Information for the parents of college students
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Category — Communicating With Your College Student

Are You Ready for the LONG Winter Break?

Right now, most college students are just hanging on through the final days or weeks of the semester.  They’re facing final papers, final projects, review sessions, and of course, final exams.  But at the end of it all will be Winter Break – a time to finally sleep, and eat, and sleep, and catch up with friends, and sleep.  Parents, are you ready for the next two or three or five or even six weeks?

Most parents and families are anxiously looking forward to having their college student home again.  But many parents may also be a bit nervous about what to expect.  If this is the first time that your student will be home for more than a few days since you dropped him off on move-in day, you may be more than a little nervous about what to expect.

Some of the keys to a great break for everyone are to anticipate what to expect, be prepared, and communicate with your student.  College Parent Central has several articles about how to make the most of this Winter Break, and we’ll share them below.  Take a few minutes to read them and to think about what you can do to be sure that you have a good break.  We’d also like to offer a few highlights to get you started.

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December 6, 2016   2 Comments

14 Suggestions of What to Do If (Not Necessarily When) Your Student Is Homesick

As parents sending our students off to college we’ve been told to expect that our student will be homesick. (We’ve written a post saying essentially the same thing – and it has some good advice). We’ve been told it’s inevitable. That it might happen right away or that it might take a while, but it will happen.  According to UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, close to 65% of college students will experience homesickness.  So it’s good to be prepared.

Is it really homesickness?

What is almost certain is that most students will experience some unhappiness, stress, and anxiety at some point.  It is a natural reaction to being out of your element and in unfamiliar territory. It’s what happens before you become, as Harlan Cohen terms it in his book The Naked Roommate, “comfortable with the uncomfortable.”  But are our students really homesick?

It depends on how you define homesick.  Are these students really missing home?  Are they really missing us? They hardly talked to us all summer. They’ve worked hard for years to get to this place. Just a few short weeks ago – or maybe days – they couldn’t wait to leave.  They couldn’t wait to be out on their own. Is it really home and parents that they are missing?

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August 23, 2016   No Comments

Six Steps to Help You and Your College Student Proactively Address Your Worries

In our last post we shared some of the information gathered in the latest parental survey conducted by the College Parents of America organization.  Among the statistics gathered as part of this survey, nearly 24% of parents expressed concern that their student will be successful in college and will complete their degree on time.  That’s a lot of parents with concerns.

Some parents are concerned about their student’s academic preparation (6%) and others (18%) express concern that other factors may impede their student’s progress.  Some of these parental concerns may be more well-founded than others, but whatever fears or concerns parents may have, worrying about your child’s success means that sending your student off to college may be especially difficult.

It is a helpless feeling to worry about something that you can’t control or confront.  Of course, there will always be some concerns, but we’d like to offer some suggestions that may help parents and their students face some of the concerns that may be clouding the college send-off.  These suggestions aren’t intended to minimize parental concerns, and they won’t eliminate real issues, but they may help parents and student identify and discuss the issues that exist.

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August 9, 2016   No Comments

Don’t Talk to Your Student This Thanksgiving!

Well, at least not right away.

You’ve anxiously awaited Thanksgiving Break to have your student home from college.  You expect that this first real break home will require some adjustments on everyone’s part, but you can’t wait for the chance to talk to your student.

How, then, could we possibly suggest that you not talk to your student?

What we’d like to suggest is that you take more time this break to listen to your student instead of talking.  Try to sit back a little and see what unfolds.  Read your student’s mood. (He’s going to be exhausted, so he may just want to sleep at first.) You might throw in a few questions, but not many.  And keep any questions open-ended and light. Don’t ask about every detail of life at college. (This is going to be hard.) Don’t press for information about grades and classes. (This may be even harder.)

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November 16, 2015   No Comments

Sending Your Student to College Might Improve Your Relationship

That moment on Move-in Day when you say your final goodbye to your college student and get in the car to drive away is a moment that will change your relationship with her forever. This is the moment that many parents fear. This is the reason that we try so hard to hold on tightly that last August. This is the reason that some parents hover and earn the “helicopter parent” title. This is the dreaded moment that can elicit tears.

