Why Midterm Is Decision Time for Your Student

For many students the midpoint of the semester feels like a shock. How can the semester be half over already? How can I still have so much work to do? Is that really what my grade is at this point of the semester?  It feels as though we just got started and it’s time for midterm exams!

This midterm surprise can be a good thing. For many students it’s a wake-up call or a reality check. This is where you are. This is what’s left. This is what you need to do.

For other students, midterm can be an affirmation that they’re on the right track. They need to continue to do what they’ve been doing.

Still others may realize that a little tweaking will make a difference by the end of the semester. They’re headed in the right direction but need a little fine tuning.

Information gathering

The first thing your student needs to do at midterm is gather as much information as possible. Midterm exams can be a valuable source of that information. An exam can give your student feedback about how well they understand the material.

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Why College Parenting Begins in High School

Thinking about and preparing for college begin earlier and earlier for most students. There are countless books, websites, programs, lectures and consulting services offered to help students as they begin their college preparation and admission journey. These services help students decide what high school classes to take, how to prepare for the SAT or ACT, how to select colleges and conduct college visits, how to finance an education and acquire loans. There are lists and lists and lists available telling them what to bring to college and how to furnish the ultimate dorm room.

The journey to becoming a college parent can be more mysterious. Many of us guide and support our student through the admission process, and we assume we’ll become a college parent once we drop our student off at Move-in Day. But if we wait until our student begins college to begin “college parenting,” we’re late to the game.

It’s a natural misunderstanding. Much of the focus during high school is on getting into college. However, your focus on “college parenting” includes helping your student focus on preparing to thrive in college in addition to getting into college.

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Book Review – Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel T. Willingham

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 lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

Daniel T. Willingham’s book Outsmart Your Brain: Why Learning Is Hard and How You Can Make It Easy is a book that will give high school students a boost and should be packed in every college student’s luggage as they head off to school. It’s not a book your student will sit down and read from cover to cover, and it isn’t meant to be. Your student may even scoff at it and assume they don’t need it. But as they settle into the work of college, as they begin to hit the inevitable bumps in the academic road, if the book is there waiting for them, they will have an approachable resource that can make the difference between failure and success.

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Rising College Sophomore? Here’s What You Need to Discuss with Your Student

It’s summer, and your college student now has a year of college behind them. You may be breathing a sigh of relief remembering how busy you were at this time last year trying to help your student get ready to head off for the first time. There was so much to do last year – and so much stress for everyone!

This year it feels as though everyone can finally relax. Your student knows what to expect when they go back to school in the fall, and it may feel as though you’re not needed this year.

You’re not quite off the hook yet – and neither is your student. Actually, there are quite a few things that your student could be thinking about and doing this summer to help make the second year of college begin smoothly – and to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump.”

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Helping Your College Student Control the Overwhelm

We’re all stressed these days and students are no different. They’re stressed and anxious and struggling with their mental health now more than ever. It’s not very comfortable when we feel stressed and anxious, but it’s worse watching someone you love struggle.

A certain amount of stress is a normal part of college life. After all, there are assignments and papers and projects and exams and grades and social life and future careers to worry about. But when stress slides into feeling overwhelmed by everything, it can feel too challenging to manage.

What is overwhelm? It’s when your student feels submerged, smothered and paralyzed by it all. A certain amount of stress may be normal, but overwhelm feels like too much.

Why the overwhelm?

Students are juggling a lot.  They have schoolwork, possibly a job, a social life, perceived pressure to do well, expectations to live up to, increased responsibilities and independence, overscheduling and probably a lack of sleep.

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How Your Student Can Help Their Professors Do Their Job

One of the proven keys to success in college is the relationships students establish at school – with peers, professors, mentors, or other staff members. But establishing social connections and real relationships can be difficult for many students – especially following Covid isolation and especially with people they don’t know well. They aren’t sure where to start.

Enter your student’s professors.

