Tag Archives: college

Oh Dear, I’m a Newbie

By Talia Goren

This article written for CollegeTipsForParents.org by Talia Goren was previously featured on our site a few years back. Talia discusses the many new encounters that all new college students go through, such as new surroundings, new people, professors, etc. She gives great suggestions on specific steps students can take to make the transition less stressful. Her tips are also useful suggestions for parents helping their children adapt to college life and the student’s college transition.


Many students have minor coronaries at the thought of the process you go through when entering or starting something as new and scary as college. The idea of making friends and the amount of course load and the horror of a scary professor seem, especially to those not blessed at birth with the social butterfly gene, like an impossible feat to overcome.

So what, then, is the best way to be the most comfortable and happy in this new environment? How do you get used to new surroundings, new people, new classes, new teachers, and all the other “news” associated with going off to school?

There are a few steps to take to achieve this goal.

First of all, make a priority list. Why did you enter this school in the first place? What led you to choose it? Was it the size? Maybe it was the majors? Perhaps even the location! Either way, write down your reasons for wanting to be there and what things you really loved about it. This will help you remember positive things when you are feeling down in the dumps.

Then, explore! This means finding out about different aspects of the school. They always give you a few days before classes start so use them! Look around, get a campus map and familiarize yourself with your environment. You can do it alone, or even with a buddy, maybe your roommate or someone you met at orientation. Get to know the different areas of campus and the best ways to get from one place to another. Take advantage of maps and offices with staff members in them. Ask lots of questions, someone is bound to know the answer.

The next thing to do is find out about clubs. Usually there is some kind of club expo where all of the groups, clubs, teams, sororities and fraternities are displayed. Ask questions, get involved, and find something that interests you. There is bound to be something!

In terms of all of the new people, keep in mind just that; they are all new! Hundreds if not thousands of freshman are entering schools every August and September and they are all just as frightened as you are! The most important thing to do if you are not as comfortable<> being social is to always smile. People feel more comfortable around people who smile, and you are more likely to be approached by someone who is more comfortable talking to strangers if you look as though you are willing to be approached. Also, not all upper classmen are evil, so please don’t be scared of them. Oftentimes, they will be your best asset because they’ve been at the school for awhile.

The idea of the “scary professor” whose aim is to give you as much work as humanly possible and perhaps take you to his dungeon where he has a torture chamber is-mostly- inaccurate. Just like in high school, there will be teachers you like and teachers you dislike. While many schools place you in classes without you really choosing them yourself (at least your first semester), most schools allow you to choose your own classes and your own professors. Take advantage of websites that rate professors because they are generally pretty accurate. Also, feel free to use other students for information. Again, upperclassmen have been there, and done that! While they may not have the same taste as you, they can usually tell you what kind of teaching style the professor has and you can decide whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

The most important thing to learn about college is that no matter how big or small, you have the power to change anything. If you are uncomfortable with a roommate, you can request to switch. If you decide your major is not the right fit for you, you can also change that. If a class is proving not to be what you thought it was or you do not get along with a teacher, there is always an add/drop period where you can switch into another class. Don’t be afraid to make a decision and have an opinion, because in the end you and your parents are paying for an education and for you to be happy and comfortable and learn a lot!

Tips For Students Getting Ready to Start College

Below are some tips for both parents and for students who will be starting college in the coming months. We will be posting more tips and suggestions in the coming weeks. Here are a few tips.

-Don’t skip freshmen orientation or any similar new student sessions. This is one of the few (if any) times you will get a structured introduction to the college, covering important topics such as resources, facilities, and other useful information.

-There is a lot of useful and current info on college websites. Be sure to check back periodically for useful updates and important changes.

-Use a map to schedule classes so you don’t end up running all over campus to get to your next class.

-You’ve have probably already started getting a bunch of junk mail from vendors who are targeting new college students and families. You will also be getting mail from various departments and groups from your college. Make sure you look carefully for anything coming directly from your college, since you might be receiving important documents, receipts, deadline information, etc. So, make sure you don’t throw away anything without carefully examining its contents.

-To get off to a good academic start, you might want to take a required pre-requisite course like math at a local college during the summer. Its a great advantage to get a tough course out of the way, and it might save you some money. Be sure your course fully transfers to whatever college you are attending.

-If you already know what English or Lit class you’ll be taking this fall, try to find out the reading assignments in advance, and read one of your books in advance in the summer. You’ll have plenty to do once school starts, so it makes sense to get a head start.

