9 Conversations to Have with Your Parents Before Heading to College!

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Jun 09, 2015 @ 03:55 PM

“Can we talk?” These are the three words every teenager dreads hearing from their parents. But, it’s Having a chat with your parents before you head to college can mean the world to them!inevitable. You’re leaving the nest and heading off to college. Besides, your folks have put in 18 years of hard work. They’ve housed you, fed you, and clothed you. They’ve taken you to every little league practice, volleyball game, and band concert. They even took you to see One Direction and stayed for the concert. (Okay, I’m referring to myself right now, but you get the idea!)

College will be a big change for you and your parents. When you get to school, you’ll hit the ground running – new schedules, dealing with money, taking care of your health, no curfews, etc. Believe it or not, your parents have experienced a few of these things and actually do have some amazing college advice.

So surprise them with your maturity and initiate a few discussions over the summer. You can handle it. After all, you’re a high school graduate!  Here are a few starter points to help you get the conversation going.

1. Communication

Your parents are used to seeing you and talking to you every day. If you currently text them throughout the day now, they may expect that to continue. However, with your new schedule, it might not be a priority for you. Talk about how you plan to communicate. Will you respond to texts or calls every day or once a week? Set a day and time to FaceTime or Skype. Sometimes parents just need to see your smiling face. Have a chat about social media use as well. If your parents are on Facebook and Instagram, is it okay for them to comment on your activities? Be honest with them now about communication expectations.

2. Assistance

Talk to your parents about what sort of support you will need from them - financially, emotionally, and physically. If you’ve always relied on Mom and Dad to take care of things, including paying for everything, doing your laundry and cleaning your bathroom, how will you navigate this new territory on your own?

“Families should have some discussions about expectations for their student’s spending, behavior, and goals for academic success,” said Jeff Rickey, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for St. Lawrence University.

Michael R. Coombes, Director of New Student Programs for North Carolina State University, said parents often struggle with balancing how to support their child without complete reliance. Students should be encouraged to call their parents if they have issues, but they should not automatically expect answers to their problems.

“Finances can be a huge stressor,” added Coombes. “It’s important for students to realize the ultimate cost of education. It’s not just tuition. There’s the cost of eating, going out, books, club fees, clothing, groceries, transportation, etc. Costs add up very quickly.”

Coombes advises that parents be up front from the beginning about what they can contribute and what they expect their student to contribute. In addition, if parents provide an allowance, discuss expectations about how that money should be used. If it’s all spent on social activities and then there’s no money left for books, what are the consequences?

3. You’re Not in High School Anymore!3b_layingingrass_DSC05409-2-1

For four years, you went to class in the same building, had a lot of the same teachers, and your parents got your grades. You played a sport or joined a club and practices and meetings were held right after school.

Now, you have an entire campus to navigate. Larger classrooms with hundreds of students, different teaching styles, and classes located on opposite sides of a massive campus can make for some stressful adjustments. In addition, there are many more activities competing for your attention. From intramural teams and Greek life, to clubs and service organizations, you will have to make some decisions about what’s important to you regarding extra-curricular activities.

How are you going to handle it? Your parents know you well and can probably offer some great insight in how to deal with these new changes. And remember, in college your parents don’t automatically get to see your grades. Discuss now if you will grant them access.

4. Time Management

If you are coming from an environment where everything is very structured and someone is always telling you where to go, what to do, and when to do it, then one of the biggest changes you will face is time management. You will have to manage your time and learn to balance your life socially, emotionally, and academically. Talk to your parents about the best ways to responsibly enjoy your newfound freedom.

“Students have the freedom to go to class or not,” said Coombes. “They have complete control of what they do. It takes a while to really understand what that means.”

Remember your parents have been scheduling your life since you were old enough to join your first playgroup. They can offer great advice about setting up a schedule that works for you.

 5. Staying Healthy and Happy

Sure, it’s going to be great not having Mom nag you about eating your fruits and vegetables every day. However poor eating decisions combined with staying up late and not getting enough exercise, can wreak havoc with your health and energy levels. Talk to your parents about what you should do if you’re not feeling well and when to call a doctor. Do you know how and where to fill a prescription? Do you have a health insurance card in your wallet?

Now that you’re 18, school and health officials cannot share your information with your parents without your permission. Talk to them about what you should do if you are extremely sick or feeling depressed. They won’t be there to call the doctor. You will need to call and ask for help.

6. Newfound Freedom and Behavior

It may sound great to stay up all night and not worry about a curfew, but at some point you will have to set some limitations. Have an honest conversation with your parents about social life. Crazy as it may seem, your Mom and Dad were young once and probably have a few good stories to share. Ask for and listen to their advice about drinking, socializing, staying out late, checking in, campus safety, being out alone, etc. “It’s better to do it before rather than after something happens,” said Coombes.

Of course, some of these topics are not easy to discuss, but they are crucial conversations to have. Your parents need to know that you are aware of these issues and will know how to handle them if the situation arises.

7. Campus Safety & Emergencies

You’re at an age where you feel invincible, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions. Discuss how you plan to contact each other in case of emergencies. Your parents have protected you from the instant you were born and it’s hard to let go. Having a serious conversation about how you plan to stay safe and deal with different emergency and safety issues will help alleviate their fears and make you a street-smart savvy student.

8. Home for the Holidays

It’s important to discuss now whether or not you’ll be coming home for holiday breaks. If you can’t come home for breaks, what are your options?

“If students live far away from the college they are attending, they should already have a plan about when and how they will go home for the first time,” said Rickey.  “Will it be at mid-semester break, Thanksgiving, or winter break?  Will parents be coming to campus for family weekend? Knowing when they will see family again soothes the students.”

 9. Saying GoodbyeFemale_Resident_Move-In_Day

You know it’s going to happen. Your parents may get a little emotional when it’s time to say goodbye. We can’t help ourselves. We are excited for you and this next phase in your life. We don’t want to embarrass you (really!), but we may need a little help in moving on. Figure out now the best way to send your parents on their way after move-in day. Let them know you love them, but don’t want an emotional goodbye in front of your roommate.

Your relationship with your parents can remain constant in certain aspects, but as you embark on this new phase in your life, don’t be surprised if you notice a few changes. “This is a very unique time in a parent/student relationship,” said Coombes.

Take advantage of this time before school begins. Have a few heart to heart chats with your parents before you head to school. It will mean the world to them and believe it or not, it will mean the world to you too – one day!

Photo credits: Matt Siegel and Mississippi State University Public Affairs 

Also check out our post about the 15 Things You Should Do Before the First Day of College!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: college

15 Things To Do Before Your First Day of College!

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, May 19, 2015 @ 04:41 PM

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to college! All those long years of hard work have paid off. Now you can kick back, put your feet up and chill until the first day of your freshman year, right? WRONG!

There’s a lot to do between now and that first day of school and while your parents may have taken care of all the little details in the past, now it’s time for you to step up and take responsibility! We know this may be new for you and your parents, so here are a few tips to help you both make a smooth transition.

1. Confirm your enrollment and send in your deposit!

Yes, the letter said you got in, but there’s a lot more important information in that packet. Take some time and review it, as well as deadlines for requested information. In addition, check your e-mail often for any updates.

2. Check out your school’s website. 

Just about every school has a “New Student” section.  Read it now. There may be early deadlines for medical forms, registration for orientation, residence hall selection, and online awareness education programs, just to name a few. Don’t wait until the week before school begins to go through the list.

