Information for the parents of college students
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The College Parent Central Year in Review: Thirteen Favorite Articles of 2013

It’s that time of year when we can’t quite decide whether to look backwards at the year that is just ending or to look ahead at the year about to begin.  We probably need to do a little bit of both.  Looking back gives us some perspective to look ahead, and think about our goals and plans for the new year based on where we’ve come.

So before we look ahead, make plans, make resolutions we probably won’t keep, or set goals for 2014, we’d like to take a moment to look back at some of our favorite articles for 2013.  Some are College Parent Central posts, and others are a few of the articles we’ve shared in our monthly News and Views.  These are the articles that, to us, speak most about the essence of the college parent role and/or speak to those ideas and issues that most affect the way we relate to our college sons and daughters.

We invite you to take a few minutes to review these articles, and to think about how you view your role.  How have you grown into the role over the past year?  Where might you and your college student go next year?

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December 30, 2013   No Comments

College Parents: Hold That Advice!

Your student is home from college for a break.  It is your chance to catch up and touch bases about the semester.  Perhaps it hasn’t gone as well as everyone had hoped.  Perhaps your student is concerned about choosing or changing a major.  Perhaps his social life isn’t what he had hoped – or perhaps there is too much social life.  Whatever the issue might be, as college parents, we feel that we this is our chance – and probably our responsibility – to share important advice with our student.

But wait!  That might not be what your student needs most from you right now.

What your student might need most – at least for a while – is for you to be a sounding board for her.

Serving as a Sounding Board

One definition of a sounding board is a thin partition behind a podium to reflect the speaker’s sound out to the audience.  It is actually sometimes called a “tester.”  Of course, another definition is a person who listens to someone to allow the speaker to try out or rehearse an idea in order to explore it more fully, evaluate it or to measure its acceptability. [Read more →]

December 27, 2013   No Comments

College Lingo for College Parents: Talk the Talk – Part 7

It’s been a while since we posted some of the lingo for you to learn.  Please be sure to check out our earlier lists in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.  Here are a few more terms that may help you navigate the college experience.

Every profession, activity, or area of interest has its own jargon or set of specialized vocabulary.  College is no different.  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!  Please remember that there may be some variation in the use of these terms at various institutions.

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November 11, 2013   No Comments

Is Your Student a Full-Time Student ?

It is possible that your college student may be a part-time student – taking only one or two classes per term while working or doing something else.  There are many students who might benefit from entering college slowly – for either academic or financial reasons.  This is a decision that you and your student may need to make together.

However, most “traditional” college students are categorized as full-time students. This generally means that your student is registered for a minimum of 12 credit hours per traditional semester and often means that you are charged a standard tuition fee rather than a per-credit fee.  Often, this standard semester fee allows students to register for a range of credits:  full-time students must be registered for a minimum of 12 credits, but may take up to 18 or 19 credits at no additional charge.  There may be variations at institutions, depending on whether the school calculates units, credit hours, or clock hours.

Full-time status is important for several reasons.  Full time status is required for many forms of federal financial aid, for residency on campus at many institutions, for varsity athletic eligibility, and sometimes for health insurance, car insurance benefits, or tax deductions.

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November 4, 2013   No Comments

The College Student – Grandparent Connection

Grandparents are everywhere!  According to U.S. Census information, more than one in every four adults in the United States is a grandparent.  Most of those grandparents are Baby Boomers in the 45 to 64 year age range.  That means that most college students in the United States are likely to have at least one grandparent in their life.  The trends indicate that this number will continue to grow over at least the next decade and that American grandparents will be playing a central role in the lives of their grandchildren and their adult children.

The MetLife Report on American Grandparents is based on a nationwide survey of adults aged 45 or more who have grandchildren under the age of 25.  This survey highlights some information about today’s grandparents and at least some of the connections that they have with their college aged grandchildren.

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October 21, 2013   No Comments

What Are Our College Students Talking About?

Once your student heads off to college, staying in touch with his thinking and interests may be more difficult.  Yes, you may talk, e-mail, text, Skype or Facetime with your student, but often these conversations may be more of an opportunity to touch base and find out what’s happening in their lives.  We often spend less time talking about the world or local issues that may be on your student’s mind.

More issue-based conversation may or may not be something that you and your student are interested in, but one window into the some of the topics students think about comes from an informal poll taken by a communication researcher at Arizona State University.  This instructor polled other communication instructors around the nation about the “most overused speech topics” in their speech or communication classes.

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October 14, 2013   No Comments

Book Review: College Success: Advice for Parents of High School and College Students

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.

College Success: Advice for Parents of High School and College Students by Bob Roth covers a lot of ground.  We especially like the breadth of topics covered in this book as well as the explanation that college success begins early and is a developing process through both middle school and high school years.  The author recognizes that academic success has its foundation in the readiness skills that begin early – and in the family setting.

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September 19, 2013   No Comments

The Importance of the First Six Weeks of College

You’ve survived the college admissions process, orientation, move-in day and now your college freshman is securely settling in at college.  As a college parent, you are relieved, excited,  perhaps a bit sad, and apprehensive all at the same time.  Your college student is about to begin what may be the most important six weeks of his college career.

The evidence is mounting, and the information is impressive.  What happens during the first six weeks of college may be important in determining a student’s ability to persist and graduate.  Many students’ college success can be solidified or thwarted during the first six weeks of freshman year.  Several sources suggest that nearly 40% of students who begin college will not complete their education, and according to some college experts, more than half of college students who leave college do so in the first six weeks.  “A freshman’s most critical transition period occurs during the first two to six weeks.”  (Levitz & Noel, 1989)

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September 3, 2013   3 Comments

College Residence Assistant: Your Student’s Live-in Mentor

If your student is heading off to live in a college residence hall, there is a very good chance that there will be someone there just to help make dorm life go as smoothly as possible and be as meaningful as possible.  That person may be called by different names at different institutions, but may be known as a Residence Assistant, Resident Advisor, Senior Resident or other similar title.  This person is often referred to as an “RA.”

Residence Assistants are generally trained peer leaders who live in the residence halls and serve as mentors and guides for the students- answering all types of questions and conducting programming to engage their residents.  They work to build a sense of community on their floor and in their building.  RA positions are often competitive and students are sometimes paid and sometimes receive discounts on housing or meals.

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August 27, 2013   No Comments

Why Your Student Should Think “Outside of the Box” When Creating a College Schedule

One of the things that many college students, and their parents, worry about as they head off to college is creating an appropriate schedule of classes.  Although your college student will mature and experience many things while in college, academics are the main reason for attending.  Taking the right classes matters.

There are many factors that go into creating a good schedule, and your student should use the college resources when considering what to take.  At some schools, incoming first-year students are given their schedule, with no options.  Although your student may be disappointed about not making choices, this should mean that your student is assured of taking courses that he needs.

If your student has options in creating her first schedule, she will usually get some guidance from her advisor or an advising office.  She will need to consider courses for her major, general education courses required by the college, and possibly a minor as well.  She may need to make sure that she has a balance of types of courses so that she isn’t taking all lab sciences or all writing intensive courses at the same time.  Of course, she’ll also need to think about times of day that are best as well.

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August 22, 2013   No Comments