Should My College Student Have a Car on Campus?

Cars.  Many of us spend a great deal of our time in them.  Our teenagers can’t wait until they can get their license and gain some independence.  Some surveys tell us that as many as 70% of college-age students own or have access to cars.  Cars have certainly become a part of the fabric of our lives.  But should they be part of the fabric of your college student’s life?  The answer is – it depends.

You and your student should think carefully about whether it is important for your student to have a car on campus.  Of course, it is possible that this may not be a decision that you will have to make during the first year.  More and more colleges are prohibiting first-year students from bringing cars to school.  Obviously, if your student is commuting to college then whether or not to have a car may not be an issue.  But many college families will need to give thought to the issue of whether or not to take a car to campus.

There are several reasons why many schools are telling their first-year students to leave their cars at home.

Read moreShould My College Student Have a Car on Campus?


What Is a College Articulation Agreement?

If your child is beginning college at a community college or other two year institution, you may hear college officials talk about having an Articulation Agreement with one or more four year institutions.  An Articulation Agreement is an officially approved agreement between two institutions, which allows a student to apply credits earned in specific programs at one institution toward advanced standing, entry or transfer into a specific program at the other institution.

Read moreWhat Is a College Articulation Agreement?


What Should My College Student Consider When Choosing a Schedule of Classes?

One very important task that each college student faces each semester is choosing his classes for the next semester.  It is exciting for students to consider the wide array of classes from which they may choose, but also intimidating to consider the implications of making the appropriate – or inappropriate choices.

As parents of college students, we may feel that we should have some input.  Discussing your college student’s class choices is always a good thing.  It will help you to understand your student’s interests and goals, and it may help your student to clarify his thinking as you talk about his decisions.  However, it is important to remember that it is your college student who will be taking the classes, and that he has, hopefully, made informed decisions in consultation with an Academic Advisor who understands college expectations and requirements.

Read moreWhat Should My College Student Consider When Choosing a Schedule of Classes?


It’s Final Exam Time: What’s a College Parent To Do?

Sometimes, it may seem as though one of the most difficult positions for a college parent to be in, is the situation when you know that your student is struggling and you feel as though you cannot do a lot to help.  Sometimes final exam period may feel like one of those times.  You can’t take the exams for your child.  You may be too far away to help him study (and you probably shouldn’t be doing that at this point anyway).  You know that your student is stressed, and exhausted, and you must simply stand back.

Actually, you may not be completely helpless.   There are several ways in which you might help at this final exam time.

Read moreIt’s Final Exam Time: What’s a College Parent To Do?


The College Catalog: Source of Information for Parents of College Students

The College Catalog or Course Catalog is an inclusive source of much of the important information that college students need for a successful college career.  Each school’s catalog is different, but most contain the essential information for students.  Some schools still publish a “hard copy” of the catalog and some schools publish their catalog in digital format only.  Most schools have their catalog available on their websites.

Why should college parents be interested in the college catalog?

Read moreThe College Catalog: Source of Information for Parents of College Students


Admissions Waitlist: Helping Your Student Cope with Limbo

Editor’s note: This post was updated in March 2017

The college application process is a stressful time for both students and their parents: making the list, college visits, narrowing down the choices, SAT or ACT exams, applications, essays, recommendations, and then – finally – your child may find that she has been put on the wait list for her first choice college. She has officially entered the limbo in which more and more students (perhaps as high as 10% of applicants) find themselves.  She is not in – but she hasn’t exactly been rejected either.  It is rather like trying to fly standby – you don’t have a seat on the plane yet, but there is a chance that you might get one.

It is discouraging, but all may not be lost.  There are some things that your “almost” college student should – and should not – do.

What is a wait list and how does it work?

First of all, understand the nature of a wait list.  Being placed on a wait list is not a rejection.  The college has said that your student is qualified for admission, but that they do not currently have a space for him.