“In May, after all new students have made their deposits, they are given access to websites to help them learn about registration, complete their housing form, submit health forms, and learn about other helpful guides to promote their success,” said Jeff Rickey, Vice President and Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid for St. Lawrence University. 

Michael Coombes, director of North Carolina State University’s New Student Program, encourages parents and students to visit their school’s website often and double check the New Student Check List.  “The list is a roadmap of what to do between the time of when they get accepted and before they start classes. Take care of things early. The less you have to do in August, the better.”

3. Schedule your orientation session now. New_Student_Orientation_at_NC_State_University-1

The earlier you do it, the better. Don’t forget to book hotel rooms too. Depending on where you go to school, there may not be a lot of options for lodging. In addition, if your parents plan to bring you to school for move-in day and they need to stay overnight, make those reservations now too.

Parents are encouraged to attend orientation. It’s a great way to support students with their transition to school. “Orientation can give parents a basic knowledge of what their student is going to experience,” said Coombes. “It helps parents understand the environment, as well as the different resources available to the students.”

4. Get Connected!

It can all start with #. Take some time to get connected to your new school.  There are so many options and social media is a great place to begin. “After students are admitted they are encouraged to join their class social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” said Rickey.

In addition, different groups for your major, your residence hall, or clubs, etc., may have their own social media presence. At NC State, #NCState19 is used for new students to find each other, learn about different events, and follow relevant information. When students come to orientation or the start of the semester, they already have a certain comfort level because #NCState19 started the conversation.

“Often, it’s the students who create these connections on their own,” said Coombes. “It stems from what students want. They are forming smaller connections. It makes the students feel they are a part of the community, a part of their new home.”

5. Sign up for housing.

Residence halls fill up fast. Make sure you get your assignment as soon as possible. Social media is a great way to learn about different housing options, get insight from upperclassmen, and even research creative decorating ideas. Check out YouTube for virtual tours! It’s also a great way to find or get to know your future roommate! Once you have your roommate assignment, Rickey recommends making contact as soon as possible.

6. Look for First Year Send-Off parties.

Many universities have alumni chapters or parent association groups that host get-togethers in local cities for new students to meet each other, as well as meet returning students or alumni. It’s a great way for parents to connect as well. “This bridges the connection to their new school and makes them feel they are part of the community,” said Coombes. “It gets them excited about what they are doing.”

7. Keep your brain active.

“After high school graduation, students should read,” said Rickey. “Reading promotes better reading - a skill that is paramount in college – and promotes better writing, too, another vital skill.”

Many universities now have a common reading program. A book is chosen for everyone to read over the summer. “It connects the students to the intellectual environment,” said Coombes. “When they come to campus, they can hear the author of the book speak. They participate in programs and discussions. Students can have conversations and think critically about themes in the book. We have one common experience. It keeps their mind fresh.”

Coombes also suggests that students familiarize themselves with the university’s academic resources before they get to school. “If students know they are there, they are more apt to use them.”

8. Think about how you want to engage in your campus when you get there.St._Lawrence_Orientation

“Engagement is vital to their success,” said Coombes. “Take a look at your university and what you want out of it. Think about ways to engage in your new community, whether it’s in a sorority or fraternity, a club, studying abroad, or service learning. Ask yourself who you are going to be and how are you going to act. Think critically about your behavior.”

“College is an opportunity for a student to reinvent herself or himself,” said Rickey. “If a student has a bad habit, she or he wants to break, then now is the time. One way to ease the college transition is to be open-minded and to be interested in everyone and everything. Just about everyone is looking for new friends!”

9. Look for opportunities to be independent.

Get a part time job for the summer or look for opportunities to volunteer in your community. If you don’t have one already, set up a checking account and talk to your parents about financial responsibility and spending behavior, as well as how to use a debit card or credit card wisely. Do your own laundry!

“Students who have not experienced some independence before coming to college sometimes have challenges dealing with the freedom and responsibility that comes with attending college,” said Rickey. “Parents would do well to promote or create opportunities for their high schoolers to exercise some independence and have them learn the joys, challenges, and lessons that stem from doing things themselves.”

10. Attend Welcome Week.

Look for events that might help you adapt to your new environment and meet other new students. Welcome Week is geared for new students and usually takes place the week before classes begin. NC State also has a Summer Start program, a Symposium, and an Outward Bound trip. “It’s a great way to connect to the institution and build a small community within a huge campus,” said Coombes.

11. Don’t wait to pack!

You would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t!) at how many students wait until the night before to pack. Think about what you need for the semester. Keep a running list over the summer and start putting things aside. Give yourself time to go through everything again before you leave.

12. Go for a walk.

During Orientation, Welcome Week, and before your first day of classes, walk the campus. Go to each classroom and see how long it takes to get from class to class. Become familiar with your surroundings. Coombes said many students admit they wished they had looked at a map of the campus and walked it before classes began.

13. Don’t do anything you’ll regret. 

Every university has a code of conduct and your admission is not guaranteed. “We expect students to continue performing at the level at which they were admitted,” said Rickey.  “We have rescinded our offer of admission when the student has underperformed. We have also rescinded admission for criminal offenses that occurred after our offer of admission.”

14. Have some conversations. 

Don’t wait till the week before drop-off to talk with your parents. Have conversations throughout the summer about expectations about grades, finances, privacy, communication, behavior, etc. Also talk about whether parents will have access to grades and financial information.

15. Have fun! 

Make time to get together with family and friends this summer. Celebrate your accomplishments and share the excitement of your future at college!

Photo credits:  Tara Freeman, St. Lawrence University,  and Blaise Bolemon, New Student Programs, NC State University.  

Topics: back to school, college, College advice

9 Tips to Help Plan a Successful Campus Fundraiser

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 12:14 PM

While we all know college can cost a lot of money, let’s face it – students themselves don’t necessarily have a lot of disposable income, especially for campus fundraisers. Many students may need to work multiple jobs to pay for tuition, or they might be living on a tight budget.  In addition, there are a lot of  “extra-curriculars” competing for their dollars!

Funding is competitive on campus. While volunteering within your school community is truly important, there are still expenses like transportation, supplies, etc., in addition to raising funds for a cause or service event. If you want your club or service organization to succeed, you need to raise money. Planning a fundraiser on campus takes discipline, creativity, and solid communication skills. If you need to increase your funding, check out these tips from experienced student fundraisers to organize your next event.

1. Form a committee and get organized. 

Find out who’s interested in planning your club’s fundraiser. Know your members’ talents and make use of their expertise. Discuss your budget, time frame, and goals. “We have a Vice President of Philanthropy and her committee plans and organizes each event we put on,” said Isa Brooks, a member of the Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) sorority at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Brooks, a junior, serves as Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for the sorority. She said AXO also has an Executive Board that is dedicated to the planning stages, as well as the overall execution of events.

2. Get Permission!

Before you commit a lot of time and resources to your event, make sure you have permission from your organization’s governing board, as well as the appropriate university department. Get it in writing! In addition, check your school’s calendar to make sure you aren’t competing with other clubs for funds and attendance.

3. Be specific in your communications. 

Clearly explain why you are raising money and how the funds will be used. Alpha Chi Omega raises money annually for Domestic Violence Solutions, a local women's center in Santa Barbara. “We have two main events during the year,” said Brooks. “Both involve getting the Greek and the larger UCSB community together to fundraise for the women's center, as well as bring about awareness.”

4. Be Professional.10984714_10153169825364388_789415289_n

“You are fundraising for a worthy cause,” said Jane Berry, a junior at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Berry is one of three fundraising and development coordinators for the Waltham Group, the umbrella community service organization for the university.

