Student’s Class Schedule

College is different from high school in many ways.  Both students and parents expect there to be differences, but they may be unsure of exactly what those differences are.

One of the major academic differences between students’ high school lives and their college lives has to do with the student’s schedule of classes.  Students will spend less time in class.  Typically, high school students spend approximately six or seven hours a day in class – that’s approximately 30 – 35 hours per week.  College students may spend between twelve and fifteen hours per week in class.  Because college students spend so much less time in class, they are expected to do the bulk of their academic work outside of class.  College students who are clear about the difference have a much better chance of academic success in college.

A second major change regarding a college student’s schedule is that the student has much more control over, and therefore responsibility for, their own schedule.  One very important task that each college student faces each semester is choosing their classes for the following semester.  It is exciting for students to consider the wide array of classes from which they may choose, but also intimidating to consider the implications of making the appropriate – or inappropriate choices.

Students usually plan their schedule in consultation with their Academic Advisor, but students then may make last minute changes.  Unfortunately, some students may make changes that are not in their best interest in the long run.

As parents of college students, we may feel that we should have some input.  Discussing your college student’s class choices is always a good thing. Having a conversation with your college student about their schedule may be enlightening for both of you.  It will help you to understand your student’s interests and goals, and it may help your student clarify their thinking as you talk about decisions.

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Eight Phone Numbers Your College Student Should Have in Their Cell Phone

girl holding cell phone

Our college students have their cell phones with them wherever they go.  We see them everywhere – walking across campus, at dinner, at sporting events, when visiting with friends, while studying, even (unfortunately) in class.  Many students use their cell phone, not only for communication (by voice or text), but also as their clock or watch, their calendar, their memo keeper, their entertainment,  their alarm or reminder.  Their lives are almost as portable as their phone.

One of the advantages to having a cell phone with you everywhere you go is easy access to important phone numbers.  Your student’s cell phone is probably crammed with numbers for family and friends and other personal contacts.  Here are eight numbers your new college student should have in their phone – just in case.  It may certainly make life easier in an emergency.

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Your Penny-Pinching College Student

College is expensive.  There is no way around it, and no argument about it.  Tuition and fees are high, the cost of textbooks has skyrocketed, and there are more unexpected expenses than you anticipated.  Sometimes parents pay all costs, sometimes students pay costs, and often parents and students together share the burden.  Some costs are fixed and some are flexible.  Although most parents and students have no control over the price of tuition and fees, there are some living expenses over which your student may have some control.

Hopefully, you’ve discussed costs and expenses with your college student and helped them create a budget.  Whether you will be sending your student spending money or they will be responsible for their own finances, there are some things that your student can do to keep expenses in check.  Depending on your student’s situation, they may want to include a few of these suggestions or as many as possible.  Whenever you have your financial chat with your student, you may want to help them think through some ways in which they can shave a few expenses.  Ask your student to consider implementing a few of the following suggestions.

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Helping Your College Student Stay Healthy Living in the Dorm

College life, for resident students, is communal life.  Students live together in apartments or dorms and share their music, their ideas, their belongings, their clothes, and their germs.  It is a truth of college life that many students begin to get sick just a few weeks into the semester.  They are tired, may not be eating right, and they have been living together and exposing each other to their germs.

You will not be able to prevent your student from getting sick, just as you couldn’t prevent it when they started pre-school or kindergarten.  You can, however, send them to school with a first aid kit, a comfort pack for when illness does strike, and some reminders of ways to try to fend off some illness or shorten the duration of the inevitable.

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Book Review: The Praeger Handbook for College Parents

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 lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Check out our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  This review considers The Praeger Handbook for College Parents by Helen W. Akinc.  This book serves well as a handbook of information about how college works and can be a wonderful resource for familiarizing parents with the college experience.

Perhaps two of the greatest strengths of The Praeger Handbook for College Parents are the wealth of knowledge shared regarding college policies, procedures and rationales, and its focus on the college experience as a time of learning rather than simply career preparation.

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Talk to Your Student About Preventing Theft in College

Most college students head off to college with lots of “stuff”.  Students need to furnish their rooms, take the items that they need for daily living, take study aids, clothing, recreational items, and sentimental items that may remind them of home, family and friends.  Increasingly, many of the items that students need to take to college are expensive.  Students come to college armed with cell phones, laptops, video game consoles, TVs, bikes and cars.  All of these items are enticing: potentially easily stolen, and easily sold.

When it comes to theft on campus, many incidents are crimes of opportunity or convenience. Things are there, and they are easy to get at.  Some awareness, forethought, and careful actions on the part of your college student can help decrease the chances that they will become a victim of theft.

Talk to your student before they head off to school about campus safety.  It is important to be aware of how to take care of personal safety, but they’ll also need to think about how to protect belongings from theft.  There are some relatively simple things that your student can do to help keep track of those important belongings.

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Eight Decisions You and Your College Student Should Make Before College Begins

The summer before your student heads to college is a busy time.  There may be an orientation for your student, and for you.  There are things to buy for the new dorm room.  Your student may be contacting their roommate.  There are doctor and dentist appointments to make, forms to complete, financing to finalize.  Your student may or may not be busy packing, and you may be busy worrying about why they’re not packing yet.  And through it all, your student is busy trying to say goodbye to friends, and you are trying to come to terms with the fact that they’ll be gone.

Amid all of the flurry of preparations for leaving, there are some important decisions that you and your college student should make to anticipate potential situations later on.  If you spend some time this summer agreeing on these points, you won’t be taken by surprise when inevitable issues arise later.  You’ll know that you and your student are “on the same page”, and you may prevent difficulties later.  Here are eight things to discuss with your student before they leave.

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Send Your Student to College With a “Comfort Pack”

It is, of course, inevitable that your college student will get sick while at school.  It may happen early in your student’s college career, or it may not happen for a while.  They may be very ill, or more likely, just miserable with a cold or virus circulating through the residence hall.  For many students, that first illness often occurs a few weeks into the first semester – the seasons may begin to change, students may not be getting as much sleep as they should, may not be eating as well as they should, and they have all been in closer living contact and sharing their germs.

Even if it is simply the common cold, that first illness away from home is often a difficult time for students.  This may be the first time that they will need to care for themselves.  This may be a difficult time for you, as parent, as well.  You’d like to be there to provide the medication, the chicken soup, or maybe just the TLC.  However, there’s not much that you can do if your student is miles away at school, and this is an important life-learning experience anyway.  You may feel helpless and frustrated that you can’t be there.

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