Sophomore Conversations – Settling in to College Life

As parents, we worry about our high school senior’s transition to college.  We know that this is a big step and we hope that both our student, and we, are prepared.

But even after your student has made those important first transitions to college, there are more changes ahead.  Each year of college brings its own phase of development, and the phenomenon of the “sophomore slump” is very real for many students.  Parents may be less comfortable with knowing what conversations they should be having with their second year student, but the work isn’t done.

Knowing that the second year of college may be significantly different from the first and being prepared for some changes, or even a potential sophomore slump, will arm your student and may prevent some difficult times.   Now that your student has some perspective on college life and studies, this is the ideal time to contemplate next steps. Not all topics are appropriate for everyone, but we’d like to suggest seven possible conversation starters.

Read moreSophomore Conversations – Settling in to College Life

The Decision to Volunteer – What to Do?

This is the second of two posts about the benefits of volunteering for college students.  In our first post, we suggested some advantages of volunteer work for your student.  In this post, we offer some suggestions about helping your student decide where and how to volunteer.

Your college student has decided to find some time in her college schedule to volunteer somewhere.  Good for her.  There are many benefits of volunteer work.

College students who choose to spend time in volunteer activities may do so for many reasons.  Some students find or believe in a particular cause and want to do all that they can to further that effort.  Other students may want to give of their time, but they are not sure what they want to do, or they are not sure what options exist.

Some colleges have an office or a designated person whose responsibility is to help students find and manage meaningful volunteer or community service opportunities.  If your student’s school has such a resource, this may be the best place for her to begin.  She may also talk to faculty members or other students (particularly upper class students) about opportunities.

Read moreThe Decision to Volunteer – What to Do?

Why Your College Student Should Spend Time Volunteering

Many high school students spend time volunteering or participating in community service activities as part of their high school graduation requirements.  Those who are not required to participate by their school often participate in community service activities in order to bolster their college applications.

Volunteering, or participating in activities to help others, is always a good thing, whatever the motivation.  However, one possible outcome of this requirement is that many students, once they get to college, feel they no longer “need” to volunteer since the school no longer requires participation and their college applications are done.  Like participation in extracurricular activities, some students see these activities as a means to an end (college admission) and may not realize many of the other benefits.

Read moreWhy Your College Student Should Spend Time Volunteering

“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.

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

Senior Summer: Why Your Almost College Student May Feel Homeless this Summer

The summer before the first year of college.  It is an interesting summer – for both parents and students.  There is the anticipation and excitement – but that is coupled with stress, nerves, and the emotions of leaving home and friends behind.  Parents need to be especially patient – both with themselves and with their students – as you both navigate this new territory.

One of the characteristics of this summer before college is that feeling of in-between that most high school graduates/not yet college freshmen feel.  They are of both worlds, yet not really of either.  It is a strange, somewhat homeless feeling for many students.

No longer high school

It is likely that for much of the last year of high school your senior couldn’t wait to be done.  The focus for several years has been on getting into college – the grades, the activities, the college visits, the applications, the acceptance,  the decision.  Once the goal of college admission was accomplished, many students settled into a few weeks, or months, of senioritis – finishing out the year.

Read moreSenior Summer: Why Your Almost College Student May Feel Homeless this Summer

When Graduation Means a Move Back Home

They’ve been called many things – the Millenial Generation, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, Digital Natives, Generation Next, Generation Me.  Now they are earning the title of the Boomerang Generation.  If you have a recent college graduate, or a college student due to graduate in the next few years, chances are that you should be getting that bedroom ready to welcome your student home again.

It may be reassuring to some parents with students moving back home, and to those students as well, to know that they are not alone.  According to a survey conducted by the consulting firm Twentysomething, Inc., 85% of 2011 college graduates will be moving back home, at least for a while.   The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 survey America’s Families and Living Arrangements, found that between 2005 and 2011 the percentage of individuals between 18 and 34 living at home has increased for all groups.  In the age group 25-34, the percentage of males living at home has increased from 14% to 19%.  The percentage of females in the same age group living at home has gone from 8% to 10%.  In the 18-24 age bracket the percentage of males at home has gone from 53% to 59% and females from 46% to 50% (this includes students living in college dorms during the school year).