“You should believe in and care about your project,” said Berry. However, just because you care, doesn’t always mean that everyone else will. Berry cautions that as a college student, you may not automatically receive the respect or attention of companies, partners, and volunteers. “They make take one look at you or your email address and decide it’s not worth it.”

To make a good impression when fundraising in public, Berry suggests team members wear similar outfits to show you are part of a specific group. By looking professional and a part of a team, faculty and students are more likely to stop and talk for a few seconds. This could be a club t-shirt or maybe a solid color shirt and dark pants. Berry advises not to wear anything too crazy. You don’t want to scare away shy freshmen!

While it’s easy to remember to be professional in person, Berry acknowledged students might forget to do so when making phone calls and sending e-mails. “My team’s solution for this was to make scripts for all the different types of phone calls we make and emails we send and sort them into Google Docs folders based on each fundraiser.”

5. Always get a name, title and phone number.

“No matter who you are talking to or what you are asking for, make sure to get their name and position,” said Berry. “When we run our annual holiday auction at school, it’s essential to know exactly who within a company has guaranteed us what. It also applies to smaller fundraisers when you just want to know your contact.”

6. Make sure everyone is on the same page – literally!

As mentioned previously, Berry’s team puts everything on Gmail and Google Docs. Using the same account allows them to see each email sent. “It looks professional with the uniform signature and the docs don't get lost through email,” said Berry.

7. Be proactive with your marketing and create a buzz about your event.10967814_10153169825339388_1018867664_n

Social media is one of the easiest ways to reach out to potential donors, but it shouldn’t be the only avenue used. AXO works with local businesses and donors by sending out newsletters about their philanthropy. “We try to start fundraising as early as possible,” said Brooks. “We also try to create innovative ways to create a buzz about our events in our own Greek community by tabling, making announcements to other sororities and fraternities on campus, and holding fundraising events at restaurants in our student neighborhood.”

Brooks stressed that creativity is key and emphasized the importance of engaging the community during fundraising campaigns. “We usually create competitions within the Greek community at our sponsoring restaurants.”

Berry advised to do anything and everything to get students interested. “If people don’t know about your fundraiser, no one is coming,” she said. “Write in chalk on the sidewalks in heavy traffic areas, put up flyers with catchy slogans, send out campus-wide e-mails, and post incessantly on social media.”

While students lead busy lives and may not go out of their way to part with their money, if they know about your cause, they may at least be curious to learn more about what you’re doing. Plus, if your information table is positioned along their daily route, they may just stop to see what all the excitement is about.

8. Address a student need.brandeis

If you address a specific need, students may be more willing to give freely with the added bonus of helping others! “If we throw an event involving food, then students love to participate,” said Brooks. “Our Pizza Pie with Alpha Chi event is a favorite. The community comes to our house and they design their own mini pizza. All proceeds go to our local women’s shelter.”

Berry said her most successful fundraisers have been holiday silent auctions, which also appeal to teachers and staff; a Valentine’s Day roses sale; and late-night food delivery service. 

“I was actually truly surprised at how many fellas stepped up and got their girls red roses,” said Berry. “The convenience of having them on campus really drew people in. Students love grilled cheese delivered right to their door, especially if you’re open late!”

9. Communicate progress and success!

It’s important to maintain a good relationship with all of your donors. Share your progress throughout the campaign via social media and on campus through tables, signage, etc. When your event is over, let everyone know the results and how their support will benefit others. Make sure to let your donors and sponsors know how much you appreciate their assistance. Send out thank you messages via social media, e-mail, and newsletters. If possible get a quote or picture from the organization that received the funds.

Raising money isn’t easy, but with preparation, organization, and a little creativity, you can make your fundraiser a success. Do you have a few more tips that worked for your club? Share them with our readers!

 

Photos courtesy of UCSB chapter of Alpha Chi Omega and the Waltham Group at Brandeis University.

 

 

 

 

Topics: college, fundraising, campus fundraiser

College Move-In Day - A Major Milestone for Students and Parents

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 @ 02:52 PM

In a matter of days, you’ll hear the collective sighs of mothers around the country saying goodbye to their college bound students. You may also hear a few whoops and hollers from the students as their parents drive away!Mom_+_Daughter_Move-In_Day

This is a major milestone for parents and students. As parents, we are excited for our children and the road ahead, but it also signals the end of an era for us. For students, it means newfound freedom and the beginning of an amazing journey. While most won’t admit it, they probably are a bit anxious about leaving the security of home, as well as free laundry services and clean bathrooms.

So imagine combining all of your emotional baggage with plastic bins, luggage, and small appliances. Now Female_Resident_Move-In_Dayadd in traffic, minimal parking, August weather, and if you’re lucky two elevators – that is college move-in day! Don’t worry. In the right frame of mind and a little preparation, you’ll get through it just fine. Here are few tips from Residence Hall experts and parents that have survived the freshmen day move in!

Before You Go

If your child is like mine and hasn’t looked at any of the literature about move-in day, then enjoy taking charge one last time! Go to the university’s residence life website where you can find all the details about move-in day.

“We encourage students first to take a look at the “Move-In Checklist” and our “Policies and Procedures” on our website,” said Dr. Ann Bailey, Director of Housing for Mississippi State University. “This list not only includes a list of items students may need, but also includes items that are not allowed in our residence halls.”

University of Pittsburgh’sArrival Survival” details everything from before you leave home to after you’ve moved in. They even have a twitter handle just for the big event.

Residence Housing websites provide information about each residence hall, including what basic items come with the room. Some schools provide or rent the mini-fridge and microwave. Note that many rooms use extra long mattresses – meaning your sheets from home may not fit! You can also get measurements to determine if there’s space for additional items like beanbag chairs, extra storage units, etc. You don’t want to waste time and money buying and packing items that may never be used.

Leave things like heaters, toasters, hotplates, Panini presses, rope lights, wireless routers, and halogen lights at home. “Anything with open heat sources aren’t allowed due to fire hazards,” said Samantha Noblit, residence director for the University of Pittsburgh. “Halogen light bulbs are typically not allowed as they can get very hot and start fires.”

Once you’ve figured what your student needs, make a list of items they use at home – toiletries, kitchen supplies, laundry, etc. This will give them an idea of what they will need to bring and determine how to store it.

It’s the Little Things

Don’t forget miscellaneous things like a garbage can, hangers, and a first aid kit. Shower curtains and tension rods come in handy for additional privacy in suite-style bathrooms. Anne Garraway, a mom with two students at Mississippi State, said to consider purchasing a good mattress pad/foam pad to make the bed more comfortable, as well as a little fan in case roommates don't agree on temperature.

According to Noblit, shower caddies and flip-flops are some of the most used items. “Communal showers are an adjustment for students, but shower caddies allow them to be able to put all of their toiletry items in one easy transportable basket.”

Noblit also suggests students bring pictures, decorations, or anything else that can make their room feel more like home. She advises bringing an alarm clock even though many students use cellular devices for this purpose. “Sometimes batteries die in the middle of the night and parents aren’t knocking on their door!”

Consider waiting a few weeks on items like an iron. “Many times, one student on the floor will have them and they can share with others,” said Noblit. She also said televisions and printers are on the decline, especially with the rise of streaming television sites and more professors accepting assignments via email or other online systems. Most residence halls have student lounges with TVs for public use.

Talk Before You BuyDr._Keenum_Move-In_Day

Michele White, a mother of two college graduates and a senior at the University of Louisville, advises students to talk to their roommate(s) before they purchase anything. Decide beforehand what common items they will each contribute. “You don't want two refrigerators and two TVs,” said White.

