Information for the parents of college students
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Category — Student Success Tips

Is Your College Student Going to Class?

As a college parent, your answer to whether your student is going to class may be, “I assume so” or, “I hope so” or even, “I have no idea.”  Unless your student is living at home, once your student goes away to college, most parents have no way of knowing whether their student heads to class each day or not. While not knowing the answer to the question may bother many parents, these answers may be the most appropriate answers that we can give.

Going to class matters

Class attendance matters, even if professors don’t keep track.

Three specific studies support the importance of class attendance.  One study, conducted by Robert M. Schmidt, suggests that time spent in the classroom is the most important determinant of student success.  David Romer conducted another study in 1993 which found that students with strong attendance often averaged one letter grade higher than those who missed class frequently.  Still another study, conducted by Gary Wyatt, found that students with higher parental income tended to miss more classes, students who spent more time studying tended to miss fewer classes, and reinforced the finding that fewer absences translate into higher GPA.

It is common sense that students who spend time in class will do better, but research also supports this.

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February 9, 2015   No Comments

How to Help Your High School Student Work Now to Avoid College Remedial Courses

Is your student college ready?  The answer may not be what you think.  If your student has done reasonably well in high school and has high school diploma in hand, you may assume that your student is now ready for college.  Unfortunately, in most cases this may not be true.

According to a recent study conducted by the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education, an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization, “Every year in the United States, nearly 60% of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies. After enrolling, these students learn that they must take remedial courses in English or mathematics, which do not earn college credits.”  Even those students enrolled in a college preparatory curriculum may not be as ready as they should be.

According to another report, released by Achieve, Inc., students who require remedial courses in college graduate at half of the rate of their college ready peers.  Many students who do graduate need extra time to complete their degree.

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January 19, 2015   2 Comments

Does Your College Student Need a Fresh Start for Second Semester?

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.  The second semester of college provides its own challenges as well, but both students and parents may be unprepared for them.

Whether your student had a wonderful first semester, or struggled, the second semester can be a time to make a fresh start – to improve upon the first semester or to upgrade a good college experience to a new level.

Students begin the second semester of college with a semester’s experience and college knowledge behind them, but they may not be sure how to make the most of their experiences. Your student may need some help making this new start.

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

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January 8, 2015   No Comments

Beyond Admissions: Preparing Your High School Senior for College

As the parent of a high school senior (or junior) you may be doing everything that you can to help your student make decisions and get into the college of his choice.  This is an important time and there certainly are a lot of things to do.  As your student works on the college admissions process, you may be drawn into the whirlwind along with your student.

This is a good time to stop and think about how the college admissions process has involved you either directly or indirectly.

Your student is

  • preparing for PSAT, SAT and/or ACT exams,
  • making sure that extracurricular activities and community service are documented,
  • keeping grades strong,
  • cleaning up social media accounts,
  • attending college information workshops,
  • completing financial aid applications,
  • compiling lists of schools,
  • attending college fairs,
  • working with guidance counselors,
  • making college visits,
  • getting all paperwork organized,
  • writing essays,
  • sending out applications,
  • and finally – waiting impatiently for admissions decisions.

It’s no wonder students – and parents – feel overwhelmed.  Just thinking about the process can be exhausting.  And once those applications are in the mail, you may feel as though the real work of senior year is done.  Now you just wait – at least until letters arrive and new, and final, decisions need to be made.

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December 8, 2014   No Comments

Readmission to College: The Application Process

This is the second of two posts about the readmission process after academic dismissal. Be sure to read the first post for some suggestions about working with the college during your student’s time away.

Most students who are academically dismissed from college are asked to spend a certain period of time out of the school. That may be a semester, a year, or even longer. If your student has been working closely with the college after his dismissal, he will be clear about the length of time away, and he will have some information about how best to spend that time. The college recognizes that something went wrong for the student when he was enrolled and hopes that some time away will allow the student to address whatever issues interfered with his success.

The decision to return

Once your student feels ready to return to school, the first decision he will need to make is whether he will apply for readmission to his original school or consider transferring to another college or university. This is a very personal decision and should be made in conjunction with his family, and after gathering all of the necessary information from both his original school and any schools to which he is considering applying.

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October 23, 2014   No Comments

Going With the Flow: Why College Students’ Ability to Adapt Matters

While many of us are willing to take risks and move out of our comfort zone, the truth is that most of us don’t enjoy change – unless we are the person initiating it. Some people seem to respond positively to change, using the changes in our lives as opportunities for growth, but as human beings we thrive on routine and predictability. College students are no different.

A few weeks into the semester, many first year students begin to settle into a routine and develop habits as the novelty of their new lives wears off. This is a good thing and gives many students the peace of mind of being able to rely on some constancy in their lives. But this is also a good time for students to examine their routines to determine whether they are serving them well. Students who understand – and embrace – the qualities of flexibility and adaptability may be in a better position to grow and make the most of their experiences.

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October 2, 2014   No Comments

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.

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September 25, 2014   No Comments

You Can Influence Your College Student’s Classroom Success

Success in college means many things to many people. For some, it means a 4.0 GPA, for others it means landing the perfect job at graduation or being accepted to graduate school, for still others it may mean opportunities such as studying abroad and completing internships, and for still others, success may mean having a good time or finding a husband or wife.

However broadly you and your student define college success, it almost always includes at least some amount of success in the classroom. In spite of the importance of networking, social life, athletics, leadership, broad experiences, friendships, or job opportunities, the college experience centers around the classroom. And success in the classroom is important.

As a college parent, you hope for academic success, but there is little you can do to influence it. Your student’s success will depend on many factors, but they are, and should be, generally out of your control. In your role as sideline coach, you can cheer your student on – and occasionally give some advice – but the task of learning how to learn belongs to your student.

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August 25, 2014   No Comments

Are You Sending a Shy Student to College?

As parents, we’re all at least a little nervous as we send our student off to college for the first time. And students are nervous, too, even if they don’t admit it. But if the student we’re about to send off is shy, we may have more than the usual concerns. Will my student make friends? Will my student participate in class? Will my student communicate with her professors? Will my student get involved?

If you have a shy student, chances are that these are not new concerns. You’ve lived with these issues before, but they are magnified as you contemplate sending your student off to be on her own at college. You’re not going to change who she is, and you’re not going to be there to help directly, but you might help her think about her feelings and suggest a few things that might help.

Shy or introvert?

One place to start may be for you and your student to think about the difference between being shy and being introverted. Many people consider these the same thing, and they are often related, but they are not the same.

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June 23, 2014   No Comments

Managing Time, Managing Self: College Freshman Challenge – Part 2

This post is a continuation of our previous post, which focused on time management as an important college skill. We continue the discussion here by focusing on how students can manage their behavior as well as their time.

College students are told over and over again that one of the secrets to success in school is a good system of time management. And with only 24 hours a day and 168 hours a week, managing time is important. In the case of outstanding students, the old principle often holds true – “If you want something done, ask the busiest person around.” Some students just seem to be in control of their lives and their success.

Time management is important, but even more important may be the ability for self-management or priority management. The difficulty is not always in getting organized and coming up with a plan to get everything done, it is in making sure that you stick to the plan. Students often fall prey to the three big enemies of self-management – procrastination, interruptions, and distractions.

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June 2, 2014   No Comments