The student-professor relationship can be one of the most important connections your student makes. But students are often intimidated by their professor or may not recognize the value of that relationship.

Some students and their professors work together well and communication happens smoothly and productively. Other students and professors struggle to work together because of differing personalities or styles of teaching and learning. But if your student makes the effort to consider their professor’s perspective, that relationship has the potential to become a valued one. Making that extra effort also means that your student will know that they have done everything they can to reach out positively to help someone else. That’s always a good feeling.

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Readmitted to College! Now What?

More and more students right now are taking a break from college. Some need a semester off and others need more time. Some choose to leave school and others may be academically dismissed or suspended, most often because they were overwhelmed or unprepared rather than for lack of ability.

If your student is dismissed from college, it can be a traumatic event for both your student and you. Deciding what to do and finding the way back can be a complex but often fulfilling process. If your student is newly dismissed, we have several articles that may help you and your student find your way.

What to Do If Your Student Is Academically Dismissed from College

Academically Dismissed from College: Time for a Reset

Academically Dismissed from College? Ten Steps to Move On

This article begins where those articles left off.

Your student has taken some time off, has applied for readmission and has been accepted. Now what?

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Reflecting on the First Year of College

Your student made it through that often tumultuous first-year transition to college – perhaps smoothly or maybe with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

Next stop – sophomore year. But first, there’s work to be done.

It’s time for your student to reflect and make meaning of their first-year experiences, consider the lessons learned, and uncover the wisdom that can help them navigate the next three years.

New sources of information

Your student has grown. Their experiences have given them new sources of information about themselves and about college, but they may not yet have connected all of the dots. Now is the time for your student to consciously integrate this knowledge into their sense of who they are and how they can move forward deliberately and with a stronger sense of purpose.

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How to Help Your Undecided Student Find Direction

This is Part 2 of our 2-part series on undecided students. Part 1 — Why Your Undecided Student May Be Drifting — discussed why your student may be having a difficult time deciding about a major. In this article we share some ways that parents can help their undecided student find direction.

There are many reasons for being undecided about a major. In our last article, we suggested that helping your undecided student find direction begins by helping them understand why they are undecided. You can help guide this process, but the deep work involved is your student’s work to do.

Being unsure about a major as you enter college might be the most appropriate course for many students, but it is important not to allow that uncertainty to become a drifting mentality.  Help your student formulate a plan to proactively investigate and narrow options and ultimately make at least a tentative choice.

A 7-step plan to help your student get started

Making a decision about a major — and possibly making it over again several times — can be so daunting that some undecided students begin to drift. They aimlessly move through each month or semester without making progress toward a choice because it is too difficult to know where to begin.

Help your student create a plan to guide their decision making.

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Why Your Undecided Student May be Drifting

Most traditional college students enter college when they are between 18-20 years old. Scientists tell us that at that age, young people’s brains are not yet fully formed — especially in the area of executive functioning.

Is it any wonder, then, that many students, (Virginia Gordon, in her book The Undecided College Student suggests close to 50% of them) are undecided about a major when they enter college? Or that approximately 75% of college students change their major at least once during their years in college, with the average student changing their mind three times?

It may not make sense to expect our college students to know at the outset what they want to do with their lives, but we do.

If your student is one of those many students who say they are undecided about a major, you may worry.  Your student worries, too. Will they ever find direction? Will they find it too late and not be able to complete college in a timely way? What if they never find the right career?  That’s a lot of anxiety.

Being unsure about a major as you enter college is OK — it might even be the most appropriate response.

What is not OK is to allow that uncertainty to become a drifting mentality.

How did we get here? Why do we (and students) worry about being ”undecided”?

”What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We ask our young children that question, and we get those cute responses. ”I want to be a ballet dancing doctor!” ”I want to be a gypsy!” ”I want to be an astronaut and a policeman!” At that age, it’s all about possibilities.

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