Is Your New College Student a Victim of “Impostor Syndrome?”

Poet Maya Angelou once said, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, – uh-oh, they’re going to find out now.  I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

It is not unusual for successful people to doubt the legitimacy of their success. Many college students are no different.  Your student worries that she doesn’t belong at the college, she’s a fraud, the college made a mistake by admitting her.  She’s a victim of “Impostor Syndrome.”

One psychologist found that as many as 70% of people admit to feeling, at some point in their lives, that they are inadequate and don’t deserve their success.  So if the feeling rings true for your student, she’s in good company.  If your student secretly worries about her abilities, it may help her to know that she’s not alone.

What does your student feel?

It is important to realize that, even though you know that your student’s admission was deserved and you know that your student will do well, the fear and concern that your student feels is real. Logic may tell her that she deserves to be where she is and that she is just as qualified as her classmates, but the belief that it is all a mistake is not based on logic.

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Helping Your College Student Living at Home

The college years are a time of growing independence for most college students.  When students leave home to go away to college, they learn not only what they are being taught in their classes, but they learn many life skills as well.  College students living away from home learn to manage their time, balance priorities, budget their money, hone their life skills, maintain relationships, and conduct the logistical necessities of their lives.

But what about students who attend college while continuing to live at home?  Will they develop the independence that their classmates living on campus do?  What about the parents of college students living at home? These parents face a unique set of issues. How will they cope with having an emerging adult in residence at home?  How can parents help their at-home college student to gain independence while still maintaining a household in which everyone is comfortable?

Why is your college student choosing to live at home?

Students may choose to live at home during college for many different reasons.  Perhaps one of the most common and obvious reasons is to save money.  Although tuition costs are high, they are only one portion of the cost of attending college. A student who can live at home, and therefore reduce or eliminate room and board costs, can save thousands of dollars.

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Three Things You Should NOT Ask Your College Student to Share With You

Your soon-to-be college student is busy getting ready to head off to college.  You want to make sure that both you and she have all of the information that you both need, and you want to help her prepare.  So you ask her to share some pieces of information with you – so you can help and give advice.

This makes sense and sounds like a good idea.  And sharing some information is important.  But there’s a line between helpful and intrusive.  Here are three pieces of information that may cross the line – for different reasons.

The roommate information form

If your student will be living on campus, she will probably have a roommate.  Colleges work hard to make roommate matches that make sense and have a good chance to work out.  In order to do this, the college will ask your student to fill out a matching profile, lifestyle questionnaire, or roommate profile.  This form will ask about lifestyle preferences that may make a difference in a living situation such as: Are you an early riser or late-to-bed person? Do you study with music or in silence? What type of music do you prefer? Are you generally messy or a neat-freak? Do you smoke?  What are your interests?  Do you prefer to sleep in the dark or with a light on? Window open or closed?

Why sharing this information isn’t a good idea

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Senior Summer: At the Crossroads of No Longer and Not Yet

The summer after the last year of high school and before the first year of college is an interesting summer – for both parents and students.  There is the anticipation and excitement – coupled with stress, nerves, and the emotions of leaving home and friends behind. For parents, it’s about letting go – and having trust.  Parents need to be especially patient – both with themselves and with their students – as everyone navigates this new territory.

That homeless feeling

One of the characteristics of this summer before college is the feeling of in-between that most high school graduates/not yet college freshmen feel.  They are of both worlds, yet not really of either.  It is a strange, somewhat homeless feeling for many students.

No longer high school

For much of the last year of high school your senior couldn’t wait to be done.  The focus was on getting into college – grades, activities, college visits, applications, acceptance, decision, deposit.  Once college admission is accomplished, many students settle into a few weeks (or months) of senioritis – and finish out the year.

The last part of senior year is, in many ways, one big send-off.  There are senior projects, senior week or senior days, perhaps a senior trip, senior prom, graduation, parties.  But now high school is finished.  Your senior is no longer part of that world.  The junior class may already have had a move-up or step-up day.

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Should Your Student Consider a High School Post Grad Year?

Your student is about to graduate from high school, and she’s ready to head to college in the fall.  Congratulations!

But wait! What if only part of that statement is true?

Your student may be about to graduate from high school, but that doesn’t automatically mean that she’s ready to head to college in the fall. Not all students mature and operate on the same timetable. Not all students have an immediate interest in college. More and more students and their parents are considering a postgrad or fifth year of high school to prepare for college.

What is a high school post grad year?

A postgrad year does not mean that your student simply stays in her high school a year longer.  It is not a fifth year because your student has not done well and is not ready to graduate.  A postgrad high school year is a specialized year of school for students who have already earned their high school diploma.  It is most often a year of school spent at an independent high school with a specialized curriculum designed for the experience.

Postgrad experiences have been around for a long time.  They have traditionally existed at New England prep schools for male athletes who need an extra year to improve athletically and to bolster grades.  Recently, however, more schools offer postgrad experiences, more students are applying, including females and non-athletes. According to the Boarding School Review, as many as 146 schools now offer such programs.  A few schools offer day programs as well.

A postgrad program serves as a transitional year for a student to experience living on his own, away from home.  Programs are generally designed for academically strong, motivated students who want to experience new courses, challenges and personal growth.  Programs are often competitive, and schools look for students who have demonstrated academic growth throughout their high school careers and who have demonstrated a positive trend.  The postgrad year allows these students to build on their past experiences.

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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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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?

Read more14 Suggestions of What to Do If (Not Necessarily When) Your Student Is Homesick


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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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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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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