Sweet Dreams! Is Your College Student Getting Enough of Them?

News flash! College students don’t get enough sleep!

Well, actually, this may not be a news flash for anyone. Americans overall are getting less sleep, and many of us recognize that we need more than we are getting. But college students are the group most deprived of the sleep that they need. One study reported that up to 60% of college students reported poor quality sleep, and college students today get approximately two hours less sleep a night than students in the 1980’s.

Sleep is vital to our well-being, and not getting enough can affect students’ health, moods, safety, and GPA. Many students, who may be in charge of their sleep habits for the first time in their lives (Mom isn’t telling them it’s time for bed), underestimate their need for sleep and may not realize the extent of the harmful effects of lack of sleep. As they try to balance classes, jobs, new independence and social lives, students often develop unhealthy patterns and habits.

As a college parent, you ultimately have no control over how much sleep your college student gets, and that’s appropriate. Part of the college experience is learning how to regulate your life. But just as you might talk to your student about their time management or financial budget, have a conversation with your student about sleep habits. This may be especially important if your student feels chronically tired, irritable, sleeps excessively on the weekends, or is struggling academically. Help your student understand the importance of sleep, and help them think about how to get more.

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Book Review: Beyond Tuition – Career Coaching Your College Kid

Finding a job and a career after college is a concern for nearly every college student and every college parent. Beyond Tuition: Career Coaching Your College Kid by Sharon Gilbert, is a book designed to help alleviate parents’ fears by helping them understand the career development process.

The career development process, and career development offices, have changed in recent years. Students no longer visit the ”placement office” for the first time late in their senior year to perhaps polish up a resume and read the job board. Students are now encouraged to begin working with Career Offices early in their time in college. Gilbert’s book helps parents understand the importance of these early connections, and the more that parents understand, the more that they can guide their students.

Gilbert acknowledges that parent support is integral to a student’s success and works to equip parents to guide their child throughout the process.

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Your College Student’s Health: Important Paperwork That Can Make a Difference

There are a lot of things to think about as your student heads off to college. You’ve got financial aid and tuition payments to arrange, a dorm room to furnish, travel arrangements to make, forms to complete, and, of course, you’re trying to fit everything into the car! You think about, and sometimes worry about, lots of things as your student transitions to their new life. Your student’s health may or may not be high on that list.

One thing that will help to ease your mind, and perhaps that of your student as well, is to make sure that you have both completed all of the paperwork that will matter in the event that your student is sick or injured while away at school. There are several important documents that you will both need to be thinking about — and it’s never too late. If your student is already at school and you’ve missed some of these items, discuss them with your student the next time that you talk.

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Are You College Parent, Social Media Savvy? Beyond Admissions and Beyond Hovering

girl holding cell phone

We live in the age of social media. According to some studies done by the Pew research organization, 73% of online adults use a social networking site of some kind and 42% use multiple sites. Every platform available, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram has shown increases in uses in the last year. We consume, we share, we connect.

Colleges know the importance of our online lives and use the web heavily in their admissions process. They reach out to both students and parents through avenues from websites to social media platforms to chat rooms. According to research conducted by Noel Levitz, the higher education consulting firm, some 45% of parents have looked at college websites on their mobile devices. Colleges have established profiles and pages and feeds and boards on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. More than 200 colleges have LinkedIn profiles and many others have statistics listed. Clearly, both students and parents are using social media as one method of finding the right college.

But perhaps your student has now not only found a college, but headed off to college. Are you ready to turn off social media? Probably not. Of course, you can continue to use social media platforms to keep track of what your student is doing. Much has been written about parents and their teens/young adults and use of social media. Should you friend your student on Facebook, follow his Twitter feed, connect on LinkedIn, and follow his Instagram account? That is a very personal decision and one which you and your student should discuss. It may be comforting to you and comfortable to your student, or it may feel intrusive, discomforting and TMI (too much information). Have that conversation with your student.

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Parents, Is Your Student Off to College? Here’s Some Homework for You

You’ve survived the college admissions process. You’ve survived Senior Summer. You’ve survived Move-in Day. You’ve survived the ride home after leaving your student at school. Now you’ve arrived home to the empty (or at least emptier) nest. It’s just a little bit quieter, just a little bit less messy, just a little bit — well, emptier. And suddenly you’re not sure what you should be doing.

The year before college is a busy year. There are the college fairs, the college visits, the college applications — and essays and recommendations and, of course, financial aid forms. There may be second visits, interviews, accepted student events to attend. And then there’s senior year — special events, class trips, proms, award ceremonies, graduation — with all of its surrounding festivities. And then the summer of orientations, shopping — and more shopping — and packing, and getting every last detail ready. Of course, it is your student who is going away to college, but the whole family can be swept up in the whirlwind of the year.

And then you come home from dropping your student off at school and you’re not sure what to do. That empty nest fairly echoes. So much of the last year has been focused on your student — and now she’s off on her own and the swirl of activity has ceased. One of the reasons that we, as college parents, are sometimes more involved that we ”should” be is that it is habit. It’s what we’ve done for years — and especially this past year. And it feels as though we should be doing something.

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