Why College Parents Might Be Interested in Student Engagement

Are you familiar with NSSE (pronounced ”Nessie”)?  As a college parent, you may have looked at some NSSE results when your student was choosing a college.  Or you may have heard from your college student that he has filled out a NSSE survey at his current school.  More than likely, however, you may not be aware of NSSE.  NSSE stands for the National Survey of Student Engagement, and as a college parent, it might be helpful to know something about it.

NSSE is an approximately ten year old, eighty-two question survey, conducted each year by researchers from Indiana University, which measures how students spend their time at college and what they gain from their college experiences.  Over the life of the survey, more than 1400 colleges have participated at least once, and over 2.4 million students have been surveyed.  Each year the survey is distributed to first year students and seniors at schools who choose to participate in the program.  The results for 2009, released recently, come from students at more than 600 schools. The results of the NSSE survey are intended to help schools identify areas that may be improved in order to help students become more engaged in their learning.

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Dual Registration May Give High School Students a Head Start on College

In two earlier posts, we discussed possible timelines for a college education.  Many students currently find that they need more than the traditional four years to successfully complete their college degree.  Other students may attempt to complete their college education in less than four years in order to save on tuition fees or to get into the workplace sooner.  Each student’s needs, motivation, abilities and financial situation are different.

One path that some students consider, in order to speed their college experience, is dual registration.  Dual registration involves high school students enrolling in college courses for credit at the same time that they are completing their high school work. They receive credit for the courses at both the high school and college level. It is sometimes called dual credit, concurrent enrollment, dual enrollment or joint enrollment.  Dual registration is not for everyone – in fact, a relatively small number of high school students attempt it – but for highly motivated and talented students, or students with particularly focused interests, it may be just the right thing to engage them during their final year of high school and to allow them to begin working on their college degree while still in high school.  This may allow them to save time and money when they enter college.

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College Parents Can Help Freshmen Understand the Differences Between High School and College

Both you and your almost college freshman have been looking forward to the start of college for a long time.  Both you and he are excited, emotional, and most likely a bit nervous.  One of the concerns that many students and their parents share is wondering whether the student will be able to succeed in his schoolwork at the college level.  You know that he is capable, he’s done well in high school, he’s anxious to do well, but you still have some concerns.  The world of college is a new arena – with new approaches, new expectations, and new standards.

You can help your college student make a good start in college by helping him to consider some of the differences between high school and college.  College will not simply be “more of the same thing” as high school.  One of the secrets to success in college for some of the best students is that they make the adjustment to the differences.  Here are some of the things that you and your college freshman might think about as she prepares for her first semester.

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Eight Life Skills You Should Teach Your College Freshman Before They Head to College

We send our students off to college to get an education.  We know that, in addition to their academic pursuits, they will be learning about life and the “real world”.  So why should we need to teach them anything before they head out the door?  Because there are some skills that will help them survive on their own as they navigate the world of college.  Here are eight skills that will help your student succeed in “College 101”.

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Why Doesn’t My College Freshman Want To Attend Orientation?

Most colleges conduct some kind of orientation for incoming students.  The orientation session may happen during the summer, or just prior to the beginning of classes.  Orientation is valuable and helpful for incoming students.   Your student is excited about beginning her college career.  But you are taken by surprise when it comes time for orientation and your student says she doesn’t want to attend – and may even say she’s changed her mind about attending college!  What’s going on?

The entire summer before the first year of college is likely to be a pendulum for your student between excitement and terror, longing for independence and clinging to home.  He may not even realize what a roller coaster ride he’s on, but the more that you remember the enormity of this transition, the more that you can help – even if it is just through your patience.  Although orientation may seem just the natural next step toward college, it may be one of the biggest steps.

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Students May Be Accepted To College, But For Spring Admission

Your student probably waited eagerly for that important admissions letter to arrive from his college of choice.  He hoped for an acceptance (possibly even early admission), but knew that either being waitlisted or rejected were also possibilities.  However, what he may not have expected was to be admitted – but for admission the following spring rather than in the fall.  An increasing number of schools are now considering this strategy.  What does it mean for your student?

