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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Helping Your College Student Living at Home: What Can You Do?

This is the second of two posts considering college students who live at home during the college years. Parents of these students face a unique set of issues.  In our first post, we looked at some of the reasons that students may choose to live at home, and some of the issues that might arise.  In this post, we consider some things that parents can do to help make the experience a rewarding one for everyone involved.

Recognizing that your college student living at home may have reservations about the experience and will face a unique set of issues is an important first step in helping your student make the most of the college experience.  Recognizing that your “letting go” process will be more complex with your student living at home will also help you to analyze the experience.  However, it is important that parents, and their college students, recognize that there are things that they can do to make this experience go smoothly – and ensure a rewarding four years.

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Helping Your College Student Living at Home: What Are the Issues?

This is the first of two posts considering college students who live at home during the college years. Parents of these students face a unique set of issues.  In this first post, we look at some of the reasons that students may choose to live at home, and some of the issues that might arise.  In our next post, we will consider some things that parents can do to help make the experience a rewarding one for everyone involved.

 

The college years are a time of growing independence for most college students.  When students leave home to go away to college, they learn not only what they are being taught by their professors, but they learn many life skills.  College students living away from home learn to manage their time, balance priorities, budget their money, hone their life skills, maintain relationships, and conduct the logistical necessities of their lives.

But what about students who attend college while continuing to live at home?  Will they develop the independence that their classmates living on campus do?  What about the parents of college students living at home?  How will they cope with having an emerging adult in residence at home?  How can parents help their at-home college student to gain independence while still maintaining a household in which everyone is comfortable?

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How College Parents Can Help Their College Student Avoid Sophomore Slump

This is the second of two posts on the phenomenon of sophomore slump, the difficulty that many students experience during their second year of college.  In the first post we examined some of the reasons that students may encounter a slump.  In this post, we look specifically at some things that parents can do to help their students during this time.

Once our college students complete that tumultuous first year of college, they face their sophomore year and the changes that it brings.  As college parents, we can help our sophomore students by realizing that, for many students, the concept of sophomore slump really does exist.  Our sophomore students may need just as much support from home, even though that need may be less obvious.

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Will My College Student Experience A Sophomore Slump?

This is the first of two posts on the phenomenon of sophomore slump, the difficulty that many students experience during their second year of college.  In this post we will examine some of the reasons that students may encounter a slump.  In our next post, we’ll look specifically at some things that parents can do to help their students during this time.

College administrators and faculty, and college parents, place a lot of emphasis on the transition to college and the first-year experience.  We all know that these new college students, and their parents, will be undergoing a tremendous transition as they enter the world of college.  Colleges run orientation programs, offer special classes and seminars for first-year students, communicate directly with these new students with encouragement and reminders, and often have a “let it go” attitude when new students make mistakes or miss deadlines.

Once our college students complete that tumultuous first year of college, they face their sophomore year and the changes that it brings.  As college parents, we can help our sophomore students by realizing that the concept of sophomore slump really does exist.  Our sophomore students may need just as much support from home, even though that need may be less obvious.

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How Parents Can Help Make College Move-In Day A Success

After all of the months, and years, of preparing, it’s finally here!  As college move-in day approaches, parents recognize the reality of having their student actually head off to college.  Somehow, you know your student will eventually get packed, you will manage to fit everything in the car, and your student will finally end up settled in his room. But the process may seem daunting.

Move-in day will go more smoothly if you have prepared well at home.  You can help your student be organized about packing and preparing for the big move.  However, no matter how well prepared you are, move-in day will be a new experience for all of you.

Your student’s college may send you some information ahead of time, and they will probably do everything they can to help you navigate the day, but here are some suggestions that may help to make the day – and the transition – go more smoothly.

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