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.

Read moreHelping Your College Student Cope with Stress

Discussing Campus Safety With Your College Student

As college parents, one of our major concerns when our students head off to college is their safety.  We want our students to do well academically, we want them to be healthy, we want them to be happy, but first and foremost, we want them to be safe.

Ideally, a three way partnership will do the most to help keep college students safe.  Parents need to talk to their students about safety, students need to exercise awareness and behave responsibly, and colleges need to take precautions to keep students safe.

Concern for the safety of college students is a growing national concern in light of recent incidents and tragedies on college campuses. One law and one initiative in particular attempt to address this concern.

Read moreDiscussing Campus Safety With Your College Student

College Parents Warned of Phone Scam – Don’t Be a Victim

The con artists are at it again.  But this time, it’s not college students who are the target, it’s their parents. This scam, a “virtual kidnapping” scam, has been around for a couple of years, with the FBI issuing warnings in January 2015,  but authorities are warning parents that it seems to be on the rise again in the past few months.  Several colleges in several states, including Arizona State University, George Mason University and the University of Texas at Arlington,  have issued warnings to parents.

As with so many scams, knowledge is power.  Being aware that this scam exists is the best first defense against becoming a victim.

In the “virtual kidnapping” scam, parents receive a phone call from a stranger who claims to have kidnapped their child.  Sometimes parents hear muffled screams or cries in the background. Someone who sounds much like their child may even get on the phone quickly, crying and begging them to pay whatever is asked.  Calls come from outside area codes, often 787 or 939 – Puerto Rican codes. The call may come from a blocked or private number.  The caller knows the child’s name and often many details as well.  These details are often gleaned from public information and/or social media sites.

Read moreCollege Parents Warned of Phone Scam – Don’t Be a Victim

Don’t Let Your College Student Become a Target

Con artists have been around forever.  Scams have caught unwary victims before, and they will again. But it seems that one of the newest targets for these unsavory characters is college students, and often their parents as well.  Make sure you stay alert and talk to your student about being careful as well.

College students may be prime targets of scammers for several reasons.  They are busy and distracted, many don’t have much financial or tax experience, most don’t have extensive credit histories yet and/or don’t check them, and they spend much of their lives online.

What’s the latest threat?

According to the Internal Revenue Service, one of the most recent scams involves students receiving a phone call from someone impersonating an IRS official and demanding payment of a “federal student tax.”  The IRS wants to make it clear that there is no such tax.  But the caller claims that the student owes the tax and that he will call the local police to arrest the student if it is not paid.  If the student hangs up, there may be follow-up calls. Often, the caller has just enough information about the student, gleaned from public sources such as directory information, to make the call sound more legitimate.

Read moreDon’t Let Your College Student Become a Target

Why Your Student Should Have a Personal Departure Plan from College

The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have it right.  Be Prepared.  In so many situations, it’s important to have a plan that you hope you’ll never need.  Arming your student with a plan for how to proceed in an emergency means less anxiety for both your student and you.  Hopefully, it’s a plan your student will never need, but he knows he’s prepared – just in case.  Take time to talk with your student about his plan, work on it together, and make sure that you both know the details – just in case.

Evacuation plans

There are two general types of situations in which your student might need to leave campus quickly.  The first situation entails an instance when the campus might need to be evacuated by all students.  This might be a situation such as a weather emergency, an environmental threat, or other factor which affects all personnel at the college.

In the event of a general evacuation, the most important thing is for your student to carefully follow the instructions given by the institution.  Almost all schools now have carefully considered plans for evacuating their campus in an emergency.  Your student should look at the website or other material given to him by the college to make sure he knows what he is expected to do and how he will receive information.

Read moreWhy Your Student Should Have a Personal Departure Plan from College

Who’s Minding Your College Student’s Health?

We all want our children to be as healthy as possible.  When they were young, we took them for their regular check-ups, and we often continue to monitor and care for them when they are sick.  When our child becomes a college student, one of the many things that she will need to learn is to manage is her own healthcare

Fortunately, we do not send our college students off to a healthcare vacuum. Virtually every college or university offers some form of healthcare for its students.