 Should you buy here or there?

Some parents suggest buying supplies in your hometown before you go. “It can be difficult to shop in college towns,” said Garraway. “They run out of everything on move-in weekend.”

However, if you want the full experience, a trip to the university’s local Wal-Mart or Target with everyone else on move-in day can be a fun and memorable event!

Another option to is to purchase items at big box stores online or in your home state and then have them delivered to the local store near the university.

Get Packing

It’s important to have everything in manageable bins, suitcases, etc. Misc. grocery bags of items are sure to rip, or fall over emptying your nice clean linens on the ground. 

“Label all of your personal belongings with your first and last name, room number (include wing/floor, if applicable), and only bring essentials on that first day,” said Bailey. “Then, be aware for the next few days of items you want/have room for and either take a trip home or go to a local store to purchase them.”

“There is no use to pack a bunch of oversized winter coats if you are coming home in a month,” said Noblit. “There isn’t a lot of storage in your residence hall room, so being mindful of the seasons will be important in fitting everything.”

Checking In

Move-in day is usually staggered by dorms, floors, etc., to ease traffic and parking. When you get there,your student will check in to receive his dorm keys. Once we pulled up to my son’s residence hall, there were at least four volunteers ready to take his belongings straight to his room. The van was unloaded within minutes. His residence hall did not have elevators, so we were extremely appreciative of the help to the third floor! Even if your student’s residence hall does have elevators, expect a wait or use the time to get your cardio by taking the stairs!

Saying Goodbye

Once you’re all moved in, schools may have complimentary refreshments. LSU offered banana splits – encouraging parents to “split!” MS State had a “Blues Breakfast” the morning after move-in.

Gwen House Hymel, a mother of one college graduate, a junior at Baton Rouge Community College and a sophomore at University of Louisiana at Lafayette advises to make the goodbyes short and quick. seeyoulater“I did it and had a good cry on the way home.  My kids said I took it well and they weren’t worried about me! It made them feel better about moving on.”

For Hymel each goodbye was different. With one, they agreed to just say “see ya soon!” With another, the best farewell was a long hug and a few words of encouragement. Her youngest just gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her he would be fine.

“We encourage families to say ‘see you later,’” said Bailey.

Noblit said the best way to say goodbye is to hug your child, tell them you love them, make a plan for communication, and a plan for their next visit home. “Making a plan for their next visit home puts a slight moratorium on “empty nest syndrome” and gives each of you something to look forward to.”

We want to hear about your move-in day experience. Make sure to send pictures!

 

photo credits: MSU Public Affairs & Dolly Duplantier

 

 

Topics: back to school, parents, higher education, college, College advice, residence halls, College move-in day

Students Should Take Advantage of All College Has to Offer

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 02:59 PM

There are many words I would prefer my children not use (even though they’ve heard a few of them at home!). However, there are three words I hope I never hear them say - "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda!" (Okay, technically those aren’t words, but I’m sure you get my meaning.)

As my children begin their college years, I want them to take advantage of everything this time in their life has to offer. It’s not just about getting your money’s worth – although that’s an important lesson – whether you are paying tuition or your kids are taking out loans. This is the time to take risks. Try new things. Meet new people. Step out of your comfort zone.

There are many things I wish I had done during my college years (and maybe a few I wish I had not done!). I wish I had developed more of a relationship with teachers and sought their advice. I also wish I had taken more advantage of clubs, school organizations, and service work, but I let self-doubt and fear prevent me from taking those risks. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with my life. I had a wonderful college experience. Hindsight is 20/20. Things happen for a reason, but I don’t want my kids to have regrets about not taking chances. Four years (or maybe five or six!) go by very quickly. It’s a great time of life to discover who you are, find friends with different opinions and passions, and transition from child to adult. So, as my second son begins this new phase, I’ve consulted the highest authorities – nostalgic parents, friends, and recent college graduates to offer their words of wisdom. Will he listen? I honestly don’t know. Maybe, though, these pearls of wisdom will remain in the back of his mind when an opportunity presents itself. And, instead of looking the other way because it might require effort and risk, he might just hear that little voice of mine and decide to go for it.

So, here’s a quick list for college students to consider as they get ready for school. If those of us that have graduated could go back, these are the things we would do differently! 

Wish Lists from the "Woulda Coulda Shoulda’s"lsutiger_stadium

1. I wish I had gone to more events...ballgames, rallies, etc.

2. I wish I had served on a student government board.

3. I wish I had spent more time meeting individually with professors to pick their brains. I view it as a missed opportunity.

4. I wish I had done more volunteering.

5. I wish I had joined an Engineering club.

6. Sometimes, I wish I had gone to school out of town.

7. I wish I had taken my undergraduate studies more seriously.

8. I wish I had understood that it wasn't about the points to get a certain grade, but that it should have been about really learning. Graduate school was a rude awakening.

9. I wish I had gone to college with a more open mind and not a specific major.

10. I wish I had switched majors.

11. I wish I had traveled abroad.

12. I wish I had gone to the Bruce Springsteen concert rather than study for an anatomy test. (Okay, I’m not advocating choosing a concert over studying. However, every student needs to take a break once in a while. It’s good to recharge! And, no, this wasn’t me.)

10 Suggestions from current students, teachers and alums:

1. Go to Class!

2. Get out there and enjoy it all. Take it seriously and always do your best.

3. Sign up for a club.

4. Utilize resources available on campus, including services like writing centers and tutoring.10264317_10152504222274744_8343547831175655741_n

5. Volunteer on campus or at local organizations. Take time to help others.

6. Develop a good relationship with your professors. They can be great mentors. Take advantage of their office hours. You want the people who determine your grades to know your name and that you're working hard. They can also clarify course material, provide guidance on papers, and offer tips on how to prepare for tests.

7. Study abroad for a full year. (If a year is too long for you, consider studying abroad for one semester, the summer, or holiday breaks.)

8. Take computer classes even if they are not required for your major.

9. Get to know the history and traditions of your school.

10. Reach out and meet new people.

What are your suggestions and tips for incoming freshmen and current college students? Did we miss anything? Share your words of wisdom here!

 

 Photo credit: Dolly Duplantier & Delta Upsilon, Global Service Initiative Trip 

Topics: back to school, education, volunteering, higher ed, service, graduates, opportunities, college major, higher education, college, involvement, College advice

Orientation Helps Students and Parents Transition to College Life

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

All around the country, high school graduates are packing their overnight bags for college orientation. When I was a freshman, back in the dark ages, orientation took place just a few days before you began school. Universities now have new students choose from two or three day sessions beginning as early as March and continuing until the start of the Fall semester.

Orientation is not just for students! Parents are now encouraged to attend to learn about the university, as well as obtain a comfort level about sending their children away to school. Sessions address concerns about managing time, dining plans, housing and residence issues, academic advising, financial aid and money matters, safety, and being away from home.

orientation

“Orientation is important for students and parents, especially for freshmen,” said Lindsey Storey, director of orientation and events at Mississippi State University (MSU)  in Starkville. “They’re coming out of high school and it’s hard for parents to let go. We want the students excited to come back in August and we want the parents to feel good and confident about sending their students to MSU. Our goal is to help parents and students transition to a new chapter in their lives.”

“I felt that orientation got me even more excited about college and I loved hearing about the experiences of the older college students,” said Kate Rosamond, an incoming freshman at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge

“Every kid has something that they may be nervous about,” said Storey. “We want to alleviate that stress, fear, or doubt. For the student that is really excited, we want to reassure them they made the right decision.”