-Carefully examine your dorm room and report any damage or issues before you move in. You don’t want to have to pay for something you weren’t responsible for at the end of the year.

The Parents’ Guide to a Worry-Free Semester

By Caitlin Fahey for CollegeTipsForParents.org

The transition from high school to college is difficult. For the parents. For those of you who are sending your children to college for the first time, I’m sure you’re a nervous wreck. But a college education is what every parent wants for their children today, isn’t it? I survived my freshman year (and so did my parents). I went on to mentor freshmen for two years, and am currently a graduate assistant, teaching two sections of freshman English. I can assure you, you don’t have to worry as much as you think you do.

Many of you probably worry about the fact that your son or daughter is alone in an unfamiliar place. How safe is their campus, you might ask yourself. In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, you aren’t the only anxiety-ridden person. Schools all over the country are stepping up the security measures. At my alma mater, there are emergency phones so evenly distributed throughout the campus that an orientation leader boasted, “There isn’t one place on campus that you can stand without at least one blue light in view.” The blue lights on the phones signal a place where one push of a large “help” button immediately calls 911. Since Virginia Tech, many schools have also implemented an emergency text message service, so that in the case of a campus-wide emergency, students may be alerted anywhere.

I bet I can guess your next worry: alcohol, right? Universities today are not only associated with higher education, but with keg parties and binge drinking. However, I’m sorry to say that it’s not your place to lecture. But rest assured: universities don’t like the “party school” label anymore than you like imagining Johnny too hung-over to make it to Chemistry. Since my college days, I’ve also seen dorm security tighten up, and many campuses assign freshmen and sophomores to “dry” residences, where no alcohol is permitted. Likewise, for two years I was a mentor for a “First Year Experience” class, a one-credit course designed to help freshmen adjust. We had a unit on drug and alcohol abuse and educated the class about everything from legal repercussions to the signs of alcohol poisoning. If you can’t stop a college student from drinking, you can help them drink responsibly.

No matter what I say, I’m sure you still have doubts in the back of your mind. What if something does happen? Chances are, your child’s school has an abundance of resources. I teach freshmen English to a relatively small class. Because of the intimate classroom setting, the students tend to open up to their English teachers. I’ve had students come to office hours to talk about boy troubles, or use in-class writing to rant about how they think they are failing chemistry. I have a number of referrals I can make in these situations. Mental Health Services offer confidential counseling for students fighting depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. There is an Advocacy Center that also offers counseling and advice for extenuating circumstances, and study resources such as the Writing Center and tutoring services. Besides, there are so many recreational facilities and student activities on campus, that there’s a good chance your child will get over their homesickness and be in good spirits all semester.

For the parents, college brings a lot to worry about. Are they eating? Are they safe? Are they doing well in school? College is just as much a transition for the student as it is the parent. The bright side is that the four years of university will fly by. Suddenly, you’ll realize that the child you left in a strange dorm four years ago has become a young adult.

This article was originally written for CollegeTipsForParents.org by Caitlin Fahey a few years back, when Caitlin was pursuing a Master’s degree in English while teaching two sections of First Year Composition, a college writing course for college freshman students. As an undergrad, she similarly served as a freshman year mentor in a First Year Experience program. In addition to teaching, Caitlin’s interests include writing, theater, and film. As an experienced college student, she has some useful insights for college parents regarding: College Drinking, Campus Security, College Health, and other typical worries of College Parents.

Important Credit Card Law Changes Parents & College Students Need to Know

Most American college students use credit cards. However, many young people don’t always handle them properly, and often face late fees, increased rates, and high balances. Many of the problems are due to a lack of knowledge, or simply not handling cards responsibly. Although many of these problems are the result of bad habits of young adults, consumer groups believe many of these issues are the result of practices of credit card companies. To help address this issue, Congress passed new laws to restrict the ways card companies handle credit card arrangements with consumers.

Credit card companies will be required to follow the guidelines:

The changes generally require credit card companies:
-to increase disclosures to card holders.
-to provide more lead time or advance notice when changing terms.
-to limit their marketing activities on or near college campuses.
-to require increased parental involvement in credit card activities of individuals under 21.

