Information for the parents of college students
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Category — Supporting Your College Student

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

Deferred? Waitlisted? Help Your Student Take Action

The college admissions process is a roller coaster for everyone.  Students spend months, or years, preparing – taking the right classes, taking tests, visiting schools, filling out applications, writing essays, securing recommendations.  It’s exhausting and everyone is anxious for the process to conclude.

Many students send their applications for Early Action or Early Decision and hope to have an answer by December.  Other students apply through rolling admission or regular admission and hope to know their fate by early spring.

But two specific situations can thrust your student into limbo.  If your student has applied to school through Early Action or Early Decision and is deferred, she will need to wait to have her application reviewed with the regular pool of applicants in the spring.  If your student applies for regular admission and is wait listed, she will need to wait, sometimes well into the summer, to hear whether there will be a place for her – and this will depend on the response rate from those who have been offered a place through regular admission.

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January 5, 2015   No Comments

When Disappointment Comes for Your Student

Your student will experience disappointment. It is inevitable. There are the little disappointments that occur all through childhood, of course, but then there are bigger disappointments.  It may be failure to make the team or get the part in the play, a grade that is less than desired, loss of a scholarship, college rejection or deferral, or low GPA.  It might happen in high school or it might happen during college.

However, the important question is not whether your student will experience disappointment (he will) or even when, but what will you and your student do when the inevitable happens?

Your student may look to you, even without realizing that he is doing so, to model how he should handle his disappointment.  Whether it is an admission rejection or academic probation, it is important to see this as an opportunity to model your attitude and behavior for your student.  How you respond may affect how he reacts to the situation.  Remember when he was little and fell down?  Often, the first thing he did was look to you. If you smiled and laughed, he often got up and was fine.  If you were alarmed and fearful, tears came.

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December 18, 2014   4 Comments

“I Don’t Want to Go Back!” Helping Your Student Decide Whether to Return to School

In our previous post, we discussed what to do when your student comes home mid-year and says she doesn’t want to return to school.  First you listen, then you talk about possible reasons and look at options.  Now you need to help your student decide what to do.

Perhaps you’ve seen it coming over the course of the semester, or perhaps it has taken you by surprise.  But your student came home for what you thought was going to be a few weeks for winter break and has announced that she doesn’t want to return to school when break is over.  No one expected this when you headed to school for Move-in Day.

After you’ve listened to your student talk about her reasons – and possibly had to help her determine those reasons, after you’ve helped her think about her possible options, you may need to help her process those options to make a decision.  Of course, you might insist – either that she return to school or stay home – but the decision really must be your student’s or she will not be committed to making it work.

There is no one answer that is the best for all students.  Your student will need to think carefully about her reasons for not wanting to return and her ability to face whatever is making her unhappy or preventing her success.  As you help your student look at her situation from several angles, here are a few thoughts to share.

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December 15, 2014   No Comments

“I Don’t Want to Go Back.” When Your College Freshman Wants to Quit

Sending your high school senior off to be a college freshman was exciting, scary and possibly a little sad.  But you’ve had time to get over many of those mixed emotions and you’re looking forward to him coming home for winter break.  You know you’ll have some negotiating to do so that everyone is comfortable with “house rules” during break, you’ll have a chance to catch up on his new life, and then he’ll return for round two – spring semester.

But what happens if, once your student is home for break, he says that he doesn’t want to return to school?  You hadn’t anticipated this and you aren’t prepared.

Dissatisfaction with the college experience at the end of the first semester is not uncommon.  Several national studies suggest that one third of college students do not return for their sophomore year of college, but there is little data regarding how many of those students leave at the midpoint of their first year.  However, both college personnel and first year students know that there are many students who will not be back for second semester.

So you are faced with a dilemma.  Your student says he does not want to return to school.  What do you do?

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December 11, 2014   No Comments

How Can Parents Help College Students as the Semester Ends?

The end of the semester is almost here and your college student may be feeling stressed.  You wish you could help.  Or perhaps it’s nearing the end of the semester and your college student is just a bit too relaxed about the urgency of the work that still needs to be done.  You wish you could light a little fire under him.

In either of these cases, as a college parent, you may wonder what you can do to help your student cope with all that the end of a semester involves.  The truth is that you are limited in what you can do to help – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help in several important ways.

Once again – brush up those listening skills

There are many important points in our students’ lives when our listening skills may be the most important tool that we have in our toolkit.  The end of the semester may be one of them.  You may hear more from your student at this point, especially if she is feeling stressed.  Then again, you may not hear as much from your student – either because she is too busy to talk or write or because she is stressed and doesn’t want or know how to share those feelings.

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December 4, 2014   No Comments

The Culture Shock of Adjusting to College

Adjusting to college life is often harder than most first year students and their parents anticipate.  Students know that life at college is going to be different, and they are excited, and perhaps a bit anxious, about starting their adventure.  But it’s difficult to anticipate how different life may be when you don’t exactly know what to expect.  College is, for many students, a foreign culture.

Most students don’t equate entering college to entering a different culture.  When we talk about culture, we often refer to those things that we do and accept without really thinking about them: our way of life.  We have expectations, values, ways of talking, eating, behaving, relating to each other, and even thinking – but we don’t give these things any conscious thought most of the time.  When your student heads to college, she may need to think consciously about how she manages much of her daily life.  She needs to adjust – and that adjustment will come gradually.

Making the cultural adjustment

Most students make the adjustment to college life eventually.  However, each student may adjust according to a different timetable.  Some students may find that the adjustment comes fairly easily – they hardly realize that it is happening.  Other students find the process difficult, slow, and even painful at times.  However, the stages of cultural adjustment are similar for most everyone.  If you’ve ever spent a significant amount of time in a foreign country, you may have experienced these phases yourself.

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November 10, 2014   No Comments

College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career. However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research. We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student – and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below – and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

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October 30, 2014   No Comments

Readmission to College: Work With the School

If your student has been dismissed from college for poor academic performance (sometimes called Satisfactory Academic Progress), it can be a devastating blow. Both you and your student will need to come to terms with the reality, evaluate what happened, and decide how to move forward. We have several earlier posts that may help you with these stages of the process.

What To Do If Your Student Is Academically Dismissed from College

Academically Dismissed from College? Time for a Reset

Academically Dismissed from College? Ten Steps to Move On

However, once you and your student have evaluated the situation, and perhaps taken some time away from school, your student may be ready to get back on track – either at her former school or at a new school. She may have questions, but she may not be sure where to begin.

Let your student take ownership

It is important that your student, not you, do the work to prepare to return to school, but you may need to give her some guidance about necessary steps. All calls to the school, all e-mails to school offices, all visits to college offices, all application or appeal materials should be completed by your student and not you. The college is looking for responsibility on your student’s part. She should advocate for herself and make her own case. If you step in, you may actually hurt your student’s chances of being readmitted. [Read more →]

October 20, 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