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 College Parent Central Year in Review – 2017

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.

For the past 5 years, we’ve taken time to share some of our reflections about the College Parent Central year just ending.  We like the tradition and so we’re taking time to look back at 2017.

We invite you to take a few minutes to reflect with us, and to think about how you view your role as college parent.  Are you just starting your journey? Have you grown into the role over the past year? Where might you and your college student go next year?

Important themes

We shared 47 articles in 2017.  We hope they spoke to issues and ideas that are important to college parents.  But although some topics change and evolve from year to year, our most popular articles haven’t changed in the five years that we have been reflecting.  Parents continue to seek information when their student is having difficulty.

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Involving Grandparents in the College Experience

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 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 to 80 million grandmothers and grandfathers, or nearly one in three adults in America, by 2020 and that American grandparents will continue to play a central role in the lives of their grandchildren and their adult children.

Financial assistance – the most obvious connection

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.

  • 63% of those surveyed said that they are giving some type of financial assistance or monetary gifts (of any kind) to their grandchildren.
  • 70% are giving less than $5000 and the median amount is $3000.
  • 26% of those surveyed are contributing to their grandchild’s education
  • 68% of those surveyed said they are not giving any financial advice or guidance to their grandchildren.
  • Of those grandparents helping with educational costs, 46% said they are contributing to an educational fund and 24% are helping fund a college education (others may be helping with preschool, elementary or high school costs).

These statistics give one important snapshot of a relationship between college students and their grandparents.  Financial assistance is clearly an important piece.  When the connection between college students and grandparents is discussed, the topic is overwhelmingly around the ways in which grandparents can best financially help their college student – how much to contribute, when to contribute, how to contribute.  But there’s more.

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Helping Your College Student Cope with Stress

College students experience a lot of stress.  As parents, some of us are acutely aware of our student’s stress levels, and to others of us it may be less obvious.  Of course, not every student experiences stress, and some students actually thrive on a certain amount of it; but many college students find that increased pressure or anxiety are part of the experience of college.

Consider some of the following information gathered about student stress as you think about your own student’s potential stress levels.  Discuss some of these findings with your student to help him realize that he, and/or his friends, may not be alone if they are experiencing anxiety.

College students experience a lot of stress – but it’s not all bad

The Associated Press and MTV conducted a survey of college students in 2009 to consider college student stress.  They surveyed over 2,200 students at 40 randomly chosen colleges throughout the United States.  Although the survey is several years old, the results have not changed much, or may be even more concerning in recent years.  Some of the findings of this College Stress and Mental Health poll are included below.

  • 85% of students feel stressed on a daily basis
  • 60% of students at some time have felt stress to the point of not being able to get work done
  • 70% of students have never considered talking to a counselor about their stress
  • 84% of students reach out to friends to help them with their stress
  • 67% of students reach out to parents for help with stress

The good news is that in spite of these statistics regarding stress levels, 74% of students reported feeling very or somewhat happy.  Clearly, not all stress is bad.

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Book Review: Your Freshman Is Off to College

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 offered some recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. See the Recommended Reading section of our Resources page for more suggestions.

There is a lot to like about Laurie Hazard and Stephanie Carter’s Your Baby Freshman Is Off to College. Written for parents as a month-by-month guide to the first year of college, the book clearly reflects the expertise and experience of the authors’ day-to-day interactions with first-year college students.

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Making the Shift from High School to College When Your Student Has Learning Differences

This is the first article by new College Parent Central contributor Lynn Abrahams.  Lynn specializes in college transition and success for students with learning differences.

When I think of the transition from parenting high school students to parenting college students, I am reminded of the Sunday when I first began to teach my son how to drive. The instant we arrived at the huge, vacant parking lot, the momentous shift occurred.  He clamored into the driver’s seat and I moved over to the passenger’s seat. All of a sudden, I knew that he had control of the car and I did not. I was terrified.

When your child first goes to college, you are no longer the conductor of his journey. You are a passenger – one with a very important role, to be sure, but no longer occupying the driver’s seat.

If your child has a diagnosis of learning differences, that shift may feel particularly challenging.

During high school, you needed to be involved in order to make sure your student got the services and accommodations they needed. The message in high school was, “be involved”. In high school, parents have access to student records and participate in the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) process.  In contrast, as soon as your child goes to college you may be hearing the opposite message.  In college, parents do not have access to student records, without a written consent from the student. In college, there are no IEP’s and it is up to the student to self-disclose to the Office for Disability Services. The message can feel like, “back off”.

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