More detail of these new requirements and information on money issues affecting young adults and their parents are available on the website MoneyManagement101.org

Borrowing for College Impacting Students Futures

As a result of the increasing debt levels, college students are having to delay many life events.
The level of borrowing grew dramatically last year. The U.S. Education Department reports that student-loan disbursements—the amount borrowed by students and received by schools in the most recent school year jumped by about 25%.
These higher borrowing levels are likely due to the poor economic climate combined with the increasing costs of college. Estimates vary, however approximately two-thirds of students borrow to cover the costs of college. This percentage is significants higher than it was ten years ago. New grads are often cash strapped due to high student loan repayment requirements. As a result, they often have to delay personal milestones such as buying a house, starting a family, etc. This trend is likely to get worse for current college students.

Given the high costs of college and the common need to borrow, it is critically important for parents to make sure their student is using their student loans only for true educational costs. Unfortunately, too many students use loan proceeds to pay for lifestyle related costs and non-essentials.

We will be adding some posts with tips for lowering college costs and reducing student loan levels.

College Students are often Clueless about Money Matters

Many College Students desperately need to learn money skills.

The list below represents typical quotes from college students on the topic of money matters. A basic understanding of money management is a critical part of the daily responsibilities of college and adult life. Although many of the statements seem comical to experienced adults, they illustrate why so many young people get into financial trouble. We suggest parents spend time teaching their students money skills, or provide them with a quick money management course as the one recommended below:

Money issues are probably the top reason students drop out of college. With that in mind, our Pick of the Month is the excellent course Money Management for Young Adults – this self study video & ebook course clearly explains essential money skills that college students need to understand.

Quote examples of College Students:
-Spending $1,000 using my new credit card is way cheaper than writing a $1,000 check, because I only have to pay back $20 per month.
-The bank must be wrong, my account can’t be overdrawn, I still have 10 checks left in my checkbook
-I think someone’s ripping me off on my first paycheck, who are these people FICA and FUTA, and why are they getting part of my paycheck
-I just got my first credit card, I love it, when this one’s full, I am going to apply for a couple more.
-I am already getting credit card applications in the mail, but my mom is too uptight to let me have one. Once I move out, I’m going to get a bunch of cards, and finally get some cool stuff.
-I am going to work 25 hours a week this summer and will make $8 an hour. I’ll be able to afford that new SUV, and still save tons of cash for college tuition.
-I make $80 a week at my part time job and buy lots of awesome stuff. My parents both work full time, but they’re so cheap, they never buy anything.
-Having a ton of student loans doesn’t really matter; by the time I have to pay them back, I’ll be making the big bucks.
-I don’t worry about filling out my income taxes, my dad always ends up doing it for me, I guess he likes doing it. He’s kind of weird that way.
– I heard that collection agencies can’t bother you until you’re out of college.
– If you never leave college, you never have to pay back your student loans.

6 Tips For Avoiding Weight Gain and Eating Healthy at College

Eating Smart in Your Dining Hall – Tips for College Students & Parents

by Jen Danowitz
for CollegeTipsForParents.org

The availability of constant all-you-can-eat style meals, coupled with the lack of parental direction for what should go on the table and the plate, leads many freshmen students to throw nutrition down the trash chute. With an eye on keeping healthy in the buffet-abyss of your dining hall, the following tips will help pile up your plate and not the pounds.

1. Quickly browse all selections before filling up your plate.
When you enter the dining hall, skim over all the selections available before filling your plate. By taking appropriate portions of what you really want, you will be less tempted to pile on too much food. This will also give you a better idea of the healthier alternatives available for your meal.

2. Check out the salad bar.
Most schools offer a variety of healthy salad bar options. Pile your plate with an assortment of leafy greens and other veggies before heading to the other food selections. It will be easier for you to take smaller portions of the less nutritious options, if your plate is already full. However, take it easy with the cheeses, croutons, bacon bits and dressings—too much of these can make your innocent salad as calorie-packed as the dining hall’s greasiest meal.
Many salad bars have a great fruit section as well. Keep this in mind when looking to jazz up your breakfast cereal, grab a quick apple or banana to snack on between classes, or couple fresh strawberries with yogurt to create a nutritious and delicious desert.

3. What are you drinking with that meal?
Filling your cup with soda is a great way to actually dehydrate yourself and pack on pounds. Opt for ice water, or a nutrient-rich beverage such as nonfat milk or 100% fruit juice. If you really want that soda, check out the diet options, or fill your cup only halfway and then add fruit juice to make a healthier (and tasty!) mix.

