About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 838 posts from scratch.

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Wednesday’s Parent: A Day in the Life of a College-Bound Parent

 

college-bound parentSchool has started for most high school students and for their parents. Yes, I said parents too. They go back to school and we become chauffeurs, coaches, ports in the storm, listening ears and punching bags. College prep adds a whole new level of frustration and stress to the four high school years. A typical day in the life of a college-bound parent might include:

Reminding them to study for standardized tests

Every parent knows the importance of standardized tests. Most students revolt when it comes to studying for them. It’s a daily battle trying to get them to study or even look at vocabulary words. Those that do, reap the rewards. Those that don’t, settle for average scores. The hard part of this parenting issue is to find a motivation and use it.

Receiving a text message that the deadline for ____ is today, and they forgot

This will happen; more times than you care to count. With so many activities, responsibilities and deadlines related to college admissions, things are bound to fall through the cracks. Don’t always rescue them. Find a reminder system that works: text messaging, shared calendar apps, or a huge wall calendar in a place in the house that everyone can see.

Thinking they can’t leave for college soon enough

Battles will ensue. Doors will slam. Words will fly. You will find yourself looking forward to the day when none of these things are a part of your life. It might be only for an instant, but it will happen.

Wishing you could stop time and keep them home forever

Just as quickly as you wish they were gone, you will dread the day you drop them off for college. You can’t prepare for that moment, but you can cherish every moment of their high school years; even the bad ones. Once they leave, the house will be quiet again and you will miss those slamming doors.

Encouraging (or nagging) them to search for scholarships

During all four years of high school, scholarship searching should be a part of your student’s life. It’s boring, monotonous and not fun. It ranks right up there with studying and they will avoid it like the plague. The only way you can motivate them is to make them understand that scholarship searching is related to being able to attend college. Money = opportunity and their job while in high school is to search for scholarships.

Sifting through the papers in their backpack (or on their floor) looking for an application or form

This is not an adequate filing system for college material. This is the way important papers are lost and deadlines are missed. At the start of high school, establish a “college landing zone” for everything college related. Once your student knows to make this a priority, you should be able to minimize those treasure hunts.

Stressing over college choice, college visits, test prep and just about any other college prep task

Stress will be your middle name for the next four years. You can minimize the stress by staying organized, planning ahead, and communicating with one another.

Having mounds and mounds of questions and needing answers

Questions will arise during college prep and you will need answers. Lucky for you, there are many experts willing to help. Look on social media, ask your high school counselor or even hire and independent counselor. Tonight’s Back-to-School panel on #CampusChat should answer some of your questions and if you have more, contact the experts on Twitter after the chat. They will be happy to help.

This last one came from one of my readers (thanks Renee!)

Monitoring your student’s classes to make sure that they are meeting college admissions requirements

Does your son need to retake a class? Does your daughter need an additional math class? Don’t rely on counselors to keep track of your child’s progress. Parents and students have to monitor their own progress toward college and not be afraid to ask questions and request changes when things don’t look right.

Read Wendy’s post: College Prep Back to School Tips

 

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is that tonight Wendy and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. Our Back-to-School Panel of experts will be giving tips to parents about all phases of college prep.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from parentscountdowntocollegecoach to pocsmom.com and vice versa.

Tips for Dads of the College-Bound

 

tips for dadsWith all the advice for moms, one of my Twitter followers (@PeachtreeCP) chimed in: “What about tips for dads?” I had to respond, “I’m not a dad, so I can’t speak for them.” But, it occurred to me that I did know some dads, one in particular, my brother. Both his children went to college. His daughter had a relatively typical college experience. His son, on the other hand, always marched, and still does, to the beat of a different drummer.

When I asked my brother to share his best advice, man to man, he graciously agreed to help. Here’s his response, word for word:

I’m not sure where to begin.  I assume that the dad who wrote you wanted advice about the college process.  I guess I’ll just share how I approached this with Cameron.  Since he’s not the typical kid, my approach was unique to him.  But this is how I did it.