Read moreWhen Graduation Means a Move Back Home

Signs That Your College Student May Be in Trouble

It is a natural thing for college parents to worry about the success of their student in college.  We hope for the best, mostly assume the best, and then we worry.  If your college student is a long distance away, or may have had some difficulties in high school, you worry even more.  Depending on what you and your college student have agreed is appropriate, you may be communicating with your student often (hopefully not too often!), or more infrequently (maybe once a week?).  When you do communicate, you listen carefully to what your student is saying – both directly and between the lines – and you try to determine how she is doing.

Obviously, all students are different – and the same student may seem very different or communicate differently at different times.  But there are some signs that you can watch and listen for that may indicate that your student is struggling with his college experience.  Nothing is foolproof, and you know your student best.  You will need to listen and observe carefully and try to determine whether something is the result of a mood or passing phase, or something more serious.  Be alert, especially, for multiple signs – and for behaviors that persist.  Remember to be patient and not to jump to quick conclusions.  College students, for the most part, are resilient.  What is a crisis today passes and may be fine in a day or two.  As a college parent, you should expect to see/hear some of these behaviors at times, but do recognize symptoms of trouble if you see several of the following indications that last.

Read moreSigns That Your College Student May Be in Trouble

Why Your College Student’s Roommate Conflict May Be a Good Thing

One of the things that college parents and their students both worry about is getting along with a college roommate.  Most students have never shared a room before, and small college residence hall rooms put students in close contact.  Parents and students alike realize that a good roommate relationship can be a wonderful experience, but a difficult situation can make everyone miserable.  Everyone hopes for the perfect match, a new best friend, and a happily-ever-after living arrangement.

Most colleges work hard at making good roommate matches.  They ask students for information about themselves and then assign roommates that have a good chance of being compatible based on lifestyle and interests.  However, no matching system is perfect, and even if students are perfectly matched, conflicts are inevitable. Even if students are well prepared for the experience of living with a roommate, conflicts are inevitable.   There are things that your student can do to try to minimize conflict and to deal with conflict when it arises.  One thing that you and your student may not have considered, however, is that there may actually be some benefits to those inevitable situations when your student is confronted with roommate issues.  We’d like to suggest four benefits or skills which your student may gain from dealing with roommate conflicts.

Read moreWhy Your College Student’s Roommate Conflict May Be a Good Thing

Helping Your College Student Reduce Roommate Conflict

Roommate conflict is unavoidable.  Although, as parents, we hope that our college student will get along perfectly with his college roommate, it is an unrealistic hope.  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.

However, even when we realize that some degree of conflict may be inevitable, and may possibly have beneficial effects, we hope that any conflict will be minimal.  There are some things, short of giving in on everything and putting up with anything, that students can do to minimize the issues that may arise between roommates.  If this is your student’s first time sharing a room and/or living with a larger group of people in close quarters, you may 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. In an earlier post, we considered some things that your student might do to prepare for life with a roommate.  In this post, we’ll look at what your student might do to reduce conflict and how to handle inevitable conflict when it occurs.  In an upcoming post, we’ll examine some actual positive benefits of dealing with some conflict.

Here are a few things that your college student might consider to reduce potential conflict.

Read moreHelping Your College Student Reduce Roommate Conflict

College Family Weekend or Parents’ Weekend Provides Multiple Opportunities for College Parents

You’ve probably already visited your child’s college several times.  You may have had one or more admission visits, an orientation visit, and then you dropped him off at the beginning of the school year.  However, each time you visited, both you and your student were still outsiders at the college.  College Family Weekends offer parents an opportunity to be hosted at college by their college student.  It is an important step for your college student and for you.

Most, but not all, colleges offer a Parents’ Weekend or Family Weekend – most often scheduled in late September or early October.  Family members (often including grandparents and siblings) are invited to come to campus to visit for the weekend, or for a long weekend.  The college plans numerous activities for family members, students actually clean their rooms, at some schools families may visit classes, and families and their students spend important time getting reacquainted.

Read moreCollege Family Weekend or Parents’ Weekend Provides Multiple Opportunities for College Parents

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