Information for the parents of college students
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Category — Orientation and Transition

Friends Along the Way: Your College Student’s Search for Friends

Parents everywhere have just dropped their students off at college for the first time.  It’s an emotional time.  Excitement is high, anxiety is high, and for many, there are mixed emotions about their student leaving home. As parents return home and try to settle into the new normal of not having their child at home, their child is busy making the transition to their new world away from home.  An essential part of that transition is making new friends.

For many students, much of their anxiety heading off to college has to do with whether or not they will find friends and “fit in.”  Friends can make all of the difference. Most colleges recognize this need and work hard to plan programming during the first few weeks of the semester to bring students together and encourage community building.  They know that students with a strong friend network are generally happier, do better, and are more likely to remain in school.

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August 29, 2016   No 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

Is Your Student Prepared for the Best Possible Start in College?

For many new college students, the first semester of college presents a challenge – and not just inside the classroom.  The transition to college is exciting; but it can be stressful and difficult for many students. Most students start out committed to doing well in college, but they sometimes lose focus on how to move toward their goal.

We’ve written an earlier post about the many challenges that students face during this important first semester of college.  Please take a few minutes to read about and anticipate some of these challenges.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your student had a coach to make this journey through the first semester along with your student?

At College Parent Central, we are committed to not only helping you, as a college parent, navigate the college experience and support your student, but also to helping your student as well.  We continue to share information with parents, but sometimes, students may need guidance from someone other than a parent.

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August 15, 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

Turning the Page on the College Decision Dilemma

For many high school seniors (and their parents) the last few months have been torture: all of the questions about where to apply to college, all of the college visits, all of the applications and essays and forms, the wait for the acceptance or rejection letters, and then finally the dilemma about the decision.

But May 1 has come and gone.  Decision Day is over.  Your student has made a decision, paid the deposit, and now a strange new phase begins – for both of you.

For high school seniors, the final few weeks of school may be a blur.  It’s time to make sure they don’t let their guard down and jeopardize the grades on which their acceptance is contingent.  And it’s an emotional time – full of the highs of celebrating the end of high school and lows of leaving their friends as they all move on.

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May 3, 2016   No Comments

Partnering With Your Student’s High School for College Success

College success.  It matters to all of us.  Colleges want students to succeed so they will stay in school and graduate.  High schools want students to succeed in college as a demonstration of their high school preparation.  And parents, well, of course we want to see our children succeed and graduate.

But although we all want the same thing for students, we don’t necessarily know how to all work together to make it happen.  Too often, we pull in separate directions, send mixed messages, or even directly oppose each other.  How then, can parents work together with their child’s high school to lay the foundation for college success?

Understand what students need

In 2014, Achieve, Inc., a nonprofit educational reform organization released compelling results of a national study of over 1,300 high school graduates.  We’ve shared some of the results of that study, Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work? in earlier posts.

Graduates, reflecting on their high school experiences after graduation wish they had known more during high school.  So how can we help students understand the value of certain experiences while they are in high school rather than only after high school? One approach to doing this is for parents and high schools to work more closely together to partner for their students’ success.

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March 7, 2016   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

The Good, the Bad, (and Sometimes the Ugly) of the First Year College Experience

Much happens for students as they attempt to make the transition from high school to college.  It is often a tumultuous time.  Some students make this transition relatively smoothly, while others struggle throughout their first year of college.  Results of a study of first year students were released in early October and may help parents better understand the nature of the transition and first year students’ experiences.

This past spring, Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 1,502 U.S. college students to better understand their experiences during their first year at college.  Very simply, the poll was an attempt to examine the challenges and triumphs that students face during their first year.  The study was commissioned by the JED Foundation, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and The Jordan Porco Foundation, and was administered last spring to high school graduates between the ages of 17-20, currently attending their second semester of college.

Essentially, this study attempted to address several areas:

  • Determine students’ levels of preparedness for college
  • Identify student challenges during transition
  • Pinpoint students’ main sources of support
  • Uncover the skills, education and information that students need for easier adjustment

Parents of current or future college students can consider some of the findings of this poll in order to think about important conversations with their student.  Some issues might be addressed with local schools as well.  How can we help our students currently enrolled in college, and how can we better prepare future college students?  What role do colleges, high schools and parents play in addressing some of the issues first year students face?

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October 19, 2015   No Comments

Your College Freshman: The Summer Flood of Information

When your student was in high school, she probably received what may have felt like an overwhelming amount of recruiting material from colleges.  Some may have come in the physical mail, and much of it may have come electronically.  Whatever its form, it just kept coming.

Now that your student has been accepted to college, has paid the deposit at her chosen school, and is about to head to college in a few short weeks, there is a new flood of information arriving – and this flood may make the earlier information seem like a mere trickle.  And there is an important difference this time: this information is crucial and should be carefully read and considered.

Lots of summer information

Although some of the summer information arriving from your student’s new college may come in hard copy through the mail, much of it will come electronically.  And the information that arrives electronically will be sent to your student, not to you.  It will most likely arrive at your student’s new college e-mail address, so it is important that she make sure that she sets that up as soon as the college gives her the log-in information.  Be sure to ask her whether she’s done that.

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June 29, 2015   No Comments

College Is a Next Step – That’s All

Heading off to college is a big step. Your student has anticipated this step for a long time and probably worked hard throughout high school to get ready, apply, and make that final decision.  As parents, you’ve been involved – sometimes in the thick of it all and sometimes on the sideline – and you are also anticipating a big change.

But as big as that step to college seems, it is just that – one more step.  And the step is that much easier for your student when he is prepared.  Perhaps one of the reasons we all have so much anxiety about the college admissions process and the college transition process is that we see it as a giant leap rather than a step.

Your student has taken steps throughout his life – some bigger than others.  There were those literal first steps, then daycare or preschool, kindergarten, middle school and high school.  Remember how scary each of those steps felt at the time?  Your student may have learned to ride a bike, have a first sleepover, play in a first athletic game, give a first music or dance recital, talk to a girl (!), go on a date, and learn to drive a car.  Scary, right?

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June 1, 2015   1 Comment