College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student — and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below — and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

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The Decision to Volunteer — What to Do?

This is the second of two posts about the benefits of volunteering for college students.  In our first post, we suggested some advantages of volunteer work for your student.  In this post, we offer some suggestions about helping your student decide where and how to volunteer.

Your college student has decided to find some time in her college schedule to volunteer somewhere.  Good for her.  There are many benefits of volunteer work.

College students who choose to spend time in volunteer activities may do so for many reasons.  Some students find or believe in a particular cause and want to do all that they can to further that effort.  Other students may want to give of their time, but they are not sure what they want to do, or they are not sure what options exist.

Some colleges have an office or a designated person whose responsibility is to help students find and manage meaningful volunteer or community service opportunities.  If your student’s school has such a resource, this may be the best place for her to begin.  She may also talk to faculty members or other students (particularly upper class students) about opportunities.

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Why Your College Student Should Spend Time Volunteering

Many high school students spend time volunteering or participating in community service activities as part of their high school graduation requirements.  Those who are not required to participate by their school often participate in community service activities in order to bolster their college applications.

Volunteering, or participating in activities to help others, is always a good thing, whatever the motivation.  However, one possible outcome of this requirement is that many students, once they get to college, feel they no longer ”need” to volunteer since the school no longer requires participation and their college applications are done.  Like participation in extracurricular activities, some students see these activities as a means to an end (college admission) and may not realize many of the other benefits.

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Why Staging a Sit-In Should Be Part of Your Student’s Campus Visits

Campus visits are an essential part of the college admission and decision process.  Nothing can replace the experience of visiting a campus to experience the feeling and to help determine whether the school is a good fit for your student.  Most campus visits are similar — a presentation by admission staff, maybe a student panel, possibly an interview,  and a campus tour.  That will give your student an overall feeling for a school, but may not give the total picture.

It may be important for your student to dig a little deeper in order to get a real feel for a school.  Grabbing a snack or a meal in the dining area may help, talking to some current students (not just admission tour guides) may help, just sitting in the Student Center or on a bench on campus may help.  But during the course of your student’s college career, they may spend close to 2000 hours in class.  One important tool for judging the feel of a college is sitting in on one, or more, classes.

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Partnering With Your Student’s High School for College Success

College success.  It matters to all of us.  Colleges want students to succeed so they will stay in school and graduate.  High schools want students to succeed in college as a demonstration of their high school preparation.  And parents, well, of course we want to see our children succeed and graduate.

But although we all want the same thing for students, we don’t necessarily know how to all work together to make it happen.  Too often, we pull in separate directions, send mixed messages, or even directly oppose each other.  How then, can parents work together with their child’s high school to lay the foundation for college success?

Understand what students need

In 2014, Achieve, Inc., a nonprofit educational reform organization released compelling results of a national study of over 1,300 high school graduates.  We’ve shared some of the results of that study, Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work? in earlier posts.

Graduates, reflecting on their high school experiences after graduation wish they had known more during high school.  So how can we help students understand the value of certain experiences while they are in high school rather than only after high school? One approach to doing this is for parents and high schools to work more closely together to partner for their students’ success.

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