4. If you’re looking for carbs, look for whole grain.
If it’s not whole grain, it’s essentially empty calories. Why not go for the whole-grain versions of bread, cereal, pita, pasta and tortillas to add both flavor and nutrition to your carb-fix?

5. Get in and get out.
The longer you hang around in the cafeteria, the more you will be tempted to fill your plate with everything your eyes feast on. By piling it up, you will eat much more than your body actually needs. Head for the right choices, and then head directly out. Remember the selections your dining hall offers are probably not one-time deals, so you don’t need to grab everything you see.

6. Never eat when you are pressed for time.
If you head to the dining hall when you are in a rush, you will very likely grab the fastest dish-to-plate meal option. This is not often a nutritious option, which means you will load up on junk and still be hungry after. If you need a quick fix, force yourself to ignore temptation to grab the ready-made burger or greasy pizza slice, and choose a more wholesome option such as fresh fruit or a bowl of whole grain cereal with nonfat milk.
In addition, it’s important to slow down and think about each bite of food you take. Rather than wolfing down your meal so fast you forget what was on your plate to begin with, this will give your brain time to recognize your stomach is full, which means you will be less tempted to overeat. It will also give you time to relax and enjoy your meal.

CollegeTipsForParents.org note: The above tips are a general suggestions, your personal circumstances and needs may be different, Parents and students should always consult their personal physician regarding all health related matters.

9 Tips for College Students To Reduce Info Fraud Risks

Steps You and Your College Student Can Take to Reduce the Risks of Info Fraud and Identity Theft
Presented by CollegeTipsForParents.org

College Students are frequently the victims of information fraud. The victims’ parents are often asked to help fix the financial mess and spend considerable time untangling the administrative issues.

Identity thieves often know their victims; either directly or indirectly. Thieves might be their dorm-mates, friends, siblings of friends, classmates, co-workers, current or ex-boy/girlfriends, friends from extra-curricular activities, etc.

Names, addresses, birthdates, social security numbers, account numbers, and other personal data are valuable commodities on the underground market. An ex-boyfriend could easily possess all of this info. In fact, he might even know inside information such as passwords, PIN number, mother’s maiden name, etc.

What are some of the reasons young people are frequently victimized?:

-Casual attitude about taking precautions.
-Naive about security and safety.
-Trusting (often because they have never been swindled before).
-Less likely to review their credit report for unusual activity.

According to MoneyManagement101.com , parents should talk to their kids about identity theft and information security. Although the following tips may seem obvious to experienced adults, a surprising number of young people don’t follow some of the following basic guidelines.

-Never lend your credit card or debit card to anyone, and never share your password.
-Do not print your driver’s license number, birth date, or social security number on your checks.
-When you write a check at a store, don’t allow the store to confirm your check by writing in your credit card number.
-Do not put outbound mail in your mailbox for your postal carrier to pickup. Take your mail directly to a US postal mailbox.
-If your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen, alert your bank/credit card issuer immediately.
-Avoid using passwords or PIN numbers that might be easy for a thief to figure out (i.e. avoid birth dates, common names, etc.
-Shred any financial documents or anything containing sensitive information before putting them in the trash.
-Always check your credit card statement for charges you did not make.
-Order a copy of your credit report at least once per year. Look out for creditors on your statement that you never applied for.

We will feature additional tips and suggestions on CollegeTipsForParents.org in the near future.

College Campus Security & Safety – help coming from Congress?

In light of the violent incidents that have occurred on college campuses, security has become an even greater priority at colleges and universities. Security enhancements can be expensive, so colleges are looking for federal financial help to offset these costs.

Safety and security experts believe advanced alert systems, for example text messaging, is critical to providing rapid warning to alert students of imminent threats on campus.

Bills have recently been approved in both houses of Congress which would provide federal matching funds for colleges and universities to purchase emergency communication infrastructure or enhanced safety training. These items are incorporated into a larger bill addressing the postsecondary education law, which is currently being discussed in Congress.

Given the recent tragedies at universities and community colleges, campus security is a extremely visible issue, and obviously of the utmost importance to the public. However, there has been frustration among colleges and security proponents at how long it has taken Congress to approve these measures. There is a chance that Congress could take action by April. Unfortunately, any funding would not be available until next year, since the dollars would have to be approved by the congressional budget committees and signed into law by the Whitehouse.