Sending your student off to college is a milestone. And your relationship with your student will change. But that change may not be what you expect – or fear. As most parents worry about their changing relationship with their student, they think about what they may lose. They may not think about that relationship improving and getting better and even more fulfilling.

How can that be? How can your relationship improve if you aren’t there all of the time? Can this really be true?

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November 4, 2015   No Comments

Parents: Write a Commencement Speech

‘Tis the season of graduations and commencements.  And if there are graduations and commencements, then there are certainly speeches.

Most graduation speakers, students and dignitaries alike, work hard to craft a message that is a little bit autobiographical, a little bit clever and humorous, a little bit thought-provoking, and delivers an important message about life.

In spite of the hard work that these speech writers put in to their speeches, most also know that not many in the room, or auditorium, or gym or on the quad, will be listening.  And of those who listen, only a small percentage will remember what was said.  When she delivered the Commencement address at Harvard University in 2008, author J. K. Rowling actually found comfort in the fact that probably no one would remember what she had to say.  It calmed her nerves.  Obviously, graduation speeches are lost on the graduates.

But graduations and commencements continue to feature speakers who deliver advice and proclaim values that could, indeed, become life changing – or at least life guiding.  And perhaps some of the people who benefit most from those speeches are the writers themselves.  It is no easy task to decide what single message you think will most benefit a group of young adults about to head to college or out into the world.

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May 18, 2015   No Comments

“I Don’t Want to Go Back.” When Your College Freshman Wants to Quit

Sending your high school senior off to be a college freshman was exciting, scary and possibly a little sad.  But you’ve had time to get over many of those mixed emotions and you’re looking forward to him coming home for winter break.  You know you’ll have some negotiating to do so that everyone is comfortable with “house rules” during break, you’ll have a chance to catch up on his new life, and then he’ll return for round two – spring semester.

But what happens if, once your student is home for break, he says that he doesn’t want to return to school?  You hadn’t anticipated this and you aren’t prepared.

Dissatisfaction with the college experience at the end of the first semester is not uncommon.  Several national studies suggest that one third of college students do not return for their sophomore year of college, but there is little data regarding how many of those students leave at the midpoint of their first year.  However, both college personnel and first year students know that there are many students who will not be back for second semester.

So you are faced with a dilemma.  Your student says he does not want to return to school.  What do you do?

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December 11, 2014   No Comments

What You Might Not Know About College Parent Involvement

Parents are increasingly involved in the lives of college students. Colleges have noted the trend for several years. As college parents, we’ve earned several less-than-flattering nicknames – everything from helicopter parents (hovering) to snowplow parents (pushing obstacles out of the way) and lawnmower parents (running over anything blocking our student’s path).

But exactly how involved are parents in their college students’ lives? Is the perception accurate? And, although we know that students need to control their own lives, might there be benefits of parental involvement?

Campus ESP (Campus Experience for Students and Parents), a Philadelphia based technology company recently surveyed 1700 parents about their involvement with their students at the college level. The stated mission of Campus ESP is “to improve student success by strengthening relationships between schools, students, and those who influence them.” Parents are clearly some of the most influential people in their students’ lives (even if it may not always seem that way to parents).

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October 27, 2014   No Comments

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

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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September 4, 2014   No Comments

How to Tackle Tough Conversations with Your College Student

There are many reasons you might need to have a difficult conversation with your college student, and the middle or end of the year is often a time when that conversation needs to happen.  It might have to do with a poor semester academically, poor social decisions, financial issues, or many other possible situations.  Whatever the topic, chances are that you probably dread the conversation.  It’s important, it’s necessary, but you know that there are so many ways that it could go badly.

There is no getting around the fact that the conversation is probably going to be uncomfortable, but there are a few things that you can do to help it go more smoothly and to help both you and your student be more comfortable with the outcome.  Before you sit down to have that tough conversation with your student, consider a few things.

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January 16, 2014   No Comments