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.

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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!

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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.

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Who Is Advising My College Student About Academic Issues?

When your student heads off to college, you may worry that she will get lost in the crowd.  It is true that, even in a small college, your student will most likely be on her own more than she was in high school.  She will be making her own decisions (some good and possibly some not as good) and she will be responsible for her own academic path.  But, no matter how large the institution, she won’t be without help.  One major difference may be that she will need to seek that help, it won’t necessarily come looking for her. But the help will be there, and the wise student will take advantage of it.

One of the sources of help with academic decisions may be your student’s Academic Advisor.  The structure of the Academic Advising program may vary dramatically from institution to institution (there are many different models), but the basic principle is the same.  Each student is usually assigned a faculty or staff member who is there to give the student guidance in making academic decisions. The advisor may also help the student as he considers his personal, professional and educational goals.

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Why Summer Orientation Is Important for Your College Freshman

If your student’s college provides a summer orientation session for incoming students, your student should definitely plan to attend.  At many colleges summer orientation is mandatory, and for good reason.  Although your student has probably visited the campus during the selection process, perhaps multiple times, this may be your student’s first introduction to the college as an official student.  He will look at the school differently, he will be treated differently, and both he and the school may have different expectations than when he visited as an applicant.

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Undecided Students: How Can You Help? – Part 2

This is the second of two posts that consider students who enter college without declaring a major. In the first post, we considered reasons why your college student might feel undecided at the beginning of college. In this post we look at some ways in which you might help your student explore some options.

Once you’ve begun to think about why your student might be undecided about a major, you will recognize that the work of coming to a decision about a potential major will need to be done by your student.  But you may wonder whether there is anything that you can do to help and support him in the process.  The answer is yes!

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Undecided Students: Who Are They? – Part 1

This is the first of two posts which consider students who enter college without declaring a major.

Many students enter college undecided about their major.  Many students who enter college as undecided students worry that they are undecided.  Many students who enter college declaring a major are really undecided.

Some students may be unwilling, unable, or unready to make a choice of an area of study at the point when they enter college.  If she can see this as an opportunity, rather than a problem, your student will keep many doors open as she explores and gathers information during her first year.

As the parent of a college student you can help your student as he moves toward making what he may feel is one of the most important decisions in his life.  It may help if you try to understand why your student may be undecided and reassure him that beginning his college career as an undecided (or undeclared) major may be just fine.  (If it is the policy of your student’s school that he must declare a major when he enters, then you might remind him, even as he begins, that he will find that he may change his mind as he learns more about both his intended major and himself.)

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College Lingo for College Parents: Talk the Talk! – Part 4

We’ve written three earlier posts about some of the college vocabulary it might be helpful for you to know. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.   Here is a fourth installment.

Every profession, activity, or area of interest has its own jargon or set of specialized vocabulary.  College is no different.  College administrators, faculty members and students develop a set of short-hand terms that can be confusing to those not familiar with them.  As a college parent, you may be surprised at how quickly your college student will pick up the appropriate lingo.

If your college student slips into “college-speak” and you don’t understand what she is talking about – ask!  She may express impatience, but she’ll probably explain.  However, if you want to be able to at least begin to talk-the-talk, here are five more terms to get you started.  Please remember that there may be some variation in the use of these terms at various institutions.

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Parenting Your College Transfer Student: Supporting Your New Transfer Student

This is the third in a series of posts about the process of transferring to a new college.  Our first two posts considered the decision to transfer and the process of transferring.  This post looks at settling in to the new institution.

 A transfer to a new college is a fresh start.  Much like entering college as a new, first-year student, this fresh start can be both exciting and intimidating.  As a college parent, you can help your student make this adjustment smoothly.

Be supportive of your student as he goes through a transition period.  Help him be prepared for a time of adjustment.  Yes, he is familiar with college life, but his new college may be very different from his old institution.  He may feel out of place at first.  He will have an “in between” status for a while.  He is not a brand new freshman, but he is new and unfamiliar with things.  This will pass, but he needs to be prepared to give it some time.  He can’t assume that things will be done in the same way as they were in his old school.  Encourage him to ask questions often.

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Parenting Your College Transfer Student: Navigating the Transfer Process

In our last post, we considered some ways in which you might help your college student think about a transfer to another college.  Here, we consider how to help your student through the actual transfer process itself.  Our next post will examine ways in which you can support your new transfer student.

 Once your college student has made a decision to transfer to another college, there are some important tasks to be done.

Gather lots of information about potential colleges and/or programs.

 Your student may know exactly where he wants to transfer, or he may be looking for the appropriate school.  The more information he can gather, the more smoothly the process will go.  One advantage that your student now has is the knowledge he has gained through the time he has spent at his current school.  As he thinks about the reasons for transferring, he will think of questions he wants to be sure that he asks at the new school.  What are his priorities?  What wasn’t working (if anything) at the current school?  Encourage him to take time to look carefully at the new institution.  Study the website.  Visit the school.  Stay overnight on campus if possible.  Talk to current students.  Meet with admissions or advising personnel at the new school. Ask lots of questions.

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