Holiday Gifts and Stocking Stuffers for Your College Student

We’ve offered some suggestions for holiday gifts for your college student for the past two years.  We still think they are good, timeless suggestions.  Check out our previous posts for ideas for gift books for your college student and general holiday gifts for your student.

This year, we’d like to go smaller and offer some suggestions for stocking stuffers for your student.  Obviously, not all of these suggestions will be appropriate for all students.  Think about your student’s situation, interests, and progress in her college career.  Your freshman and your college senior will need and enjoy different things.  We’re sure you’ll find something on this list to spark your imagination.  Get creative!

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Six Suggestions to Help You Talk to Your College Student On Break

The holidays are coming and college students are heading home for break.  The holidays are busy times, and students probably have plans to spend time catching up with friends and perhaps working to earn some extra cash.  However, this may also be an ideal opportunity to spend some time catching up with your student and hearing more about how the college experience is going.

Your college student may have a lot they need or want to share with you.  Of course, they may not want to talk about their semester, and you may need to do some encouraging.  But your student may have things they’d like to share — good or bad.  There are a few things that you can do to make it easier for your student to share their experiences, and also some things you can do to make sure that you are really hearing what they want or need you to hear.

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Moving In, Moving On, and Moving Out: Your College Student in Transition

College is a time of transition.  There is much discussion about the student’s transition to freshman year and to college in general.  But in many ways, college is a time of continual transition.  Your student moves into college, into and out of dorms and apartments, into (and sometimes out of) majors, and move on up the ladder of college class rank.  For some students the transition includes moving on to different colleges or to alternative paths.  Finally, students begin the transition out of college and into career.

Recognizing that this is a time of continual transition and change will help you support and encourage your student as he navigates his way through college.  We’ve included here some information about some of the transitions your student – and you – may face.

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Helping Your Student Stay on Track to Graduate in Four Years

In our last post, we suggested that one question that your student should ask every semester is ”Am I on track to graduate in four years?”  If your student is not definitively able to answer this question for himself, he should find someone who can help him find the information that he needs to be able to evaluate whether he is on track.  As a college parent, it is important that you encourage your student to ask the question and find the answer, but it is not your job to answer the question.  With your encouragement, or perhaps insistence, your student needs to take ownership of his college career.

Asking the question, ”Am I on track . . .” at least once each semester will help your student know how he is progressing.  He’ll need to consider his progress in accomplishing required credits, completing all college requirements, completing requirements for his major, maintaining a satisfactory GPA, and completing any additional curricular or extracurricular college requirements.

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The One Question Your College Student Should Ask Every Semester

Good college students recognize that asking questions — the right questions — is an important part of the learning process.  Sometimes asking just the right question, at just the right time, of just the right person, can make the difference between success and failure.  If your college student is interested in graduating from college in four years, there is an important question that he should be asking at least once every semester: ”Am I on track to graduate in four years?”

Nationally, only 37% of college students graduate in four years.  The trend is for the majority of students to take at least five years to complete their degree.  Colleges now calculate their graduation rates based on the number of students who complete their degree in six years.  So the question of being on track is an important one.

For many students, a five-year or six-year plan may make sense.  Some students know at the time that they enter college that they will need longer to complete their degree.  They may need a reduced course load, they may have full time or part time jobs or family responsibilities, they may have significant outside or extracurricular activities that take a priority.  But for those students who enter college intending and hoping to finish in four years, taking ownership of their progress is essential.

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A Five Step Plan to Help Your College Student to Salvage a Poor Semester

As many college students pass the mid-point in their semester, they begin to realize that the final results this term may not be what they had hoped for.  This is a point in the term when some students give up.  They may decide to withdraw from a class or drop out of college entirely; or they may simply drift through the rest of the term and wait for the inevitable failure or dismissal.  Some students, however, wonder whether they can salvage something from the term to build on later.

If your student is struggling at this point, and is willing to share their situation with you, you want to be able to help them value their mistakes and think about what to do — both immediately and more long term.

First, it will be important that your student decide whether or not they want to salvage anything.  Your student may not, and that may prompt a different conversation.  But if they want to try, you may need to help them think about whether it is possible and if so, what to do. Many students in this situation feel that they have lost control of what is happening in their lives.  The following plan may help them begin to take control once again.

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Time for Your College Student to Take Stock, Look Back, and Move Forward — 31 Helpful Posts for November

As November arrives and we enter the season of holidays, your college student is well past the mid-point of the semester.  If your student was a new, first-year student this fall, she is probably feeling that she is past the transition period.  If your student is not a new college student, the mid-point of another semester is one more step closer to graduation.

Now that the end of the semester may be in sight, the hard work of the semester also settles heavily on students’ shoulders.  Students may also be facing the consequences of some of the choices that they made earlier in the semester, and may need to make some decisions now about the future.  This is a good time to take stock, look back, and move forward.

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