Orientation provides students a chance to get adjusted to the campus and learn their way around before it’s packed with undergraduate and graduate students. At some schools, students have the option of staying on campus to get a true higher education experience.

Orientation Leadersgroup_pic

Parents and students attend some general sessions together and then students are separated into smaller groups for more intimate Q&A sessions. Group leaders are college students and usually go through a rigorous interview process and training. At MSU, they are competitively selected from among a student body of 20,000. A concentrated course prepares them to lead tours, sessions, and answer questions.

During breakout sessions, students are taken around campus and may complete tasks like getting student ID’s, a campus mailbox, or signing up for the school’s recreation center. Orientation leaders also discuss college living, student involvement, the surrounding community, and student life in general.

“I learned a lot from the group leaders,” said Jeremy Siegel, an incoming freshman at MSU. “They stressed that in addition to academics and going to class, it was also really important to get involved and be a part of something at school.”

Orientation is also a great opportunity to meet future classmates. So when they return for move-in day in August, students can reconnect or at least recognize a few friendly faces.

Most orientations will offer sessions geared for specific majors. Academic officials will address expectations and requirements for particular areas of study. If the school has a band or other performing arts, your student may be able to try-out during orientation.

Class Schedule

One of the greatest benefits for students to attend orientation is the opportunity to schedule classes in advance. Rosamond agreed. “The most important thing I learned at orientation was how to schedule my classes.”

Counselors are on site to help students go through the registration process and answer any questions. Parents are usually not allowed into these sessions, so, if you’re like me and can’t help yourself, have a brief discussion about the following topics before they sign up for classes.

Think Before You Schedule!

1. Not an early bird? Don’t schedule classes at 8 a.m.

2. Don’t schedule classes 10 minutes apart if they are on opposite ends of the campus!

3. If your student wants to work part time, try to leave some blocks of time on the schedule for work and study time.

4. Look at required courses for their major. Are the classes offered during Fall and Spring semesters or only once a year? Take that into consideration.

5. Some courses require pre-requisite classes. Again, see if these are offered during both semesters.

 Dining, Entertainment & Getting Involved

Whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, at least one of your meals will be at a campus dining facility. This is a fun occasion for parents to see what their kids will be eating during the semester!

Evenings usually include informal dining and activities. This is a great way for parents and students to end the day and talk about what they each experienced. MSU holds their dinner in the stadium club of the Davis Wade Stadium. The evening festivities concluded with a movie shown on the scoreboard. Some schools have late night activities like carnival games and inflatable obstacle courses to get the kids to interact. Others may host informational fairs where students and parents can speak with representatives from a variety of university departments or student-led organizations and clubs to learn more about campus services, how to get involved in school, or how to volunteer within the community.  

Q&A – Expert Advice

The last day usually includes a Q&A session with representatives from specific departments like housing, dining, financial aid, and health services. Some schools include panels of current university parents who can address the concerns new parents may have about sending their kids to school for the first time.

Dorm Life

Many schools offer dorm tours, so you can get a sneak peek at what you might need to bring on move-in day. If tours are not available, check the school’s housing website or their Facebook page for virtual tours of dorm rooms. Some schools and students post videos on YouTube as well.

Get the Picture?

For parents, especially those out-of-state, orientation is a comforting way to form a mental picture of where your student will be. As much as you may want to text or call throughout the day, it's time to cut the cord – or at least loosen it a little! Orientation makes it easier to do so.

“I am so glad that I went to orientation,” said Kate’s mom, Mary Frances Rosamond. “It answered a lot of questions for me and made me a lot more comfortable about sending Kate there. I also had a lot of fun.”  

Kate felt the same way. “The sessions definitely made me feel more comfortable about entering college this year. I learned so much useful information about how to get ready for school.”

“Parents want their student to be happy,” said Storey. “When they see their kids excited, that gives them a good feeling. Parents should walk away feeling they are making a good investment, and that their children are going to be safe and happy.”

 

Photos: Mississippi State University, Matt Siegel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: college admissions, higher education, college, college visits, highered, Orientation

Going on Tour – The College Visit: 15 Questions to Ask

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Thu, May 01, 2014 @ 11:47 AM

In part three of our series about college visits, we share questions to ask and tips to make it a memorable day.

 A Mother’s Confession – My husband and I had a far better time on the college tours than my son did. That may have been because with every question I asked, he sank deeper and deeper into his chair! Even though you may be thrilled about the next stage in your child’s life, don’t be surprised if your student isn’t as motivated as you are about these visits.

However, this is the time to ask important questions – for you and for your child.  Whether you’re footing the bill, or your student is taking out loans, it’s a costly venture. Don’t be shy about getting as much information as possible. 

In the Beginning

College tours usually begin with a general presentation in a classroom or lecture hallUniversity of Tampa on campus. If your child is not one to appreciate your eager quest for knowledge, tell him or her to sit in the back and pretend they don’t know you. Many of your basic questions will probably be addressed in this presentation. However, I always had to raise my hand. I just couldn’t help myself. Whether it was about campus security, alcohol awareness, support for out-of-state students, or just some question that my son thought was totally lame, I needed answers to calm my parental anxiety. I think it was part of the process of letting go. I never let his embarrassment bother me. I embraced it.

After the general presentation, you will be assigned to a tour guide – usually a college student.
Depending on how groups are arranged, you could ask for a student with interests similar to those of your child. That way, you can ask specific questions as you walk through campus. The tour will usually hit the highlights of the university – a few specific buildings where classes are held, the university center, the library, the quad or field where students hang out between classes, the bookstore, maybe the recreational center, and finally at least one dorm or dining hall.

You won’t see everything the school has to offer on your tour. However, use this opportunity to ask to see things “not” on the tour. For example, if your child is a swimmer, ask to see the pool, or meet with a coach. If your future college student excels in a particular subject, ask if there’s a chance you can meet with teachers or sit in on a class.

My son was interested in playing club water polo at LSU. He contacted the club's president via e-mail. While we weren’t able to meet with him that day, we were able to visit where they practiced and played - venues not on the scheduled tour.

“The better my visit was, the more I wanted to go there,” said Jane Berry, a sophomore at Brandeis University. “Whether it was the information session, or the person who gave the tour, I think it drastically impacted what I eventually ended up deciding.”

Christine Scalise, a Chicago mother of three teenage boys, agrees. She found her tour of the University of Tampa welcoming and very informative. “Going on tour and seeing the school helped make the decision.”

Reading Assignments

As you walk through campus, take note of the many school publications, flyers, etc. This is great material to review when you are waiting to meet with counselors, financial aid, or while you’re taking a coffee break. It’s also great information to look through when you return home.

“We took all relevant brochures and we picked up campus newspapers,” said Terri Stuckey, a mother of two college students and a high school junior.  “You can learn a lot from the campus publications. They provide insight into what the kids are talking about or what the campus is like. Even the ads can give you a snapshot of what life is like at school.”

Charles Basden, Jr., coordinator, special projects, for George Washington University, a member of the NobleHour Network, also suggests looking at local publications near the school, as well as relevant academic publications to gauge how the school's reputation is relative to the greater population in the city.

Take A Good Look

Encourage your son or daughter to actually look at the university students. Do they seem happy and engaged? Are they polite and informative? Give your kids time to speak with students on their own. Interaction with them can provide a wealth of information. 

Katie McKnight brought her daughter, Ellie, and two of her friends to visit William & Mary.college tours Once the girls finished their interviews and had lunch, she told them it was time for them to explore - without her! 

