When Your College Senior Hates Her Major

You’re almost at the finish line.  You’ve made it through that somewhat scary freshman year, the potential sophomore slump, junior year, and your student is now top of the heap – a senior!  It’s time for celebration and planning for Commencement.

But then it happens.  Your student decides that she hates her major.  She’s devastated.  You’re devastated.  You’re both at least a little scared.  Perhaps it’s the courses she’s now taking that sealed the deal.  Or perhaps she had an internship or opportunity to get out in the field and she hated the experience.  She’s upset, depressed and at a loss.  And so are you.  What now?

It’s a very difficult situation and it’s natural to be upset.  Discovering late in the college experience that your major doesn’t seem right can feel overwhelming.  And, as is often the case, it’s almost harder as a parent to watch your student be so unhappy.  But the situation is not unique.  Many students have second, and third, and fourth, thoughts about major and career – even in their senior year.

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Why Some College Parents’ Involvement Increases During the Second Semester

You sent your child off to college this fall.  It was hard. You said goodbye.  You worried. You worked at adjusting to the empty nest. You worried some more. But somehow, both you and your student survived.  You got through that difficult first semester.  It may have gone brilliantly, or there may have been some hiccups and room for improvement, but you both made it through.

So sending your student off for the second semester should be a breeze, right?  No big deal.  Maybe.  But maybe not.

The college parent timeline

Every parent’s experience is unique – because every student’s experience is unique. But there are some universals, and there is a cycle of college parenting for many families.  If you are having a difficult time with the second semester of college, you are not alone.

One problem, however, is that you don’t realize that you’re in good company.  No one talks about it.  When you sent your student off to college for the first time, you knew everyone else was feeling similar heart-tugs.  From articles, to the stories other parents shared, to the communication from the school, you knew you weren’t alone, and everyone told you it would be OK.

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How Do American College Students Manage Their Finances?

We have written an earlier post about college students and their use of credit cards.  The picture seems have improved over the past ten years. In general, students have fewer credit cards and lower balances. If your student has a credit card, have a conversation with him about how he uses his card and how he feels about credit.

We’d like to share some additional information from the same Experian study that gives an extended view of college students and their finances.  Clearly, many students are thinking about their money and their finances and are working to be responsible.  But there are also areas where there is room for improvement.

We hope this information may provide additional conversation starters with your college student.  Where does your student fit in the college student financial picture?

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10 Reasons Why Your Student May Have a Case of the “Second Semester Blues”

It’s winter.  In many places in the country it’s cold, and it’s dark a lot. The holiday break is over. The novelty of being a new college student has worn off.  May, and summer vacation, seem a long way off.  And now it’s time to get started with a new semester.

Is it any wonder that your student may have a case of the Second Semester Blues?

If your student is heading back to school but not particularly excited about the prospect, know that she is not alone.  There may be mild reluctance (who doesn’t hate the end of vacation?) or there may be serious resistance to returning.  Help your student to understand that this feeling is common.  There is no instant cure, but it may help your student to know that there are others who feel the same way – and that the feeling usually passes.

Why is your student feeling this way?

There are many reasons students may feel less than enthusiastic about their return to school for second semester, and some students may have multiple reasons.

Read more10 Reasons Why Your Student May Have a Case of the “Second Semester Blues”


Some “One-and-Done” New Year’s Resolutions for College Parents

The New Year has rolled around again – seemingly ever faster.  It feels as though we were just making our resolutions and plans for 2017 and here we are again.  As always, the changing of the year provides an excellent time to reflect, and then to look forward.

Several years ago, we offered some thoughts about the qualities that make good New Year resolutions.  If you’re a person who makes resolutions, we recommend reading our earlier article to see how your resolutions hold up.

But the problem with resolutions is that they often don’t hold up.  We make plans and promises (notice all of the ads this month for weight loss and quitting smoking!) but for most of us, they fade away quickly.  We’ve suggested resolutions in previous years, and we think they are still good suggestions for college parents.

But this year, we’re offering a slightly different list.  Each item in the list – or each resolution – contains only one thing.  They are, essentially, one-and-done resolutions.  Do something once and you’ve completed your resolution.  You don’t need to maintain a new habit; and you don’t need to feel guilty if you don’t.  We’re offering 12 suggestions, so you might even consider one each month for the year, but we hope you don’t wait that long.  And who knows, some might even become habits and stick in spite of it all.