If your student is accepted for spring admission, it means that the college has accepted her, but can’t seat her until the following spring.  The first thing that your student needs to realize is that it is admission.  If this is her first choice of school, she can pay the deposit knowing that she will have a place in the spring.  She should consider the option carefully before making a second choice out of frustration.  If this is her first choice, it may be worth the wait until spring.

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The College Catalog: Source of Information for Parents of College Students

The College Catalog or Course Catalog is an inclusive source of much of the important information that college students need for a successful college career.  Each school’s catalog is different, but most contain the essential information for students.  Some schools still publish a “hard copy” of the catalog and some schools publish their catalog in digital format only.  Most schools have their catalog available on their websites.

Why should college parents be interested in the college catalog?

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Admissions Waitlist: Helping Your Student Cope with Limbo

Editor’s note: This post was updated in March 2017

The college application process is a stressful time for both students and their parents: making the list, college visits, narrowing down the choices, SAT or ACT exams, applications, essays, recommendations, and then — finally — your child may find that they have been put on the wait list for their first choice college. They have officially entered the limbo in which more and more students (perhaps as high as 10% of applicants) find themselves.  Your student is not in — but they haven’t exactly been rejected either.  It is rather like trying to fly standby — you don’t have a seat on the plane yet, but there is a chance that you might get one.

It is discouraging, but all may not be lost.  There are some things that your ”almost” college student should — and should not — do.

What is a wait list and how does it work?

First of all, understand the nature of a wait list.  Being placed on a wait list is not a rejection.  The college has said that your student is qualified for admission, but that the college does not currently have a space for them.

The wait list is a pool of qualified students from which the college will draw if accepted applicants choose to go somewhere else. Some students may actually be overqualified, and the school is waiting to see whether they are accepted and choose to attend a more selective school.  The college doesn’t want to waste a spot in their accepted student pool on someone they assume will probably attend another college.  Other students may be slightly underqualified and are given a ”courtesy” place on the waitlist as a softer form of rejection.  This may be especially true of students who are related to alumni or wealthy donors.

But most students on the waitlist are fully qualified to attend the school.  The waitlist becomes a safety net for the college if their ”yield” (number of accepted students who make a deposit) is low.  As students today apply to more and more colleges, the yield may become more unpredictable.

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Should My Student Consider Taking a Gap Year Before Starting College?

If your student is considering taking a gap year, you should also read our post on deferring enrollment.

The majority of students move smoothly from high school to college.  College is the normal “next step” in the educational process.  For some students, however, that “next step” just doesn’t seem quite right, at least not just now.  It’s not that they don’t want to go to college, it is just that they may feel the need to do something before entering college.  For these students, a gap year may be the answer.

A gap year, sometimes called a year out, or year off, or bridging year, is a transition year, usually between high school and college, when the student takes time to do something else.  Although it is still the exception in the United States for students to take a gap year, it is a growing trend.  Some programs which target gap year students are seeing as much as 15-20% growth.  The National Association for College Admission Counseling has suggested that the practice of taking a gap year is on the rise.

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Should My Student Consider Deferring Enrollment for College?

Your “almost” college student has been accepted to college.  Congratulations!  That is cause for celebration – and probably some relief.  But your student isn’t sure that beginning college just now is the right thing for him.  Some students may decide to defer their enrollment for a year (or even two) after they have been accepted.  You may wonder what this means and how to go about it.

A student may decide to defer enrollment for any number of reasons.  He may wish to travel or study abroad, to work to earn money to pay for tuition, to take a year to pursue a sport or hobby.  The student may have health or family issues that need to be addressed, she may decide to take an extra, post-graduate year of study to increase skills or gain maturity, or the student may simply need a break from school in order to recharge and find focus.

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