Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Grades

This month we have a note from Kathy Stone, Director, for our new Center for Academic Support. 

Midterms came out last week, and for a lot of freshmen it's an eye-opening experience. No matter what your student may think about college, one thing is for certain: he or she knows that grades matter. And when those grades aren't quite what were expected—as is often the case (this isn't high school any more), our Center for Academic Support is here to help our students get back on track.


What you can do to help:

Since grades go to the students and not to the parents, it might be easy for you to assume that no news is good news, but trust us, that's not always the case.
Although your student is responsible for his or her grades, you have a responsibility to ask about them, and we can't stress enough the importance of you talking to your student about his or her academic progress. If you established early on that you expected to see and discuss grades at the end of each term, you're a step ahead. But if you didn't, there are still ways to start the dialogue and get your student to talk to you.

1. Don't be judgmental; instead help your student understand how to use grades as a measure of progress, to keep track of accomplishments, to be aware of where there are difficulties.

2. Don't ask questions that can be answered with yes, no, okay or fine. if you simply ask how their grades were, we guarantee you'll hear "fine." Instead, find the time to sit down and talk about how the semester went, what classes were easy, which were hard, and how the grades reflected those circumstances.

3. Remember that grades for freshmen students are quite often lower than expected. The leap from high school to college is a big one, and a whole new way of studying and managing time has to be learned. So, don't panic when they're not what you'd hoped. Instead, talk constructively about ways in which your student might make improvements.

4. Take a look at the entire picture. Lots of low grades might mean a difficult time
transitioning to college life, issues in your student's social life, or time-management difficulties. One bad grade probably indicates a subject that is especially tough for your student. Make sure you know what you're trying to improve.

5.  Make sure your student knows that once in college, he or she isn't making good grades to please you, but to gain the learning needed to do well in life.

6. Encourage your student to look for patterns. Are the bad grades all in early morning classes? In classes with lots of writing and papers? In his or her major?

7. Help your student come up with solutions to correct the problem, like meeting with the professor, making an appointment with a professional advisor or with someone from our center, requesting a tutor, using a time-management planner, joining a study group, or going to bed earlier.
And finally

8.  If grades are good, don't take them for granted. Congratulate your student on his or her hard work.


Hard as it may be to have a discussion about grades with your student, it's important. This is an outstanding opportunity for you to encourage your student to look honestly at his or her behavior, identify where there is a problem, and come up with a plan to improve, and that's not just a good skill to have for college; it's an important skill for life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Saying Goodbye

It's coming.  The middle of August.  The time when parents and students everywhere celebrate, or wallow in a sea of emotions.  College Move In Day.

I can still remember my parents dropping me off at Ashland University for my first semester.  I remember my dad carrying all the heavy things up three flights of steps in Myers Hall; sorry folks, there is no elevator.  I can remember the sweltering heat, the sweat on every one's foreheads, and my dad needing a clean shirt after he was done carrying the mini-fridge.  I can remember not knowing which bunk to take because I didn't want to annoy my roommate before I even got to know her.  I remember the fake smile on my mom's face.  The one she always wore in an attempt to hide the fear, sadness, or other difficult emotion she was really feeling.  I even remember the clothes I had on that day.  I'm sure I spent a good hour picking them out a few weeks before just because it was my first impression on all the other college kids.  You know what else I remember? My mom and dad leaving quickly.  So very quickly after they had unloaded the mini-van.  I remember feeling abandoned, alone, and Scared. To. Death. 

As I look back now, I know why they left so quickly.  They didn't know what else to do.  My mom was an emotional wreck, and well, dad never was good at "these kinds of things."  I'd been away from home before, for camps or vacations with friends, but this was different.  I was on my own, and this was hard.  For all of us. 

Parents, I am sharing this story with you, not to have you sobbing weeks before you drop your own son or daughter off at school, but to remind you that you are not alone.  Saying good-bye is hard.  It's hard for you.  It's hard for your child.  Believe it or not, it may even be hard on siblings, or the family pet.  But anything worth doing is hard. 
There are some ways to get through this and some things to keep in mind as you are preparing.

