Information for the parents of college students
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The Power of a Thank You: New Year’s Thoughts for Parents and Students

Thanksgiving is usually the time that we think a lot about giving thanks.  Unfortunately, much of the rest of the year we often let our thanks fall by the wayside – or we take for granted that others will realize we are thankful.  As we begin a new calendar year, college parents and their students might find this a good time to think about some New Year’s “thank-yous”.

Each year at this time we offer some resolutions to keep in mind for the New Year.  Of course, like so much of the world, we often lapse before too long.  But we think it is important to give thought to new beginnings at this new calendar time, but mid-point in the academic year.  Good New Year’s Resolutions are worth reviving, so we invite you to take some time to consider some of our past suggestions.

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December 27, 2012   No Comments

Help Your Student Warm Up Winter By Thinking About Summer

Mid-December officially marks the beginning of winter, and in many parts of the country the winter cold is settling in.  Summer may seem very far away right now – for both you and your college student.  While you may just want to settle in by the fire and hibernate, this may actually be a good time for your college student, or soon-to-be college student, to give some thought to those lazy, hazy days of summer.

It is often difficult to plan ahead when there is still a full semester between your student and summer, but here are eight things your student might work on now to make the summer months more meaningful.

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December 17, 2012   No Comments

Should My College Student Select a Minor?

One of the key questions that college students are often asked is, “What is your major?”

Although many students begin their college careers as Undecided or Undeclared students, all eventually decide on an area of focus – a major. Some students also decide to complete requirements for a minor – a secondary field or area of interest.  A minor requires fewer courses – sometimes as few as 4-6 courses in the area and is usually optional.

The decision of whether to add a minor in college is, of course, personal; but there are several reasons your student might want to attempt one.  Some students choose a minor because it will provide a unique combination of skills or background.  Other students may choose an area because it is something about which they are passionate.  A minor may complement a major or provide more depth or breadth.  So one student majoring in Business may choose a minor in Communication or Technology, while another majoring in Business may choose to minor in Dance or Art.

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December 14, 2012   No Comments

Does Your College Student Need a Fresh Start for Second Semester?

For many new college students, the first semester of college presents a huge learning curve – and not just inside the classroom.  The transition to college, as exciting as it may be, is stressful and difficult for many students.  Some students adjust quickly and well.  Other students may need this first semester to adapt and find their way.  Whether your student had a wonderful first semester, or struggled to find balance, the second semester often provides a new beginning and new outlook – either to improve on a poor term or to take the college experience to a new level.

Students begin the second semester of college with new courses and a semester’s experience behind them, but they may not be sure how best to make the most of this new start.  As a college parent, you may wonder whether your student will be equipped to maximize this second semester.

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December 11, 2012   No Comments

What is a “Satisfactory Academic Progress” Policy for Financial Aid?

A term that many students and parents may be hearing  recently is “Satisfactory Academic Progress” or SAP.  SAP pertains to financial aid eligibility and recent discussions of the policy are a result of new federal regulations incorporated into the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which require students to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to continue to receive federal financial aid.  This federal aid includes all Direct Student Loans, Pell Grants, Federal Work Study, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Perkins Loans and Parent PLUS Loans.

The purpose of the changes to this regulation is essentially to prevent students from indefinitely continuing to receive federal aid and to ensure program integrity.  The primary change is a no tolerance policy which no longer allows for an automatic warning period with continuation of aid.  In other words, at many institutions in the past, students who failed to meet SAP policy standards were granted an automatic grace period during which time they could work towards returning to good standing while still receiving aid.  New regulations require that students who fail to make Satisfactory Academic Progress automatically lose their aid immediately. [Read more →]

December 8, 2012   No Comments

Your College Student’s December Graduation

The “four year degree” is no longer a reality for many college students.  Five years has become closer to the national average for time necessary for students to complete a bachelor’s degree.  There are many factors that can contribute to extra time needed, and for some students the time frame is much more realistic. However, there are also a growing number of students who attempt to complete their degree in less than the traditional four years.  Some of these students who take either fewer or more than four years may be looking at a December graduation from college.

The decision to take extra time for a degree or to attempt to finish early is a very personal one and each student’s motivation is different.  Some students are unhappy with their college experience and anxious to be finished.  Other students are simply impatient to move on in their lives or hope to save on tuition costs.  Other students find that the pace of adding an extra semester makes the entire college experience more manageable.  Still other students find that they have no choice but to add time because of a poor semester or possible change of major or direction.

Whatever your student’s reasons for considering a December graduation, there are some factors he should investigate.  For some students, December is the perfect time to complete college.  For other students, waiting an additional semester may be the best course of action.

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December 3, 2012   No Comments

Holiday Gift Ideas for College Students – 2012

Whether you’re anxious to get out to the stores to shop or plan to shop online this year, we’ve got some suggestions for your college student or soon-to-be college student.  We hope you find these suggestions fun and that they help you start to do some of your own creative thinking.

We’ve offered some suggestions in previous years as well.  Be sure to check out these additional recommendations.

You might also find the following useful:

Here are some suggestions for your college student for the 2012 holiday season.

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November 26, 2012   2 Comments

The Advantages of a Phone Conversation With Your College Student

According to a study conducted by researchers at Ball State University, 99.8% of college students own cell phones and the number of smartphones is increasing.  That’s a lot of phones.  But the majority of students use their phones, not for phone calls, but for text messaging.  94% of students say they text every day while only 73% say they make phone calls every day.  According to another study, conducted by the Pew Foundation, 18-29 years olds text an average of 109.5 times per day, or more than 3200 texts per month.  But college students are not entirely alone.  The use of text messaging among 45-54 year olds has increased by 75% and 31% of adults prefer texts to phone calls.

So cell phones are everywhere – and they are being used for texting more than for phone calls.  Texting certainly has many advantages in many situations.  Texting is quick – no need for niceties, texting can be thoughtful because there is time to think and edit before replying, texting is practical and transactional, texting can wait for a convenient time and doesn’t interrupt anyone unless that person chooses to read it.

So why, then, should you bother to call your college student?

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November 21, 2012   No Comments

Book Review: College Bound and Gagged

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 offered some 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.

In this review we’re taking a look at the book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind by Nancy Berk.  This book manages to find the combination of a lighthearted look at the college process and serious advice that will make the process more manageable.

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November 17, 2012   No Comments

Why You Need to Support Your College Transfer Student

According to both the Department of Education and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, nearly 60% of college students will start and end their college careers at different schools.  That is a lot of transfer students.  If your student is one of these transfer students, he may need your support more than ever.

Some college students have no choice but to transfer.  They attend a 2-year institution and then move on to complete their degree at another school.  Other students make the decision to transfer to another school on their own.  Your transfer student is making another transition and is, in some ways, much like a new first-year student only wiser.  Your transfer student has learned something from his experience in college and can take advantage of that knowledge while still experiencing a clean slate at a new school.

The college transfer process may not be easy.  It takes time and energy, requires adjustments, requires understanding of the transfer process and may require extra time from your student to complete her degree.  Your student will be most successful if she knows herself well, understands her strengths, challenges and passions, and evaluates her reasons for the transfer.  According to the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement, transfer students may be less “engaged” in high impact activities such as study abroad, internships, research, or capstone experiences, so your student may need you to remind her to seek out these opportunities.

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November 13, 2012   2 Comments