Dr. McKnight is a college professor of secondary education/literacy for National Louis University in Chicago. "I think it's important for students to explore a campus on their own without parents hovering over them at all times. They need to talk to other students, listen to the campus, and observe. My daughter, not me, needs to decide if a particular college is the right fit."

Mom Tips

Whether your future college student is excited or not, embrace the day. Yes, it’s about them, but it’s about you too. You’ve put in a long 16-18 years raising this wonderful teenager. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy this occasion.

No matter what your teenager says or does, just smile at them with that, “I love you and am so proud of you look.” They can’t compete with that. But, remember, even though it’s exciting, it’s still stressful for them. 

Next, wear comfortable shoes, and bring the following:

1. Sweater or sweatshirt

2. Small backpack or bag

3. Bottle of water

4. Pen and small notebook

5. Camera

6. Umbrella

7. Sunscreen

You could be on your feet for an hour or two depending on the size of the campus. Some larger universities may have shuttles, but you will still need to walk between certain areas. Remember, especially for southern schools – it may be warm and sunny outside, but airconditioning inside can feel like a walk-in cooler. You can freeze just waiting for the presentation to begin. A bottle of water comes in handy when you can’t leave the group to get something to drink.

Stash some sunscreen, a hat and even an umbrella in the car. The bookstore usually sells inexpensive rain ponchos if you get caught in a sudden storm. Be prepared for any weather. You spent a lot of money getting there and the tour goes on no matter what.  Don’t forget that this is really a wonderful milestone in your child’s life and yours. Take some pictures!

“It was good to have that one-on-one time,” said Scalise. “We could really discuss the pros and cons of going away. It helps the kids know what to do and it’s very comforting to the parents as well."

Relax. It’s Just A Few Questions!

The one thing I learned about my son is that he doesn’t like to ask questions. And, he doesn’t like his mother to do it either. If your child is embarrassed by your thoughtful and intelligent questions, seize the opportunity to tell them what they often tell you – “Relax!”  Assure them that no one at orientation will say – “Oh, you’re that boy with the mom who asked all the silly questions on the tour!”

So here’s a sampling of the questions that made my son cringe and move to the back row. 

1. How hard is it to get the classes you want? For example, if you need to take specific classes to graduate – are they only offered in the spring? If this is the case, and you can’t get in to the class, it may take you longer to graduate.

2. How big are the classes? Ask different students how many kids are in their largesst class and how many are in their smallest class.

3. What percentages of courses do professors teach versus teaching assistants? It’s normal for some classes or labs to be taught by TA’s, but when you’re shelling out all that tuition money or your child is taking on huge loans, you don’t want all of their classes taught by TA’s.

4. What is the student to professor ratio?

5. Ask about the student population – percentage of males vs. females, locals vs. out-of-state, diversity, etc.

6. What sort of transportation do they offer if your student does not have a car?

7. How many years of on-campus housing are guaranteed? Is it required?

8. When are scholarship deadlines?

9. What is the acceptance rate?

10. What are the school’s campus safety initiatives? What measures do they take regarding safety, weather emergencies, etc.?

11. Do they have an alert system? Many schools now have text alert systems. 

12. Ask about the facilities. What types of services do they offer – health center, recreation center, counseling, etc.?

13. Do they require alcohol/drug awareness seminars?

14. Do they offer career services?

15. What will be the return on investment by going to your school?

My last tip – when the tour is over, have your teenager remove her headphones and do your best to engage her in a conversation about what she liked and didn't like.

McKnight's daughter surprised her. Despite their visits to Dartmouth, Emory, and William & Mary, Ellie decided to attend Brandeis University, a school they did not visit until she was admitted and had already accepted the offer. McKnight asked Ellie if she was sure she wanted to accept before visiting the campus. "Yes," said Ellie. "I've been researching, visiting, and learning about colleges for the last year. I know what I want and even though I haven't visited Brandeis, it has what I want."

McKnight doesn't think her daughter would've been so resolute in committing to a college she had not visited if she hadn't already been on a tour. "College is about furthering one's individual identity and I think the visit is one of those first opportunities to to do so."

Please share your college tour experiences with us. What are your most important questions? 

Photo credits: Christine Scalise and Katie McKnight

Check out Part 1 and 2 of our series -

Spring Break is a Good Time to Start College Visits

Scheduling College Tours? Begin With Basic Questions. 

 

 

 

 

Topics: spring break, education, higher ed, high school, parents, graduates, college admissions, college applications, higher education, college, college tours, college visits, career, alternative spring breaks

Scheduling College Tours? Begin with Basic Questions.

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 02:21 PM

In part two of our series on college visits, we discuss how to decide which schools to visit and when to schedule tours.

It’s time to face facts. You can’t put it off any longer. The little boy who held your hand whilescheduling college tours
walking into kindergarten and the sweet little girl who used to wear pigtails are in the final stages of determining where to go to college. Yes, college.

You’re ready now. You can do this. It’s time to start the college tours. While it might be easy for you as a parent to just handle it and schedule a few visits, it’s important your student is involved in the process. Before you begin booking flights or packing up the car, have your student do a little legwork.

Parameters

Have a discussion with your child. Talk about parameters. Do they want to go to a school in a big city or something more suburban or rural? Does the size of the campus matter? Consider categories – SEC versus Big Ten, small private school versus big state school, religious versus secular. Does your daughter want to go out of state? Talk about regions of the country. Does your son want to be on the west coast or the east coast, south or north? Does your student have a specific major in mind? Do they want to play sports or have a particular talent – theater, dance, music?

If you’re lucky, you might get something more than, “I don’t know.” My friend’s daughter has grown up in a very urban environment. She’s decided she wants to experience a more rural campus. We live in the Midwest. My son’s one major requirement is to be someplace warm! Keep asking questions to narrow down the list.

Have your child review college guidebooks and online sources like Fiske, Princeton ReviewBarron’s, or U.S. News and World Report.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your child’s high school counselor before you visit schools. This person should know something about your student and could offer suggestions about which schools to consider. The counselor may also personally know college admission representatives or put you in touch with recent high school alums at different universities.

“The College Board has a Campus Visit Guide that can assist families in starting the process ofcollege applications determining schools to visit," said Deborah Kammerer, associate director recruitment & yield, 
UC San Diego Office of Admissions & Relations with Schools, a member of the NobleHour Network. "It includes information on things to consider before you visit, ways to learn about schools online, a checklist for campus visits, and testimonials from students on how campus visits assisted in their college selection process.” 

Another resource that may appeal to your savvy social media student is to have them check out the Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or other forms of social media used by the universities that interest them.

As your child begins his research, encourage him or her to highlight 10-20 schools. Some kids may choose more, others far less. It’s just to get them thinking about where they want to go and to take ownership of their future. Once they have their picks, ask them why the schools are on the list. Be prepared for some lame answers, but keep digging. Maybe it’s the location. Maybe it’s the courses they offer. Maybe it’s because the football team won the national championship. Or, possibly, it’s because it’s the furthest school from you and all these questions!

“We told our kids to look through the lists and pick 20 schools that interest them,” said Terri Stuckey, a mother of two college students and a junior in high school. “Then, we went over the list and asked them why they found those schools interesting. I was into it more than my kids. The parents have to get it started though.”

“I was against visiting any schools until I had narrowed down my college options to two,” said Ellie McKnight, a senior in high school in Chicago. “My mom insisted we go on a college tour last spring break. Although I think most stuff about the school you can learn online, the visit on campus allowed the great opportunity to talk to faculty.”