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Involving Grandparents in the College Experience

Grandparents are everywhere!  According to U.S. Census information, more than one in every four adults in the United States is a grandparent.  Most of those grandparents are Baby Boomers in the 45 to 64 age range.  That means that most college students in the United States are likely to have at least one grandparent in their life.  The trends indicate that this number will continue to grow to 80 million grandmothers and grandfathers, or nearly one in three adults in America, by 2020 and that American grandparents will continue to play a central role in the lives of their grandchildren and their adult children.

Financial assistance – the most obvious connection

The MetLife Report on American Grandparents is based on a nationwide survey of adults aged 45 or more who have grandchildren under the age of 25.  This survey highlights some information about today’s grandparents and at least some of the connections that they have with their college aged grandchildren.

  • 63% of those surveyed said that they are giving some type of financial assistance or monetary gifts (of any kind) to their grandchildren.
  • 70% are giving less than $5000 and the median amount is $3000.
  • 26% of those surveyed are contributing to their grandchild’s education
  • 68% of those surveyed said they are not giving any financial advice or guidance to their grandchildren.
  • Of those grandparents helping with educational costs, 46% said they are contributing to an educational fund and 24% are helping fund a college education (others may be helping with preschool, elementary or high school costs).

These statistics give one important snapshot of a relationship between college students and their grandparents.  Financial assistance is clearly an important piece.  When the connection between college students and grandparents is discussed, the topic is overwhelmingly around the ways in which grandparents can best financially help their college student – how much to contribute, when to contribute, how to contribute.  But there’s more.

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College Students and Credit Cards

Credit and debit cards are part of the fabric of life for most Americans these days.  With the rise of online shopping, and the increasing use of automated services, credit cards are more than a convenience.  College students, too, are using credit cards; and many students use those cards wisely as they learn to manage their own finances.

How do students use credit?

Before you begin to think about your own student’s use of credit, it may be helpful to have a picture of how college students in general use their cards.

The 2016 Experian College Graduate Survey found that 58% of college graduates had at least one credit card and approximately 30% of graduates had some credit card debt.  The average balance carried by students was $2,573. The average number of cards held by students was 1.35.

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Helping Your College Student Reduce Roommate Conflict – But Why a Little Conflict May Be a Good Thing

Roommate conflict is unavoidable.  As parents, we hope that our college student will get along perfectly with her college roommate, but it is an unrealistic wish.  Whenever individuals live closely together, some amount of conflict is inevitable.  Actually, a little bit of conflict is not necessarily a bad thing.  Students learn important skills as they learn to handle issues with their roommates.

Even when we realize that some degree of conflict may be inevitable, and may possibly have beneficial effects, it is natural to hope that conflict will be minimal.  There are ways, short of giving in on everything, that students can minimize the issues that arise between roommates.

If this is your student’s first time sharing a room and/or living with a large group of people in close quarters, you can increase your student’s chances of having a good experience by helping her to think through some of the issues that might come up and how she will handle them. A good experience begins by preparing for life with a roommate.  But there are also things your student can do to reduce conflict and handle inevitable conflict when it does occur.

Read moreHelping Your College Student Reduce Roommate Conflict – But Why a Little Conflict May Be a Good Thing


New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of High School Seniors and College Students

As the old year rolls over into the new, it is often a time of looking backward and looking forward.  For many parents of high school seniors and college students, the focus may be more forward than backward.  It’s an exciting – and sometimes anxious time.

A few years ago, we offered some suggestions to keep in mind as you formulate your resolutions for the New Year.  We’d like to share them again here and then help you get started by offering five resolutions for high school senior parents and five resolutions for those of you who are college parents.

We’re sure you’ll add a few of your own, but we hope these may help to spur your imagination.

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Are You Ready for the LONG Winter Break?

Right now, most college students are just hanging on through the final days or weeks of the semester.  They’re facing final papers, final projects, review sessions, and of course, final exams.  But at the end of it all will be Winter Break – a time to finally sleep, and eat, and sleep, and catch up with friends, and sleep.  Parents, are you ready for the next two or three or five or even six weeks?

Most parents and families are anxiously looking forward to having their college student home again.  But many parents may also be a bit nervous about what to expect.  If this is the first time that your student will be home for more than a few days since you dropped him off on move-in day, you may be more than a little nervous about what to expect.

Some of the keys to a great break for everyone are to anticipate what to expect, be prepared, and communicate with your student.  College Parent Central has several articles about how to make the most of this Winter Break, and we’ll share them below.  Take a few minutes to read them and to think about what you can do to be sure that you have a good break.  We’d also like to offer a few highlights to get you started.

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