Whether Your College Student Is On Campus or Home: 20 Ideas for a Successful Semester

This semester looks different at almost every college in the nation. As each school attempts to find ways to educate their students in the midst of a pandemic, there are students studying fully on campus, fully at home, studying in hybrid modes and just about everything in between. Some schools are already well into their semester, some haven’t yet begun their year yet, and many have had to pivot from their original plans.

All of this means that your student has already had to adapt and adjust to new ways of doing college. Whether your student is a brand-new first-year student or a veteran sophomore, junior or senior, the approach to college this year is a first for everyone.

As a parent, you worry first about whether your student will remain healthy, but you may also worry about how your student will fare with all of these new ways of learning. We all want our students to succeed.

If your student is studying remotely this semester, they don’t have access to the usual on-campus ways of finding support and contacting professors. But even those students who are on campus may find restricted in-person contact with services and faculty.

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8 Reasons Why a Summer Class May Make Sense for Your Student This Year

This spring has been unsettling, challenging, and downright scary for many of us, including our college students.  They’ve been uprooted from college and replanted at home, with little opportunity to go anywhere or see anyone other than their family. Like some garden plants, not all transplant well. All require a little extra care – some extra water and not too much sun – while they adjust.

Your student may have made the transition to college-from-home smoothly or may have struggled with this new learning environment. Fortunately for many students, the semester is either over or just about there.  It’s time for a collective sigh of relief.  However it turned out, at least it’s done.

Taking a break – or taking a class?

So why, then, might your student want to turn around and sign up for a class or two this summer – especially if they didn’t like this new online environment? Shouldn’t they just relax and breathe that sigh of relief that they got through it? Don’t they deserve a break?

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College Parent News & Views

News & Views – April 2020

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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Completing the College Year at Home

It seems as though the entire world has gone upside down right now. Life is surreal and not a little bit terrifying. The Coronavirus dominates the news, most events have been cancelled, we’re all staying closer to home, some of us are working from home, schools are closing, and we all wonder what’s next.

If you have a college student, there’s a good chance that they are home, or headed home, possibly for the remainder of the school year. Many colleges are moving their courses online and it’s going to be a whole new world for many college students – and for their families.

We’re all going to be readjusting for the next few days. Everything feels awkward and out of place right now and it may take some time before your student finds their “new normal.” Stay flexible and go with the flow. Be available for your student, who may want to talk – or may not. Unlike Break, your student isn’t on vacation this time, they’ve just shifted where and how they’ll need to do college – at least for a little while.

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How to Drop Out of College (the Smart Way)

No, we’re not advocating that students drop out of college. Staying in college is a good thing and graduating from college is even better. But, unfortunately, a lot of students aren’t able to finish college as planned. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the national six-year graduation rate is about 60%.  That means that 4 of 10 students who start college may drop out before graduating.

Why do students leave?

There are many reasons that students leave college.  There may be one overriding factor or there may be multiple factors. According to most surveys, the primary reason for leaving is financial. College tuition costs continue to rise and many students, and their families, find that they simply cannot continue to put together the necessary funds or continue to amass huge college loans.

Another reason for leaving is closely related to financial issues. According to one study, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 54% of students who attend college work full time.  Many of these students find that they cannot continue to balance a full time job and full time student load, and so they drop out.

Students may also leave college for reasons beyond financial. Some students find they are not prepared academically for college level work. Some cite lack of support or social difficulties such as fitting in, finding friends, or getting caught up in a culture of drinking or drugs. Some encounter mental health issues or lack the maturity to be able to function independently.  And some students may simply be unmotivated: perhaps they never wanted to attend college or they are uninspired by their major or field of study.

Whatever the reason, if your student begins to talk about dropping out of college, it can be scary. You’re not sure what to do or where to go from here.

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Is Your Student Considering Getting Their College Degree Overseas?

More and more college students are studying abroad every year. During the 2017-2018 academic year 341,751 students studied abroad for a portion of the year. The fastest growing segment of students studying abroad is made up of those participating in short-term study abroad.