College healthcare services have expanded from the earlier days of basic care for sick or injured students to a broader definition of health and wellness.  Most current college health services cover the treatment, management and prevention of health conditions and emergencies by providing onsite medical and counseling services and general wellness programming. The college healthcare field has shown significant growth in mission, services and facilities, with the greatest growth in recent years being in the area of mental health services.

Read moreWho’s Minding Your College Student’s Health?

Has Your College Student Gotten a Flu Shot?

Chances are good that your college student may not have done the one thing that could make a difference in her health this winter – get a flu shot. Because college students live so closely together in residence halls, once the flu begins, it can spread quickly throughout a campus. Yet according to a study done by Janet Yang at the University of Buffalo, (as reported by Huffington Post) only about 8 percent of college students received a flu shot in a recent year.

Why do college students skip this seemingly simply solution?

One reason students may not be getting vaccinated is because they know that they are not in the groups that are at highest risk of death or other serious consequences from flu. Students may also not be thinking about the seriousness of flu because it is an annual disease and we hear about it every year. Students have stopped paying attention – or never really paid attention to messages in the first place.

Read moreHas Your College Student Gotten a Flu Shot?

Sweet Dreams! Is Your College Student Getting Enough of Them?

News flash! College students don’t get enough sleep!

Well, actually, this may not be a news flash for anyone. Americans overall are getting less sleep, and many of us recognize that we need more than we are getting. But college students are the group most deprived of the sleep that they need. One study reported that only 11% of college students reported good quality sleep, and college students today get approximately two hours less sleep a night than students in the 1980’s.

Sleep is vital to our well-being, and not getting enough can affect students’ health, moods, safety, and GPA. Many students, who may be in charge of their sleep habits for the first time in their lives (Mom isn’t telling them it’s time for bed), underestimate their need for sleep and may not realize the extent of the harmful effects of lack of sleep. As they try to balance classes, jobs, new independence and social lives, students often develop unhealthy patterns and habits.

As a college parent, you ultimately have no control over how much sleep your college student gets, and that’s appropriate. Part of the college experience is learning how to regulate your life. But just as you might talk to your student about his time management or financial budget, have a conversation with your student about his sleep habits. This may be especially important if your student feels chronically tired, irritable, sleeps excessively on the weekends, or is struggling academically. Don’t nag your student, but help him understand the importance of sleep, and help him think about how to get more.

Read moreSweet Dreams! Is Your College Student Getting Enough of Them?

Living on Campus? Why Your College Student Needs the Meningitis Vaccine

If you have a student headed to college, you’ll need immunization records.  And if your student will be living on campus, he’ll likely be required to have the meningitis vaccination – and for good reason.

College freshmen are the most likely segment of the US population to contract bacterial meningitis.  Because so many students in this group live together so closely in college residence halls, they are six times more likely to contract the disease than other segments of the population.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 2,600 people in the United States contract meningitis each year and as many as 10-14% of those (1 in 7) will die.  Many who survive may have lasting disabilities.

The good news is that according to the American College Health Association, 80% of those cases could be prevented.

Read moreLiving on Campus? Why Your College Student Needs the Meningitis Vaccine

Service and Therapy Animals on College Campuses

If your college student relies on a service animal for assistance with a disability, the prospect of going to college, especially if it involves living on campus, comes with extra complexities.  Your student may be concerned about whether her service animal will be able to live in the residence hall with her.

Fortunately, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, your student should have no problem bringing her service animal to college with her. Many colleges and universities are experiencing a rise in requests to bring service animals to campus. The law defines a service animal as any dog (or other animal) that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.  The tasks that the animal performs must be related to the student’s disability, and can include a wide variety of services, such as assisting the blind, alerting individuals who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, or retrieving items. Service animals may also perform tasks such as recognizing and assisting during seizures.

Service animals do not necessarily need certification, although your student may need a letter from a doctor stating the need for the animal.  According to the American with Disabilities Act, the school may ask whether the animal is required because of a disability and what service the animal performs. Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, tethered or under strict control pr the school may request that they be removed.

Read moreService and Therapy Animals on College Campuses

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