  • I gave guidance, but didn’t try to push him into my expectations for him
  • I stressed the importance of education while he was thinking about what to do after high school
  • I tried to show him how his interests (video production, photography, etc.) would be greatly enhanced by more education
  • I gave him permission to make mistakes and take his time in determining his major
  • I didn’t give him a completely free ride to college – we required that he have some investment
  • I encouraged him to get a job while going to school
  • I encouraged him not to get into debt with loans, but to pay as he could, semester by semester
  • I finally recognized that college may not be his thing, so I gave him permission to say, “I want to do something else”, then I gave him my blessing

In retrospect, I think we could have done a better job of setting him up for a better first year away at college.  We found a garage apartment for him to live in, but he lived alone.  I think it would have been a better experience for him if he had other roommates going through the same struggles at college.

_______________________

Cameron chose to get a “real life” education, self-taught on the entrepreneurial route. It has not been an easy path, but he has certainly discovered his strengths and weaknesses while learning much about himself through self-discovery. He’s working at a job in a field he loves: video production.

For all you dads out there, the key here, according to my brother, is to know your child, give guidance when needed, stress the importance of an education, and give them the freedom to explore their own path in life. The college prep process has it’s own set of challenges and fathers can provide that stabilizing influence and strong support their college-bound teen needs.

Scholarship Friday: Scholarships with September Deadlines

 

scholarships with september deadlinesAccording to a recent survey, paying for college is a parent’s biggest concern. Scholarships can go a long way to alleviating that stress. Encourage your student to investigate every available scholarship and apply to the ones in which they fit the criteria.

Here’s a few resources listing scholarships with September deadlines.

JLV Consulting provides a list of 40 scholarships with September deadlines. Visit the scholarship websites to get more details about individual requirements and the application:

http://jlvcollegecounseling.com/2015/07/28/scholarships-with-september-2015-deadlines/

Unigo provides a list of 10 scholarships and contests available to high school students:

https://www.unigo.com/pay-for-college/scholarships/september-scholarship-countdown-1

About Education gives a list of 13 scholarships with September deadlines:

http://collegeapps.about.com/od/grantsandscholarships/tp/college-scholarships-september.htm

Scholarships.com offers a list of scholarships with September deadlines:

https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-trending-now/

Need more? Do a Google search of “scholarships with September deadlines” and you can add to this list.

 

 

A Day in the Life of a College Mom

 

college momIt’s happening. The dreaded day has arrived and you have dropped off your student at college. The tears have flowed, and you made the long drive home in turmoil. But it didn’t end there, you got home and you walked by her room. The floodgates opened again. I recently had a conversation with my brother and sister-in-law the other day about dropping their daughter off at college. They echoed all the above sentiments and assured me it was the hardest thing they had ever done. I too have been there as well.

But with all the emotions, heartbreak, empty nest feelings, grief and general frustration that took place on that day, a new day will break and we all begin our new life—hers in college, and yours at home missing her. When the dust settles, what can you expect? What is a typical day like in the life of a college mom?

Expect to hear from her soon

Either before you get home or in the next few days you will either get a text, a tweet, or a phone call from her. Mine needed some personal information, some medical information and some banking information. At the end of the call, she said, “Thanks Mom, I knew you could help me.” Those few simple words let me know she still needed me. It doesn’t matter how independent you think she is, she’s going to need you; and, she’s going to reach out for help.

Expect some phone calls feigning homesickness

It’s going to happen sooner or later: your college student will get homesick. The moment you accept the inevitable, the better equipped you will be to handle it. The best response is to listen. The worst response is to rescue her. Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate, says, “giving a homesick kid more home is like giving someone on a diet chocolate cake and a pint of ice cream.” The solution to homesickness is to create a home at college. Encourage her to get involved socially. Many parents have found this to be the perfect time for a care package from home.

Expect periods of little communication

Believe it or not, this is a good sign. It means your student is getting involved, making new friends, and studying. She has little time to phone home or stay in constant communication with her parents. It’s not personal. It’s a sign she is adjusting to college life and doesn’t need to connect with home as often as she did in the first few weeks.

