Information for the parents of college students
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Posts from — January 2011

What Might Jeopardize My College Student’s Financial Aid?

College is expensive, there’s no argument there.  Many families rely on financial aid to make college a possibility.  For most families, that financial aid package contains a combination of scholarships, grants, loans, and possible work-study for their student.  So you’ve received your financial aid package (which never seems enough, but it helps) and your student has headed off to college.  You’re all set.  Or are you?

Although there is no guarantee that the amount of financial aid that your student is offered for freshman year will be maintained for all four years, most colleges do honor and continue their offering unless family circumstances change.  Most families can count on that level of aid continuing for their student’s four years at college.  If your student needs more than four years to complete his degree, you should check with the school about their policies regarding fifth year financial aid.

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January 31, 2011   No Comments

Talking to Your College Student About Stress

In our last post, we considered some characteristics and causes of college student stress.  In this post, we continue the examination of student stress by considering some things that parents might discuss with their student who is experiencing stress.

As parents, we want to help our students have the best college experience possible.  We want to protect them from harmful things and keep them healthy.  As college parents, some of the difficulty that we experience is knowing that we cannot always “make things better”.  In our role as coaches rather than caretakers, we are sometimes limited to offering suggestions to our students and then letting them take control of their lives.  This may be especially true when we sense that our student is experiencing a difficult time physically or emotionally.

As college parents, we must continue to trust the parental radar that may indicate when our student’s stress is more than the normal everyday stress of dealing with college life.  If you have an indication that your student is having extreme emotional difficulty, suggest immediately that your student speak to someone at school.  Most schools have counselors, psychologists, or other mental health professionals who are ready to help and experienced in college student issues.  If you fear for your student’s well being, contact someone at school.  They may not be able to share information with you, but they can check on your student’s well being.

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January 28, 2011   No Comments

Is Your College Student Stressed? Probably.

This is the first of two posts dealing with college students and stress.  In this post we will consider the types of college student stress and some possible causes.  In our next post, we offer parents some suggestions to help their student deal with the stress they may encounter.

College students experience a lot of stress.  As parents, some of us are acutely aware of our student’s stress levels, and to others of us it may be less obvious.  Of course, not every student experiences stress, and some students actually thrive on a certain amount of stress; but many college students find that increased pressure or anxiety are part of the experience of college.  If you are not sure how your student feels about his stress level, or whether or not he feels that he is experiencing stress, consider some of the following information gathered about student stress.  You may want to discuss some of these findings with your student to help him realize that he, and/or his friends, may not be alone.

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January 25, 2011   1 Comment

Reading List: When Your College Student Graduates

Congratulations!  Your college student is about to graduate, or perhaps has graduated from college.  He is ready to take on the world!  But, as we all know, that doesn’t mean that your job is done.  You’ve done your work as a college parent, but now a different, and in some ways even more delicate form of parenting begins.  Your student may have a job and be out on his own.  He may have moved on to graduate school.  He may be returning to your nest for a while.  Current research and theory suggest that students who graduate from college are part of that group now being identified as “emerging adults” – certainly not children or adolescents, but yet not quite adults yet.  As a parent of an emerging adult, you now have a new role.

This post includes a list of nine books which may be of interest to parents of college graduates.  The list is not exhaustive, there are certainly even more resources available, but this list should give parents a good start on material to support them through this interesting time.  All of the books have different styles and approaches, so it is important to find the books which resonate for you.

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January 20, 2011   No Comments

Encouraging Your Student to Exercise in College

Parents are the encouragers.  We encourage our college students to study, to make friends, to get involved in activities at school, to get to know their professors.  Consider adding to your list encouraging your college student to get enough exercise.  According to a study done by researchers at Ohio State, as many as 52% of college students do not exercise.  The study also found that students differ in their response to social support for exercise, with women responding most to support of family and men responding more to support from friends.  However, whether your student is a male or female, consider asking about how much exercise he or she may be getting.