But perhaps your student is not interested in a short-term or even a semester study abroad experience. Another option is that of earning your entire bachelor’s degree overseas. The number of students who complete their entire degree program in another country is approximately 72% higher than it was 20 years ago.  If your student is considering an overseas degree, they may be in good company.

Why consider fully attending college abroad?

Although it may be difficult to think about your student being so far away, attending college abroad may make sense for some students.

Many schools in other countries are highly regarded and ranked. If you examine worldwide college rankings, many schools abroad rank higher than many U.S. schools.

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5 Situations that May Be Paralyzing Your College Student Right Now

There’s a rhythm to a college semester.

There’s the nervousness at the beginning of the semester as students look at the syllabus for each class and realize that there will be a lot of work to do. Gradually, however, routine settles in and work feels more manageable, and not as overwhelming as it seemed at first. This may be a bit of a honeymoon phase.

For many students, the first reality check may be midterm exams and midterm grades. This is the time to discover what has been working and, for some students, a recognition that some things need to change.

As students near the end of the semester, a second reality check occurs. Now there are only a few weeks remaining and some students may become paralyzed as they face their situation. They freeze because they’re not sure how to begin or how to deal with what needs to be done. If you feel that your student may be overwhelmed by any of these situations, start a conversation.

5 situations that may be paralyzing your student and how to take action

Attendance – Your student has missed a few classes.  Actually, your student has missed many classes. They haven’t been to class in a few days, or maybe even a few weeks.

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Tread Lightly, But Be Present: Supporting Your Student Through the Stressful End of the Semester

stressed man at computer

As the end of the semester nears, many college students feel their stress levels rise. Students realize how much work they still have left to do, and they realize that their time-management skills may not have served them well. They are overwhelmed, tired, possibly sick, and definitely nervous about the outcome.

As you begin to sense your student’s stress, your parental instincts kick in and you want to do everything you can to help. It’s a tricky time. It is important that you let your student know that you’re there for them, you’re ready to listen and offer an encouraging word, but your student needs to find ways of coping on their own. It’s part of the growth of independence and being a college student.

College parenting can be difficult. As parent, you need to tread lightly. It is difficult to step back and watch your student struggle, but sometimes all you can do is offer those encouraging words and a listening ear.

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Addressing College Freshman Fears Requires Action

A recent article by Kelci Lynn Lucier on Thought.com about Conquering 13 Common College Freshmen Fears points out some of the insecurities many new college students feel. We recommend the article as it helps students understand and combat some of the questions that may be in their minds.

We’d like to build on this good article and suggest some additional actions that students can take, as well as consider the parent perspective. Knowing how to talk to your student about their concerns will arm you to help.

Sometimes the best approach to addressing any challenge may be simply doing one thing – taking at least a single small step. It can overcome potential paralysis when students don’t know where to begin.

  1. I was admitted by accident.

Many students share this fear – that the college made a mistake when they sent that coveted acceptance letter. Remind your student that there are likely students all around them that feel exactly the same way – and that it is a perfectly normal feeling. Reassure them that this was not a mistake.

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Parenting Students with Learning Differences – Dealing with our Own Anxiety

This is the third article by College Parent Central contributor Dr. Lynn Abrahams.  Lynn specializes in college transition and success for students with learning differences.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, in her book How to Raise an Adult (2015), reports that American parents are depressed at twice the rate of the general population. There is no question about it, parenting can be stressful, challenging, and anxiety provoking.

As parents of students with learning differences, we have watched our kids navigate years of school experience. We have been with them through neuro-psych testing, diagnosis, meeting with teachers and special educators. We have shared both the success stories and the brick walls with them. As their parents, we know more than anyone else where the pitfalls could be. This is probably why our own anxiety can swell to explosion when they take that leap to go to college. In fact, it is possible that we could be even more anxious than they are!

I speak as both a parent and as a learning disability specialist, who has worked with college students for the past 30 years, when I say that we need to find healthy strategies to deal with our own anxiety. We will not be able to be supportive to our students if we don’t take care of ourselves first.

There is a reason airline personnel instruct us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before helping others – if we run out of oxygen we are of no use to anyone else.

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