McKnight said visiting the schools solidified her interest in William & Mary in Virginia, and Dartmouth in New Hampshire. It also sparked an interest in Emory University in Georgia.

Stay In Contact

If your child is like mine and doesn’t often check his e-mail, have him use your address or a new account to sign up for ACT, SAT and college information. Once my son completed the personal information sections for ACT and SAT, we started getting e-mails from universities all over the place. Some sites will also ask for a parent e-mail address, so you can keep on top of the information as well. It can be overwhelming. Stuckey said she created a college folder and moved e-mails into it every day and then reviewed them weekly. “I deleted some and responded to some, mostly asking for more information. I did the same with the paper mail too.”

Logistics

Stuckey said once they narrowed it down, she then looked at universities located inEmory cities allowing flexible travel arrangements. They looked at cities with major airports, non-stop flights, or areas where they could visit more than one college in one trip. Also, if they had to fly, they committed to visiting at least two schools to make the trip more cost-effective.

“We tried to travel when the kids were off school and took advantage of times when other high school students were in school.” Being from New Orleans, Stuckey used the Mardi Gras break to visit schools. 

Jane Berry, a sophomore at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, said her mom made a planner for their visits together. “She mapped out our road trip with cool places to stay and facts about the school. This made a huge difference for me and made me really consider some Midwest schools.”

While it may be convenient to schedule tours during holiday and summer breaks, it doesn’t always give you a true picture of the campus. “It is also nice to visit the college or university during the academic year, when school is in session, to get a true sense of the campus atmosphere,” said Kammerer.

Stuckey agrees. “The best time to do a tour is when school is in session. Summer is okay if classes are in session or if there’s a new student orientation going on.”

Another option to maximize time and minimize out-of-town expense is to wait for acceptance letters to help determine which schools to visit. “We visited schools that we didn’t get a chance to see initially and also did some second visits to help make decisions,” said Stuckey.

“UC San Diego hosts a day just for admitted students and their families called Triton Day,Triton Day said Kammerer. “It’s a great opportunity for admitted students to explore the campus and the variety of opportunities available.”

Scheduling

“Planning a visit may vary from institution to institution, but many universities including UC San Diego offer an online registration site that allows visitors to schedule their campus tour,” said Kammerer.

Stuckey said almost all schools have a “Plan Your Visit” section on their websites with information about flights, travel agencies, car rentals, and lodging. Always ask if they offer discounts for college visits.

Many schools have open house events with tours, presentations, etc. You can check each school’s website in their admission section for dates and information about attending those events or to schedule individual tours. Tours are offered throughout the week and sometimes on Saturdays. Depending on the university, you may be able to sit in on a class, visit professors, meet coaches or visit with students.

“At Emory, my tour allowed me to get in contact with the dean of admissions, which definitely impacted how I viewed the school,” said McKnight.

“The availability of group and individual tours and spending the night on a campus will vary across universities,” said Kammerer. “In terms of travel and accommodations, it is best to plan ahead. Many institutions host links to area visitor offices and hotel sites on their tour page.”

“Most times when a student is closer to making up their mind about attending a particular school, it is recommended that the student revisit if possible and perhaps stay overnight to get a more robust experience,” said Charles Basden, Jr., coordinator, special projects, for George Washington University, a member of the NobleHour Network.

Basden also suggests inquiring about potential special situation funds universities may have to help assist families with their effort to visit campus.

Stuckey advises staying as close to campus as possible. It’s a great way to learn more about the community. When I visited LSU with my son, we stayed at the Cook Hotel right on campus. We could walk through the university grounds, meet and speak with students along the way and we were able to get a feel for campus life.

Also, when making travel arrangements, consider arriving on campus early or staying a few hours after the tour. There’s nothing worse than missing a casual opportunity to visit with students, professors, financial aid representatives, or admission counselors because you have to rush off to catch a flight. Remember, if it’s a group tour, there will be other parents who want to meet with university staff also. Be prepared to wait.

Have a cup of coffee at the local café or the bookstore. Grab lunch in the dining hall or dinner at a favorite university hangout. Walk around campus on your own. It’s a great opportunity to speak with students and ask them questions about school. “Kids get a strong feeling about the campus and the people they meet on campus,” said Stuckey.

Next time - Part III - Going on Tour and questions, lots of questions!

Part I - Spring Break is a Good Time to Start College Visits

Photo credits: Dolly Duplantier, Terri Stuckey, and UC San Diego Publications/Erik Jepsen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: education, higher ed, high school, community, parents, graduates, opportunities, college admissions, college applications, college major, higher education, college, college tours, college visits, virtual tours

Spring Break is a Good Time to Start College Visits

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Sat, Mar 08, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

college brochuresSpringtime is around the corner. That means high school seniors are eagerly awaiting
acceptance letters and juniors are in the home stretch for ACT and SAT prep. It also means that
with spring break on the horizon, and summer beyond that, now is a good time for all high school students to start planning those college visits. In this three part series, we’ll provide some guidelines and tips to make the most of your student’s college visits. We’ll start with an expert – a mom.

Terri Stuckey is no stranger to college visits. With a junior at Emory, a freshman at the University of Virginia and a junior in high school, she’s as close to an expert as they come. Stuckey has visited at least 26 schools, some of them twice, and she’s not done yet.

Start Local

Don’t let those numbers overwhelm you. Not all visits require airfare or lodgings or days away from school and work. One of the easiest places to start your journey is your local university. Even if your son or daughter is adamant about going away, this is a great place to begin. It doesn’t matter if they want to go to that particular school. Visiting different colleges lets students determine what they like and dislike. It’s just as important to take note of why they don’t want to go to a specific school.

These visits can be done on days off from school, after school or on a weekend. You can get a feel for the whole tour experience. This will help you gauge time for itineraries later if you decide to tour schools out-of-state.

In addition, attending local events on a college campus can give your son or daughter perspective and get them excited about the admission process. Catch a show put on by the theater department or cheer on the local team during a football game.

 VacationsLSU

If you’ve already planned your Spring Break vacation, find out if there’s a university near your destination. If you have the time, take a side-trip and schedule a tour. Have lunch or dinner on campus. Walk through and visit the bookstore or if you’re short on time, just drive through the university. Again, it’s a good starting point just to see what’s out there and to give them a point of comparison.

Just about every university my family visited was during a vacation. Road trips through the south brought us to the University of Alabama, Ole Miss, Tulane, LSU, Loyola, and the University of Miami. My boys are two years apart. I made sure the younger one was paying attention. Even their sister, five years younger, has fond memories of our campus visits.

Summer Camps

Stuckey also suggests enrolling your student in a weeklong, overnight, summer camp before going to the expense of scheduling out-of-state tours. Her kids did it the summer after their sophomore year in high school. “It doesn’t have to be where they want to go to college, but it’s a great way to see if they want to go away for school.”

It doesn’t necessarily have to be an academic camp. The point is to give them the experience of being on their own away from home, family and friends. It also provides them with the opportunity to live in a dorm. “Before you start looking at colleges all over the country, see if they can survive a week alone,” said Stuckey.

If they don’t enjoy the experience, then it helps narrow things down. It may not be worth it to visit universities more than a few hours away.

Many schools offer summer programs for high school students. It’s a great experience for the kids. Some offer guided tours as part of the camp, as well as meetings with admission and financial aid counselors. They may even offer college credit. Stuckey said being on campus gets them excited about going to school. “The kids also learn the vocabulary of admissions.”