There are many reasons why students may not get enough exercise in college.  Although it is possible that students are spending too much time studying to fit exercise into their schedule, it is more likely a combination of many activities that crowd their schedule.  Students are spending time studying, working on or off campus, socializing with friends, and participating in campus activities.  They may have erratic schedules.  They may be overreacting to their dislike of high school gym class and viewing formal exercise as being back in the high school gym.  For some students, it is possible that friends provide a disincentive by viewing exercise as unimportant or “uncool”.  Many students who were active in high school – either participating in sports or walking to and from school and/or jobs, may not realize how much less exercise they are getting now.

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January 17, 2011   1 Comment

Helping Your College Student Jump Start the Second Semester

One of the advantages of the college yearly cycle at most schools is that there are two opportunities each year for a new beginning.  September (or late August) and January mark the beginnings of new terms or semesters.  Each new semester is an opportunity to reinvigorate students and an opportunity to make some changes or start with a clean slate.

Last January, we offered some suggestions for ways in which your college student might approach this fresh start.  We encourage you to read last year’s post, 9 Ways to Help Your College Student Get a Fresh Start for Second Semester and to share some of the thoughts with your student.  In addition, we’d like to offer here some suggestions of things that your college student can do immediately at the beginning of the new semester to get a head start and to make the most of this new beginning.

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January 12, 2011   No Comments

What is Add/Drop or Course Shopping Period?

If your college student tells you that she is “course shopping”, you may wonder just what she is doing.  If your student lets you know that he is dropping a course, you may worry that he won’t be taking enough credits.  If your student tells you that she is making an enrollment change, you might wonder what kind of change she is indicating.  If all of this happens in the first two or three weeks of a new semester, it is part of the normal movement that often happens in courses as a new term begins.  It may be helpful, as a college parent, for you to understand the Add/Drop or Enrollment Change period.

Most colleges have a period at the beginning of each semester during which students can drop courses from their schedule and/or add new courses to their schedule (if space is available) without penalty.  There is no financial cost, and courses dropped will not appear on the student’s transcript; they simply go away.  The length of this period will depend on the policies of the institution, but generally may be anywhere from one to three weeks.  Sometimes students may have a slightly longer period to drop courses than to add courses.  Again, depending on the procedures of the institution, courses may be added or dropped online, or students may need to obtain signatures of instructors and/or their advisor to make a change.

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January 10, 2011   1 Comment

Helping Your Student With Goal Setting – and Action Plans

There’s a quote that’s attributed to Yogi Berra that says, “You’ve got to be careful because if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else.” In true Yogi Berra fashion, his seemingly simplistic quote may contain some important wisdom.

For college students, setting goals and working toward them may be a particularly difficult task.  Some students may be very career oriented and know exactly what they want in life, while others are undecided about their major and have not yet found their direction.  Yet even those students with clear long-term goals may have difficulty defining the shorter term goals that motivate them on a daily basis.  Even more perplexing for many students is the task of separating goals from the action plans needed to reach those goals.

Both long-term and short-term goals are important for college students.  Having clear goals will help your college student stay motivated, prioritize time and energy, manage his time, see the bigger picture of his college experience, focus on important things, and take pride and ownership in his experiences.  Establishing good, clear goals, however, is a difficult task.  It requires clarity of thinking and often a great deal of self-reflection.  You may need to help your college student think about and identify his goals.  Here are a few things to help your student think about as he considers some goals for his college experience – or perhaps just his next semester.

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January 7, 2011   3 Comments

Roundup of Helpful Posts for January

January always brings with it potential resolutions and the hope for a fresh start in many areas of our lives.  For college students and their parents, January marks the beginning of a new semester and all that it promises, as well as the start of a new year.  For students who began their college career in the fall, the return to college for a second semester marks an opportunity to put into place important lessons learned during that sometimes tumultuous first semester.  For students nearing the end of their college career, the new beginning of the year also marks the beginning of a transition to a new post-college phase.  For parents, new beginnings for students may mean important new beginnings on parenting phases as well.

Last January we did a roundup of posts that may be helpful to both you and your student at this point of new beginnings and fresh starts.  You may view our roundup from last year here.  It contains many helpful articles.  This post contains a list of posts we’ve written over the past year that may be helpful at this point in the calendar.

If you haven’t already done so, we’d recommend also reviewing our roundup for December and maybe even November.  This is a good time to take stock and look back, as well as move forward.

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January 3, 2011   No Comments