 With any big change, emotions, stress, hormones, and anxiety are high.  You and your family may all be at each other's throats, and everyone is 'ready' to get on with things.  This may in fact just be a side effect of your student (or you)  worrying about everything that will change.  Your student is leaving the home in which they grew up, childhood and high school friends, the comfort of the familiar.  At least you get to wake up in the same bed, in the same house, eating the same food...they don't. 

You'll want to plan ahead for dropping off your student.  You don't want to react out of crisis or extreme emotion.  Have a plan.  How long does your child want you to stay the day you drop him or her off?  Have a code word of sorts that lets you know your student wants you to stay, or wants you to go, without him or her having to come out and say, "hey mom don't leave yet, I'm too scared."  Chances are that will be hard.
 
Mom, or dad, don't stand in the middle of the parking lot with a box full of tissues. This is after all the first impression you and your child are making on what may be a handful of others but what your child may interpret as, the entire campus.  Sure, it's okay to have those feelings, but try to hold them in until after you leave the parking lot. 

Encourage your student, often.  Hug them goodbye, tell them you are proud of them, that you support them, and that they can call whenever they need to talk.  And then, send them lots of mail.  In those letters and care packages, tell them the same things. 

Don't call your student everyday, even though you want to.  Call or text that first night to check in, and then don't, for at least a few days.  I'm not trying to be mean, or ask you to do the impossible.  But we've found that students who can distance themselves, at least a bit, from home, are more likely to succeed in college and fight through the homesickness a lot easier. 

When I was away at college, I had no idea that as I cried on one end of the phone telling my mom how hard college was and feeling the pit of homesickness in my stomach, that even though mom was telling me I could do it, and just to stay a few more days, she would hang up the phone and cry her own tears.  My mom was my biggest cheerleader when I was away at college.  And even though it was hard for her, she did everything she could to keep me here.  And it was the best thing she ever did for me.

It gets easier, I promise, at least for the student.  Encourage him or her to stay, get involved, and push through those hard things.  It will be worth it in the end. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Career Planning

     This month’s article comes directly from our Career Services Director, Karen Hagans.  As your students are making the transition from school to home for the summer there will possibly be a lot of questions running through their minds about whether or not they’ve chosen the right area of study and/or career field of choice.  This can be an overwhelming time for them, and you, as they start to question what they have done for the last year. 
Karen has given some wonderful suggestions below that we encourage you to pursue with your students.  Remember to be kind and encouraging.  Choosing what you want to do for the rest of your life, when you’re only 18 or 20 years old, can be daunting.  Instead start with, “what would you like to do in the next 5 or 10 years?”

Career Planning
The great news is that the Career Services Center staff is dedicated to assisting students who are seeking to move closer to their career-related goals.  We are here to help!
 “Next Steps”
As we work with students in the Career Services Center at Ashland University, we realize that each student is unique and each student is at a different “place” when it comes to career planning.  The information below is designed to touch on the ways in which students can “move forward” with their career planning by using the services available through the Career Services Center.  We encourage you to have a conversation with your student.  Determine where your student is in the process and then work with them to set some goals to move closer to their next career-related destination.
Career Exploration
Students in the exploration phase can look at their interests, skills/abilities, values and personality by using Eagle Exploration, a web-based system for career and education planning:
Click on Eagle Exploration and then Create a New Account.  Your Access Code is tuffy.
The Career Services staff would like to meet with students who are using this instrument so we can assist in the processing of the information gained by using Eagle Exploration.  The instrument is really the beginning of the exploration process.  Student appointments can be made during the summer and for convenience, appointments can be in person, via telephone and via Skype.
Career Research
To aid students in making informed decisions we want students to discover the answers to the following questions for careers they are considering:
            What is involved in the work being performed?
            What is the work environment like; working conditions?
            What training is required?
            Where are the jobs and what are the job settings like?
            What is the job outlook for the future?
            How much do employees in this field earn?
            What are some related occupations?

