What’s Going On with Your Student in Trouble?

It’s possible you may be taken by surprise if you learn that your student is struggling or in trouble – especially academically.  You didn’t see this coming and wonder how you missed it.

On the other hand, you may clearly see that your student is in difficulty but wonder how your student is missing it – or at least not talking about it.

Of course, there are other times when no one sees it coming and everyone is taken by surprise. Trouble may have been brewing for a while, but it seems to have come out of nowhere.

My student won’t talk about it – or even admit there’s trouble.

This can be especially frustrating. It’s obvious that your student needs help and you’re willing to support them in finding it. But your student seems to be shutting you out. What’s going on?

“I’m embarrassed and ashamed because I’m failing some of my classes. I’m supposed to be able to do this work and my parents – and the rest of my family and friends – expect me to do well. My parents are paying a lot of money and now it’s wasted. The college must have made a mistake in admitting me. If I don’t tell anyone about this maybe they won’t find out.”

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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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Review – The Talking College Card Deck

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.

This time, we’re taking a slightly different approach and reviewing a product, rather than a book, that is a great resource for helping your student make the transition from high school to college. Although we generally stick to books, we think this set of conversation prompts fills many of the same needs.

Be sure to visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

Having the right conversations is an important way to help prepare your student for college. The Talking College Card Deck, created by Dr. Andrea Brenner, is a collection of discussion prompts for parents and students that will help you begin those essential conversations. These pre-college conversations can help parents and students learn from each other and anticipate the college experience.

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11 Reasons Your College Student May Call

Not all phone calls are the same.

We have so many ways to communicate with our college students these days that phone calls may be less frequent. According to Barbara Hofer, author of the book The iConnected Parent, parents and students communicate an average of 13.4 times per week — but that didn’t include texting! Many students and parents text each other anywhere from several times per day to once a week or so.

As long as both you and your student are comfortable and agree on the amount, occasional check-ins are good for all of us.

With the ease and immediacy of texting, phone calls (or Zoom, Facetime or Skype) with our students have become more rare. They take more effort and coordination and involve more extended conversations. But sometimes, there’s nothing like hearing the other person’s voice.

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How a Walk Down Memory Lane Can Help Your College Student Move Forward

We all want to move forward — especially this year. We have our eyes on the future and we’re anxious to leave this very difficult year behind us.

Sometimes, when children are young, they thrust themselves headlong in one direction while busily watching all that is going on around them. The result? They trip and fall. We admonish them, ”Point your nose with your toes! Look where you are going!”

Why then, might we want to help our students look backwards — maybe quite far backwards — in order to move forward?

Because reflection is a clarifying exercise. It helps us think about where we’ve been. It helps us gain perspective. It helps us gather wisdom from the past. It helps us move forward with greater purpose and understanding.

Help your student take a walk down their own memory lane

As your student prepares to head off to college, they are, appropriately, looking to their new life and the fresh start that it brings. This is an ideal time to help them slow down a little and remember how they have come to this place.

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Your Student Needs This Time Over Winter Break

Winter Break. Most college students look forward to it — and they get increasingly impatient for it as the semester draws to a close. Students face deadlines they may have ignored, final papers, final projects, final exams, and a generally stressful few weeks as they finish up their term.

This year, the stress has increased as they attempted to do their work in masked and distanced classrooms, in hybrid settings or fully remote — either from home or from dorm rooms. It’s been a difficult semester for everyone.

Winter Break

This year, as we enter what many are telling us will be the darkest and most difficult winter we’ve faced, students may be anticipating Break more than ever. Students don’t want this Break, they need this Break. But Winter Break will not be business as usual this year. There may be minimal travel, fewer events, smaller family gatherings, less socializing, and students may have more time on their hands. This has been a year like no other, and it promises to be a Winter Break unlike anything we’ve known.

Whether your student is finally coming home or has been home all along, the next few weeks may prove challenging for everyone. But wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, most students need one thing as this semester draws to a close: time.

Not all time is the same

Your student may be home longer this winter, as many colleges end earlier than usual and many  delay the start of spring semester. But no matter how long your student’s break from college, not all of their time should be the same. Students need different types of time to help them recharge from this ”semester -like-no-other” and to prepare to move forward.

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#015 – Special Episode – COVID-19 – One Month In: Challenges of Staying the Course

Now that your student has transitioned to their new online college environment, they face new challenges. Staying motivated and focused isn’t easy. Students are overwhelmed by coursework, miss their friends and social life, and don’t know how long this new way of life will last. Although the college semester has a finish line, it still seems a long way off.  In this episode Lynn and Vicki share with parents some observations about the specific challenges many students are facing right now both academically and in their daily lives as well as some suggestions for coping with these obstacles. Parents can’t fix all of their student’s issues, but understanding what they are can help parents provide the guidance students may need.

 

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Beyond Parents Weekend: Why College Parent Engagement Matters

We are not advocating parent helicoptering. Engagement is not hovering.

College students need to practice their independence, make their own decisions, take responsibility for their education, and begin to lay the foundation for their future. But when you drop your student off on Move-in Day, your parenting job doesn’t end — it simply changes. (Actually, it’s not simple, but it changes.) When your student graduates from college, your parenting job doesn’t end — it changes once again. You are a parent for life.

However, there’s a difference between checking in with your student and checking up on your student. That can be the difference between helicoptering and engagement.

Why are parents so involved?

Throughout most of our student’s school years, the messaging has been that parental involvement correlates with success.  We’ve been told we need to partner with the school to support our students and to send them the message that their education matters.  Students are used to us being involved — and many, perhaps the majority, want it to continue. Why should we believe that things will change when those same students head to college?

But it does change. Parental engagement on the college level needs to look different.

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Parenting Students with Learning Differences – Dealing with our Own Anxiety

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

Julie Lythcott-Haims, in her book How to Raise an Adult (2015), reports that American parents are depressed at twice the rate of the general population. There is no question about it, parenting can be stressful, challenging, and anxiety provoking.

As parents of students with learning differences, we have watched our kids navigate years of school experience. We have been with them through neuro-psych testing, diagnosis, meeting with teachers and special educators. We have shared both the success stories and the brick walls with them. As their parents, we know more than anyone else where the pitfalls could be. This is probably why our own anxiety can swell to explosion when they take that leap to go to college. In fact, it is possible that we could be even more anxious than they are!

I speak as both a parent and as a learning disability specialist, who has worked with college students for the past 30 years, when I say that we need to find healthy strategies to deal with our own anxiety. We will not be able to be supportive to our students if we don’t take care of ourselves first.

There is a reason airline personnel instruct us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before helping others — if we run out of oxygen we are of no use to anyone else.

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Beyond the Pumpkin Pie: When Your College Student Comes Home for Thanksgiving

For many students and their families, Thanksgiving Break will be the first extended trip home from college.  It’s a bit of an appetizer for the longer Winter Break to come.

We’re excited to have our student home. We have plans.  We’ve been baking and cleaning and thinking about those long, important conversations.  We’ll have a chance to catch up and learn all of the details about our student’s life at college.

Maybe.  Be careful.  Don’t expect too much. Be prepared so that you can make the most of the time that you have.

There will be plenty of time for more extended conversations over the longer Winter Break, but you need to give your student some space to relax and regroup for the final push of the semester. This will be a good time for a check-in, and with some thinking and planning you can make the most of the short break.

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