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”.

Ten Thank-yous for College Students

As parents, many of us began early to teach our children the automatic response of ”thank you” when they were given something.  Many college students on the job or internship hunt are reminded of the importance of a quick thank-you note following a job interview.  The seeds have been planted.

There is power in a thank-you.  Not only because of the message to the person being thanked, but there is power in the reminder of gratitude for what has been given.  Talk to your college student about a Thank-you Resolution for a new year or a new semester.  Help her think of people she can thank — often.  Help her think of some people she may have taken for granted or forgotten about who might appreciate a thank-you.  Both your student and you may be surprised at how many people make the list.  Your student may be surprised at how good saying ”thank-you” makes her feel.

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

Have you heard the term ”Satisfactory Academic Progress” or SAP? SAP pertains to financial aid eligibility and discussions of the policy are a result of 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.

Changes to this regulation are designed to prevent students from indefinitely continuing to receive federal aid and to ensure “program integrity.” Essentially, it is intended to prevent a school from allowing your student to continue to accumulate debt while not making adequate progress toward the finish line.

The primary change to this law 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.

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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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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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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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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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Why Your College Transfer Student Needs Your Support

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 their 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 their degree.  Your student will be most successful if they knows themselves well, understands their strengths, challenges and passions, and evaluates their 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 them to seek out these opportunities.

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Why Your College Student Needs to Do Something for Someone Right Now

Although colleges and universities have different schedules, for many college students early November is past the mid-point in the semester, but there are still a few weeks of study remaining.  Thanksgiving break is looming, but it isn’t quite here yet.  Finals are on the horizon.  Winter break still seems a long way off, but for many students the prospect of being at home for several weeks comes with its own stress.

This is a time of semester, for some students, of turning inward.  There is nothing wrong with this.  For some students, this is a time of self-examination — ”Am I studying enough?”  ”Will I have the final grades I had hoped for?”  ”What will it be like when I get back together with my high school friends?”  ”What will it be like living with my family again over break?” ”Am I in the correct major for me?”  ”Will I be able to get the courses that I want next semester?” Self-examination is almost always a good thing, and parents may want to encourage their college student to think about some of these issues.  But these questions bring stress for many students.

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