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.

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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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Is Your Student “Present” at College?

Distractions.  We’re surrounded by them in today’s world.  Children, students, adults: no one is immune to the constant bombardment and the temptation to try to go in many different directions at once.  We check our phones and social media, we send and receive texts, and we multitask. (How else would we ever get anything done?)  Some of us thrive on the energy – or at least we think we do.  Others lament the intrusion and wish we could shut the world out on occasion.  But whether we like it or not, we live in a distracted society.

What’s the problem?

The distractions we live with day to day can separate us from the present moment.  As we experience these distractions more and more, we lose, or at least weaken, our ability to be present now, where we find ourselves.  And although we all experience this separation, it can be even more of a problem for our college students.

For instance, several studies have indicated some alarming statistics about students and their phones. One study suggests that students check their phones on average every 11 minutes.  Another found that students check their phones 11.43 times each day while they are in class.  Still another study found that 40% of students said they would be incapable of going more than 10 minutes without checking their phones.  So clearly students are attached to their phones, to their social media, to their texts.  And in reality, so are many of their parents.

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College Parents in 2016: Where Do You Fit?

In June 2016, College Parents of America, a membership organization designed to assist college parents, conducted their latest survey of college parents.  College Parents of America gathered information from 510 parents through their subscribers and other internet channels.  According to the CPA website, the new survey showed that “college parents are an important source of support for increasing student success and college completion.”  We couldn’t agree more.

Parent involvement

This survey clearly demonstrates that parents are, or at least hope to be, involved in their student’s college life.  More than two thirds of parents responding said they plan to participate in family events such as move-in, orientation, or family weekend. Thirty-six percent said they communicate or plan to communicate with their student at least daily.  Although the college parents responding to this survey may be a somewhat self-selecting group, parents, on the whole, want to be involved.  Approximately 40% of parents responding said that their student attends college more than 4 hours away from home, so involvement for these parents may be different.

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College Parent Portal: Not Necessarily An Open Door for Everyone

Many elementary, middle and high schools today use a Parent Portal of some sort to help parents stay abreast of their student’s progress and activities.  Parents are encouraged to stay involved and to check the Portal every day.  Portals often provide information about school activities, attendance information, homework assignments, and student grades.  Parents can also use the portal to communicate with their student’s teachers, guidance counselors and even the school principal.

Is there a problem?

Schools use Parent Portal pages because they work.  They help maintain the connection and communication between students, school and parents.  Many colleges now have parent portal pages as well. So what’s the problem?

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A New Year Means . . . New Resolutions, Of Course: Nine Activities for You and Your College Student

It’s that time of year.  Reflections and looking back at the year that is ending, and Hopeful Beginnings as we look ahead and plan for the year to come.  Sometimes resolutions seem silly – we probably won’t keep them anyway.  But making a few New Year’s resolutions means thinking about the year to come – and what we’d like it (or us) to be like.

So as we begin 2016, we’d like to offer some suggestions for your college parenting year.  Take a few minutes to read our suggestions from previous years at the end of this post as well.  Our hope is to give you lots to think about – and then you choose what makes sense to you, or even better, make up your own.

This year, we’d like to suggest nine activities to undertake with your college student (or soon-to-be college student.)  We do a lot of talking here at College Parent Central about communicating with your student. But communicating can sometimes more easily occur while you are doing something together.  And doing something together often brings surprising discoveries (not to mention lots of fun) as you work or play together.

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14 Ways to Make Winter Break a “Get Ahead” Time for Your College Student

Winter Break is almost here. You had a taste of having your student home from college over Thanksgiving Break, but that was just an appetizer.  The full course is coming over Winter Break, which might be as long as a month or more. Hopefully, everything went well over Thanksgiving Break, but there may have been some adjustments and compromises along the way.

Thinking ahead to Winter Break, and doing some planning, means you and your student can work together to make it not only a pleasant, but a productive break as well.  Here are fourteen suggestions for ways that your student can use at least a portion of Winter Break to do more than just catch up on sleep and friends (but be sure to leave plenty of time for that as well).  Of course, he can’t do everything on this list, but help your student decide what will give him the most benefit.

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Colleges Recognize Parents As An Important Part of Student Success

Students head to college, not their parents; and students are, obviously, the main focus of the colleges they attend.  But even when your student goes to college, you are still part of the total picture of your student’s experiences, and colleges are recognizing your importance more and more.  In spite of all of the negative press about “helicopter parents” or “snowplow parents,” your appropriate involvement is important.

As an indication of the importance of parents to the college experience, many schools now have a staff member, or perhaps an entire office, dedicated to working with parents.  Recently, college personnel who work with parents and families at their institutions met in Savannah, GA to compare notes and share ideas at the fourth annual conference of AHEPPP – the Association of Higher Education Parent Program Professionals.  More than 160 colleges and universities are represented in the organization.  Parents, you matter to your students’ institutions!

If you haven’t discovered the Parent Office at your student’s institution, you might want to investigate whether there is one.  This office may communicate regularly with parents, or may be responsible for running events such as Orientation or Parents/Family Weekend.   According to a survey conducted biennially by the University of Minnesota since 2003, 23% of those responding to the survey this year said their office had been newly established in the past five years.

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