The wait list is a pool of qualified students from which the college will draw if accepted applicants choose to go somewhere else. Some students may actually be overqualified, and the school is waiting to see whether they are accepted and choose to attend a more selective school.  The college doesn’t want to waste a spot in their accepted student pool on someone they assume will probably attend another college.  Other students may be slightly underqualified and are given a “courtesy” place on the waitlist as a softer form of rejection.  This may be especially true of students who are related to alumni or wealthy donors.

But most students on the waitlist are fully qualified to attend the school.  The waitlist becomes a safety net for the college if their “yield” (number of accepted students who make a deposit) is low.  As students today apply to more and more colleges, the yield may become more unpredictable.

Read moreAdmissions Waitlist: Helping Your Student Cope with Limbo


Should My Student Consider Taking a Gap Year Before Starting College?

If your student is considering taking a gap year, you should also read our post on deferring enrollment.

The majority of students move smoothly from high school to college.  College is the normal “next step” in the educational process.  For some students, however, that “next step” just doesn’t seem quite right, at least not just now.  It’s not that they don’t want to go to college, it is just that they may feel the need to do something before entering college.  For these students, a gap year may be the answer.

A gap year, sometimes called a year out, or year off, or bridging year, is a transition year, usually between high school and college, when the student takes time to do something else.  Although it is still the exception in the United States for students to take a gap year, it is a growing trend.  Some programs which target gap year students are seeing as much as 15-20% growth.  The National Association for College Admission Counseling has suggested that the practice of taking a gap year is on the rise.

Read moreShould My Student Consider Taking a Gap Year Before Starting College?


Should My Student Consider Deferring Enrollment for College?

Your “almost” college student has been accepted to college.  Congratulations!  That is cause for celebration – and probably some relief.  But your student isn’t sure that beginning college just now is the right thing for him.  Some students may decide to defer their enrollment for a year (or even two) after they have been accepted.  You may wonder what this means and how to go about it.

A student may decide to defer enrollment for any number of reasons.  He may wish to travel or study abroad, to work to earn money to pay for tuition, to take a year to pursue a sport or hobby.  The student may have health or family issues that need to be addressed, she may decide to take an extra, post-graduate year of study to increase skills or gain maturity, or the student may simply need a break from school in order to recharge and find focus.

Read moreShould My Student Consider Deferring Enrollment for College?


Sending Your College Student a Care Package

We’ve written a previous post about using the old fashioned technology of snail mail to reach out and let your student know that you are thinking of him.  We hope that you’re staying in touch often.  Sometimes, however, we like to make a bigger gesture.  Students always love receiving care packages from home.  The thought counts, but receiving presents – even small tokens – really brightens a student’s day!

Care packages are appropriate at any time of the semester.  In fact, a package that is unexpected is often a double bonus.  However, care packages may be especially appreciated at particular times.  Sometime during those first couple of weeks for new students is a time when a package may be especially meaningful.  This might also be a good time to include a small item or two that the student might have forgotten to pack in the first place. If there is a special event, such as a concert or award ceremony, in which your college student is participating, and you can’t be there, a care package may be appreciated.   Other times when students especially appreciate a package can be those particularly stressful times of midterm and final exams.  Something that might make your student smile, and think about home, will be meaningful.  And if it contains food, it will be appreciated all the more!

Read moreSending Your College Student a Care Package


Reach Out To Your College Student Through Good Old-fashioned Snail Mail

There are so many ways to communicate with your college student these days that it can be overwhelming.  Do you call, text, instant message, write on her facebook wall, skype, video conference, or twitter?  Technology today has allowed us to stay in touch with our students on a daily, or sometimes hourly basis.  A topic of a future post will be some of the thinking about the wisdom of staying too closely in touch, but this post isn’t about any of the technical wonders of communication.  It is about the old fashioned technology of the college mailbox.

Even with the array of technological advances for communication, most students are still assigned a college mailbox when they arrive at college.  Your student’s mailbox may be located in his residence hall, or may be located in a student center or college union.  One of the rituals of college life is still going to check that mailbox, if not daily, at least occasionally.  It is a great way to send a message to your college student in addition to whatever other means you usually use.

Read moreReach Out To Your College Student Through Good Old-fashioned Snail Mail