Expect sickness caused from stress and fatigue

The first time your college student gets sick (and she will get sick), she will call you. Every college student needs their mommy when they get sick. The stress, the sleepless nights, and the poor eating habits will perpetuate the sickness. Send a care package of your best “comfort” items and encourage her to get some rest. The first sickness will be the worst. After that, she will know how to treat them herself.

Expect roommate drama

I don’t care how well the roommates get along in the beginning, there is going to be roommate drama. Personalities will clash, boyfriends/girlfriends will enter in to the drama, and bad habits will cause problems. Encourage your student to resolve these conflicts on her own and seek help if things continue to escalate—that’s what RAs are there for.

Expect the unexpected

No matter how much you plan and think you’re prepared for everything, expect the unexpected. It may come in the form of her wanting to transfer, or wanting to do a 360 on her major. She may announce that she has failed a class (without any notice), or that she is completely out of money and needs your help. Whatever the circumstance, she will ask for your advice and expect, as she did in the past, that you will know what she should do. Don’t panic, just listen. Offer advice. Then let her solve the problem herself.

Be comforted knowing that she will always be your little girl and she will always need her mommy. The same goes for sons—it doesn’t matter how old they get, they will come running to you for comfort and advice.

Sending Your Student to College With Music

 

College move in day is approaching and families across the country are packing their cars to drop their new college students off at the dorm. Dorm rooms are traditionally small and cramped, with little space to bring all the comforts of home. But a must have for your student is a smartphone. They will use the apps for texting, tweeting, communicating with other students, keeping tabs of dates on their calendar, and of course, listening to music.

Bluetooth speakersStudents spend a great deal of time listening to music in their dorm rooms. Whether they are studying, entertaining, or simply relaxing at the end of the day, their music can be a stress reliever. They probably have headphones, or if they are a boy, massive speakers. But the Insignia™ ultra-lightweight Bluetooth Speaker from Best Buy is the perfect mode for your student to listen to music. Not only are they portable and compact, but they are also affordable. (You will appreciate this after spending all your hard-earned money on dorm supplies). With each Insignia™ Bluetooth Speaker, you get the speaker, a USB charging cable and an owner’s manual, which easily walks you through the steps to connect to your other Bluetooth enabled products.

IMG_5712 (2)I love this speaker because it is practical for the college student. Whether in their dorm or on the go they can take this speaker with them. They can easily strap the speaker to their backpack, purse, gym bag, bicycle or even the visor in their car. Since the speaker is splashproof, you don’t have to worry about a spilled drink, splashed shower or sink water, or even rain when it’s outside.

Here are just a few uses your college student might find for this portable speaker:

  • Take it in the bathroom with you
  • Hang it on your bed in the dorm room
  • Take it to the gym and hang it on the treadmill
  • Hang in your car for trips to and from college
  • Take it to the beach during Spring Break!

This speaker is sold at Best Buy for less than $20 and is available in a variety of colors: Cobalt Blue, Horizon Blue, Sea Green, and Hot Pink. But you can save money NOW by taking advantage of Best Buy’s sale of 30% off any Insignia Portable Bluetooth Speaker.  Be sure to access the link for the coupon code. The offer is valid 8/03/15 – 9/05/15, in store and online. 

Plug In (2)_0While in the dorm, your student will like the Insignia™ Plug In Bluetooth Speaker to listen to music. You can stream music and audio from any Bluetooth enabled device: a smartphone, a laptop or desktop computer, or even the television (if they are lucky enough to have one!). It has a built in power adapter and the battery is rechargeable, giving you over 2 hours of enjoyment on one charge. Since it is also portable, your student can take it anywhere. It’s equipped with a USB port and a speaker port to make it even more versatile.

PluginHere are some suggested uses your student might find for this speaker:

  • Plug it in to save space in the dorm (in lieu of bulky speakers)
  • Carry it outside on the greenspace to share your music with others
  • Plug it in in the common room to listen to music while socializing

This Insignia™ Plug In Bluetooth Speaker is also sold at Best Buy for less than $30.

Both these speakers produce excellent sound quality, along with portability. For around $50 your student can have both and you’re giving them the gift of music!

You will also want to stay connected with Best Buy through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.