College Lingo for College Parents: Talk the Talk — Part 6

Every profession, activity, or area of interest has its own jargon or set of specialized vocabulary.  College is no different.  College administrators, faculty members and students develop a set of short-hand terms that can be confusing to those not familiar with them.  As a college parent, you may be surprised at how quickly your college student will pick up the appropriate lingo.

If your college student slips into ”college-speak” and you don’t understand what she is talking about — ask!  She may express impatience, but she’ll probably explain.  However, if you want to be able to at least begin to talk-the-talk, here are five terms to get you started.  Please remember that there may be some variation in the use of these terms at various institutions.

 We’ve written five earlier posts about some of the college vocabulary that might be helpful for you to know. Be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.  It’s been a while since we’ve added an installment, so here are a few more terms.

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Should My College Student Withdraw From College?

Your college student headed off to college with high hopes and aspirations.  They may have given it their best effort and something interfered, or they may not have understood what was going to be required.  Or it is possible that something totally unexpected has interrupted your student’s momentum.  Whatever the reason, it is possible that your student is now struggling and wondering what to do next.

Your student may be considering withdrawing from college — not at the end of a semester, but now, part way into a term.  You may be wondering whether they have options, and whether the choice to withdraw is the best decision.  It is not an easy question to answer.  You and your student should have some frank talk about their reasons and about the implications of their decisions.  We’d like to give you some food for thought — and for discussion.  You and your student will need to consider your student’s reasons for wanting to withdraw (or your reasons for wanting them to withdraw), some pros and some cons, and finally, some important things you’ll need to investigate and consider.

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Mid-semester: Time For Your College Student to Re-evaluate

Mid-Semester.  It’s a time of stress for college students.  It is also a time when your student can both look backward and look forward.  A lot has happened in the first half of the semester, but there is also an entire second half to either build on the successes of the first half or turn things around.

As a college parent, you may or may not know exactly what your student’s situation is.  They may or may not share their midterm grades, concerns, or behaviors with you.  This is a good time to ask some important questions and to do a lot of listening — not just to the words, but to the messages between the lines.  All of your communication skills will come in handy.

This is often a time of decisions for students.  How do I build on what I’ve learned?  How can I change direction?  Should I move on or take a break?

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Ten Hidden Connections Your Student Has on Campus

One of the characteristics that many students and their families consider when choosing a college may be the support they will receive and the connections they will make.  Colleges promote the connections between faculty and students as well as the official support services they provide — both academic and social.  As you looked at schools, you probably heard about students working closely with faculty both inside and outside of class.  You learned about clubs and activities that promoted interactions between staff and students.  All of these connections are important components of the college experience.  All of these connections will help your student succeed and thrive in college.

However, student connections and support may often come in some unlikely relationships.  As you think about your student’s experiences at college, and as you think about the people that your student interacts with every day, don’t forget some of the people with whom your student may have frequent contact — and who may be those individuals who provide a great deal of comfort and support, even if it is ”unofficial.”  Here are just a few:

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One Question You Should Be Asking Your College Student at Mid-Semester

There are a lot of things you may want to talk to your college student about at about mid-semester.  Of course, you may have been hearing lots of news and updates from your student all along.  Students and their parents are more connected today than ever before.  But as mid-semester time comes and goes, there are some touchpoints that you and your student might benefit from covering.

If your student is feeling stressed about midterm exams, you might give some reassurance.  Once exams are over, you might help your student make sense of his midterm grades.  There are some general questions you can be asking your student to help him think about whether some changes are needed to make the second half of the semester more successful.

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How Doing One Thing Might Help Your College Student

College students are feeling more stress than ever before.  Colleges are reporting higher use of counseling centers, students say they experience stress, and parents often hear it as they talk to their students.  Stress is part of the college experience for many students.  If your college student looks to you for help with general stress, feeling overwhelmed, or dealing with a specific problem, you might suggest they do just one thing.

No, there isn’t a magic bullet.  But when your student doesn’t know what to do next, and you are not sure what to tell them, suggest that they stop and take a breath and then do one thing over the next twenty-four hours to make a difference.  Just one.  Not a whole plan, not a complete turn-around, not a comprehensive solution.  Just one thing.

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Your College Student: The New Beloit Mindset List — Class of 2016

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 in the class of 2016, most of whom were born in 1994.  (You may view the entire lists, by year, at  If you sometimes wonder why you feel as though you don’t know your college-age student, read on.

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A Picture of College Parenting

For many of us, the expression that ”a picture is worth a thousand words” is very true.  An image often sticks with us and helps us to understand an idea more clearly.  Poets understand this as they use metaphors to give impact and emotion to their work.

We’d like to suggest four metaphors, or images, that we think represent some of the important principles of college parenting.  See if they have meaning or strike a chord for you as you think about your relationship with your college student and your role as a parent in the college experience.

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Book Review: Say This NOT That to Your Professor

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  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.  See our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

This book is one that we recommend that parents give to their students as they head off to college.  Although it would be a nice idea for parents to read Say This, NOT That to Your Professor as well, it is intended to give advice to students about how to make the most of their communication skills to enhance their relationships with faculty members and to enhance their chances of success.

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13 Active Ways to Be a Better Roommate

The roommate issue looms large for most entering college students.  Students and their parents worry about who their roommate will be, whether they will like each other, whether they will get along.  Most students heading off to college have never shared a bedroom with someone else.  When that bedroom is also your living room, kitchen, den and recreation room, the prospect of sharing that small space with someone else causes many students concern.

Much has been written to help students get along with roommates.  We’ve written earlier posts on how roommates are matched, helping your student prepare for living with a roommate, and even the value of some conflict with a roommate.  Much of what is written, however, focuses on what to expect from a roommate and how to react to potential problems.

We’d like to suggest a more proactive approach.  Rather than focusing on how to deal with a roommate, we’d like to suggest 13 things your student can do to make sure that they are being the best possible roommate. Rather than thinking about what to expect from a roommate, help your student think about how their behavior might be perceived.  Discussing some of these things with your student before they head to college may help them know how to take action to make their living situation better.

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