Helpful Links for Web Research
Occupational Outlook Handbook
(Provides answers to the research questions listed above)

Top Occupations by Wages & Trends
(Targets fastest growing occupations – occupations with the most openings, wages by occupation and local area information)

“Experience” Careers
To help make career-related research come alive, we strongly recommend that students add to their knowledge of careers by conducting informational interviews, shadowing, engaging in part-time work, volunteering and interning.
Conduct Informational interviews with professionals in a specific career field. Consider asking the following questions:
What is a typical day like?
What do you like most about your job?
What are your greatest work-related challenges in this career?
What is a typical career path in your field?
What types of skills and/or training are needed for your job?
How did you get into this type of work? What is your background?
What suggestions do you have for anyone who is interested in getting into this type of work?

Shadow a professional in their work setting
Consider part-time work and volunteer opportunities
            Intern in the work setting being considered in the future
The Career Services Center at Ashland University is happy to partner with students seeking opportunities to “experience” careers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Stresses of Spring

We are excited for our first Monthly Minute that is brought to you from Kerri Carmichael with the Ashland University Counseling Center:

The Stresses of Spring
Kerri Carmichael MA, PC-CR, DCC
Oscar McKnight, Ph.D., PCC-S, LSW, DCC

The spring semester means different things to different students; some see it as a few short weeks of academics punctuated by time to relax in the sun on spring break. Others, however, see it as a "crunch time"—one that can produce all sorts of anxiety. It's at these times that the Ashland University Counseling Center becomes particularly helpful. Located in the Student Center, open five days a week while students are in session, it's staffed with two full-time professionals and two graduate-level interns whose job it is to help our students cope with the stresses academic life can bring.

We have found that as students progress through their academic journey at AU, they encounter different stressors at different times, but they often feel particularly stressed during the spring semester. Here are a few of the more common situations we see, and what you as a parent can do to help your student through them.

FRESHMEN often feel anxiety about the transition from school to home for the summer. Having experienced the freedom of being on their own and setting their own rules for the first time, they're not sure what to expect when they're back under their parents' roofs.

            You can help by sitting down with your student, and chatting about what
            you expect from them when they return home. Talk about curfews, rules
            and chores, and do your best to listen as much as you talk in order to
            hear their concerns.


SOPHOMORES often struggle with the concern that they may have chosen the wrong major, causing them to feel anxious since they are now finishing their second year of college. Summer employment is also a cause of concern for this group.

            You can make a big difference by sitting down with your student and
            asking about both their classes and their major, and trying to gauge how
            happy they are. If it's apparent that a change in major needs to occur, it's
            best to be supportive, as they are more likely to succeed in a major they enjoy.



JUNIORS tend to start worrying about summer internships and field placements.

You can encourage your student to seek assistance at the Career Services Center on campus and to keep open the lines of communication with their professors and advisors.


SENIORS often struggle with the reality of leaving the college lifestyle and entering the "real world." This is the time when seeking full-time employment or looking into graduate school is top of mind.

            You can help your student network if you know of any available jobs.
            However, it's important to remember that your student needs to find
            employment he or she will take pleasure in, not something you as a
            parent want them to do.

When all is said and done, nothing is as important as simply keeping an open mind and having a listening ear available. And if your student needs a little extra help to deal with all of the stresses that spring can bring, encourage them to visit the AU Counseling Center anytime.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Welcome!

Welcome to the Student Success and Retention Monthly Minute!  We are really excited you are here and hope that you can use this page to get quick updates on what is happening in the life of your college student.
 
Our hope is that you stop by monthly to read about what the different offices on campus have to say about the happenings at Ashland.  Our first official Minute will be posted in April. 

Should you ever have any questions about what's happening, or concerns about your student, please know that Kathy and I are here to help and welcome your phone calls and emails. 
We look forward to partnering with you and your student over the next four years!