Information for the parents of college students

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Book Review: The Gift of Failure

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey, is an important book, not only for parents of college-aged students, but to parents with younger children as well. This book highlights an essential, and often missing, element of today’s childhood – failure.  As the title suggests, allowing our children – whether they are toddlers or college students – to fail, as painful as that may be for us, can be one of the best gifts we can give them.

Lahey acknowledges that as students get older, the stakes get higher, and it becomes more difficult to watch them struggle and potentially fail at college essays, college courses, and job interviews.  The earlier the work can begin, the better.  But it is never too late.  It is difficult and sometimes frightening work for parents, but it is necessary.

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November 18, 2016   No Comments

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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November 14, 2016   No Comments

What Matters for Your Student’s Career?

We want our students to have good careers when they graduate.  We’ve worked hard to get them through their early years of school and to send them to college.  We are ready for them to launch.  But are they prepared?

For the most part, the answer is yes.  Students who take their college work seriously, who take advantage of opportunities and of resources available, graduate ready for their career.  The schools that our students attend, from kindergarten through high school and then college, work to give students the education that they need.  However, students and parents alike may be surprised to learn that some of the skills that benefit students the most in their careers are not learned in the classroom.

Parents can have a lasting influence on how their students learn the key skills that will help them succeed. Some recent studies have shed light on the importance of some of these “softer” skills. We think it’s important for parents to see this information so that they recognize the value of their influence.

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November 7, 2016   No Comments

College Parent News and Views

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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October 31, 2016   No Comments

The Delicate Balance of Support and Self-Reliance

So much of the college experience is about balance.  Students work at learning to balance social life and studying, independence and responsibility, seriousness and frivolity.  As parents, it is sometimes difficult to watch as our students practice the skill of balance – and sometimes fail.  But just as we had to finally take the training wheels off and let go of the bicycle, we need to step back and watch as our students take off.

One of the balancing acts that many students struggle with, especially at the midpoint in a semester, is the balance between self-sufficiency and relying on others.  New college students, especially, may need to learn that being independent doesn’t necessarily mean they need to do everything alone.  Knowing when to rely on themselves and when to turn to others is part of responsible decision making.

Why wouldn’t my student ask for help if he needs it?

There are many reasons why students may not seek the help they need when they need it.

  • “I didn’t realize that I needed help.”
  • “I’ve never needed help before, why would I need it now?”
  • “Things will get better if I just wait long enough.”
  • “I’ll look as though I’m dumb if I ask for help.”
  • “Isn’t it cheating if I get help?”

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October 24, 2016   1 Comment

College Parents Warned of Phone Scam – Don’t Be a Victim

The con artists are at it again.  But this time, it’s not college students who are the target, it’s their parents. This scam, a “virtual kidnapping” scam, has been around for a couple of years, with the FBI issuing warnings in January 2015,  but authorities are warning parents that it seems to be on the rise again in the past few months.  Several colleges in several states, including Arizona State University, George Mason University and the University of Texas at Arlington,  have issued warnings to parents.

As with so many scams, knowledge is power.  Being aware that this scam exists is the best first defense against becoming a victim.

In the “virtual kidnapping” scam, parents receive a phone call from a stranger who claims to have kidnapped their child.  Sometimes parents hear muffled screams or cries in the background. Someone who sounds much like their child may even get on the phone quickly, crying and begging them to pay whatever is asked.  Calls come from outside area codes, often 787 or 939 – Puerto Rican codes. The call may come from a blocked or private number.  The caller knows the child’s name and often many details as well.  These details are often gleaned from public information and/or social media sites.

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October 10, 2016   No Comments

When a Little Something Can Make Graduation a Reality

College completion rates in the United States are not what they should be.  It is an important national conversation.  According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the percentage of students who began college and completed a degree within six years is approximately 53%.  Just over half of those students who begin college finish – and that number is decreasing. It’s a growing problem and a growing national conversation.

Although we all need to be concerned about this number, and we all should part of that national conversation, if it is your student who can’t finish, knowing that there are many others also struggling isn’t much consolation. So although the big conversations and educational reforms are important, sometimes it is the small, personal actions that can make a difference.

More and more colleges and universities are recognizing that for many students, the barriers to completion- which may seem insurmountable at the time – are actually individual stumbling blocks that can be overcome with some help.  This is especially true for many first-generation and low-income students.  So schools are stepping in to help.

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October 3, 2016   No Comments

College Parent News and Views

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.
[Read more →]

September 30, 2016   No Comments

Don’t Let Your College Student Become a Target

Con artists have been around forever.  Scams have caught unwary victims before, and they will again. But it seems that one of the newest targets for these unsavory characters is college students, and often their parents as well.  Make sure you stay alert and talk to your student about being careful as well.

College students may be prime targets of scammers for several reasons.  They are busy and distracted, many don’t have much financial or tax experience, most don’t have extensive credit histories yet and/or don’t check them, and they spend much of their lives online.

What’s the latest threat?

According to the Internal Revenue Service, one of the most recent scams involves students receiving a phone call from someone impersonating an IRS official and demanding payment of a “federal student tax.”  The IRS wants to make it clear that there is no such tax.  But the caller claims that the student owes the tax and that he will call the local police to arrest the student if it is not paid.  If the student hangs up, there may be follow-up calls. Often, the caller has just enough information about the student, gleaned from public sources such as directory information, to make the call sound more legitimate.

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September 26, 2016   2 Comments

Your College Freshman’s Worldview – The Beloit Mindset

As parents of traditional college age children, we know that our children live in a different world than we did.  Intellectually, we know that the world changes – ever faster – and that our children have grown up with many different experiences.  Sometimes, however, we forget – or just plain don’t realize – how different that world truly is.

Each year Beloit College releases The Beloit College Mindset List. Since the list was first published in 1998, in addition to providing college professors a chuckle, it has also proved to be an eye-opening look at “the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college” that year.  The list was originated by Beloit professor Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief as a reminder to faculty members that many references used in class might be outdated, but it has become a much more comprehensive look at the worldview of current college students.

We include here, for your consideration, amusement and possible consternation, a few of the items that are true for current college students. These are taken from the last two Mindset lists. So if your student was born in 1997 or 1998, consider some of the following.  (You may view the entire lists, by year, at www.beloit.edu/mindset.)

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September 19, 2016   No Comments