It’s best to sign up as early as possible. Deadlines can be as early as March. Just search “college summer programs for high school students” and you’ll get a variety of listings. You can also check with your high school college counselors as they may have information about summer programs too.

 Multiple ToursUVA

Another option for visiting schools is to set up a group tour. Check with your high school to see if they offer any bus tours. Some may organize weeklong excursions visiting multiple schools within a specific region. “The kids see a variety of schools, but the parents aren’t with them,” said Stuckey. “The kids have fun, but they may not be looking at the things you, as a parent, want them to consider.”

There are also companies that coordinate tours of multiple universities in specific regions. This takes the hassle out of the planning and lets you concentrate on the school visits.

Stuckey said she never did more than four schools during one trip. “They start to blur in to each
other and it’s hard to keep straight.” She recommends taking lots of pictures, especially by specific landmarks and school signs so when you get back home they can help you remember the campus.

Virtual Tours and Social Media

Obviously, not everyone can afford the time or money to visit every school. Fortunately, the Internet and social media are great resources to learn about schools in the comfort of your own home. Every university has a website. Some offer virtual tours. You can also check out their Facebook page and mobile apps, as well as Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn accounts. Students often post videos of school events, tours of dorms, etc., and many student groups have their own Facebook page.

“If they cannot physically tour the school, then it is extremely important that they read all that they can from different sources about the school,” said Charles Basden, Jr., coordinator, special projects, for George Washington University, a member of the NobleHour Network.  “Many schools are developing virtual tours and online portals that seek to emulate the on campus tour feel. I would suggest creating a Google news alert for the schools they are interested in.”

In addition, Basden recommends reaching out to current students or faculty members through the directory or through student organizations to get a better sense of what campus life is about. Chatting with recent alumni can also provide a helpful perspective.

Photos by Dolly Duplantier

Next time - Part II - Deciding Where to Visit

Part III - Going on Tour – The College Visit: 15 Questions to Ask


 

Topics: spring break, education, higher ed, high school, parents, college admissions, college major, higher education, college, college tours, college visits, virtual tours, scholarships, social media

Empowering Noble Leaders: Service Learning and Community Engagement

Posted by Dr. Kristin Joos and Liz Harlan on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 @ 01:00 PM

Empowering NobleLeaders through Service Learning and Community Engagement

Hello NobleHour community! We're happy to announce that Dr. Kristin Joos, UF faculty-member, and recent college graduate and service-oriented young professional, Liz Harlan, have teamed up to write for our new “Empowering NobleLeaders” blog series. They both found their passions through service learning and community engagement and are eager to educate, inspire, and empower others to do the same. This first post introduces Kristin and Liz, as well as the topics they'll be covering in upcoming blog posts. We're excited to have them on board. Welcome, Kristin and Liz!

A bit about Kristin:

I am the Coordinator of the Innovative Sustainability & Social Impact Initiative in the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. I also direct the Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership & Sustainability High School Summer Program at UF, the only summer program in existence where college-bound high school students learn and practice the skills of successful business and community leaders, while being inspired to solve social, environmental, and economic problems. 

As a high school student I participated in a youth organization where I learned the importance of community engagement; I was inspired by the director, a social entrepreneur, who challenged youth to risk their dreams and make a positive impact on society. We were exposed to a plethora of social problems and were encouraged to be part of the solutions. When I was 16 years old I was asked to speak in front of an audience of 2000+ people. I opened my speech with “So many times there is no peace outside our windows: extinction, pollution, unemployment, homelessness, racism, discrimination, disease, neglect, abuse... in our society the list goes on and on...” After early-admitting to college later that year, I decided not only did I want to learn how to solve social problems, I could have a bigger impact on the world if I educated others to do so as well.

I first learned of Social Entrepreneurship in 2000 when attending a conference for an international NGO, and met an Ashoka Fellow. At the time, I was completing my dissertation and studying high achieving teenagers who aspired to make a difference in their communities and the world. From then on, I was committed to dedicating my professional career to educating, inspiring, and empowering students to become changemakers. In 2005, I brought Social Entrepreneurship to UF. My current research and applied interests center around social entrepreneurship, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, service learning and community service, civic engagement, and creating positive social change. I am passionate about teaching and empowering students to use the skills and strategies of business to create innovative and sustainable solutions to social, environmental, and economic problems locally and around the world.

In 2006, I had the pleasure of being named Service Learning Professor of the Year at UF, because of the community service completed by my students. In fact, each year my students complete more than 1⁄4 of the UF President’s Goal of 1 Million minutes of service for all UF students. I am the author of Don't Just Count Your Hours, Make Your Hours Count: The Essential Guide to Volunteering & Community Service, a valuable resource for both service learning students and faculty and greatly appreciate the help of folks at the Corporation for National & Community Service, Campus Compact, and the National Youth Leadership Council.

I believe that education is a life-long process. In 2012 I participated in the International Social Entrepreneurship Programme at INSEAD. In 2013 I graduated from the AACSB PostDoc Bridge Program and was awarded Academic Scholar status. This spring, I will complete a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship, sponsored by USASBE and the Kauffman Foundation and will also attend the Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

I delight in living in a historic home built in 1912. I find happiness in checking items off my never-ending to-do lists, practicing yoga, reading The Sun Magazine, supporting local farmers, learning to standup paddle board, and collecting quotable cards.

A bit about Liz:

I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Joos in high school with her Windows of Opportunity college and career advising program. In May of 2012, I graduated from Emory University with a B.S. in Anthropology and Human Biology and a minor in Global Health, Culture, & Society, and could not be more grateful to Dr. Joos for helping me in my acceptance to the perfect college fit.

My introduction to service began as a young child with two parents in the military. When I was not playing sports as a teenager, I loved to volunteer at my local library, homeless shelter, or middle school science summer camp. These volunteer experiences soon turned into ongoing community service activities. My mother believed spring breaks at the beach were too luxurious for high schoolers, so I traveled to Nicaragua on a medical service trip with a local church. I fell in love with medicine, other cultures, and decided I wanted to be a doctor. This led me to study Pre-Med and choose my major and minor at Emory, with professors who emphasized community engagement, taught courses in Community Based Service Learning, and urged us to reflect on everything from all perspectives. I was very involved in community service in Atlanta, as well as in Honduras and South Africa.

I value community service for the connections and relationships they create between people. All of my volunteer, internship, and community experiences recently helped grant me acceptance at the University of Florida College of Medicine. I am passionate about my future career of service. I balance work, family, traveling and staying active with helping at the Catholic Worker House in downtown Gainesville, Florida. As an independent and frugal adult, I am pursuing sustainable, local, and free ways to be fully immersed and involved in my community… and loving it!

A bit about the Empowering NobleLeaders Blog Series

We are thrilled to be working with NobleHour to help service learning faculty and community service coordinators find ways to get their students excited about volunteering, the benefits of long-term involvement in community service, and the personal transformation that often occurs. We will explore various topics, learning strategies, and community service programs on this blog, including social entrepreneurship, community service in higher education, how service helps both in college and a career, and leveraging community partnerships. Be on the lookout for our next blog coming soon highlighting how to leverage enthusiasm from MLK-Day service activities (or other Service Plunges) to maintain and sustain long-term involvement.

We're excited to launch this blog series and hope it helps you achieve your goals of engaging students with the community. Please let us know your favorite topics in the comments!

Topics: service learning, service, community service, sustainability, learning strategies, community service programs, social entrepreneurship, higher education, college, career, community partnerships, community service coordinators, community connections

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