Dear Parents and Families,
Happy New Year! We hope you’ve enjoyed the break with your student and that your students are rejuvenated and ready to be back on campus. The semester will be in full swing before we know it!
This edition of the newsletter focuses on a multitude of issues that come up in the spring semester – everything from upcoming events (see information for Spring 2014 Graduation and Fall 2014 Homecoming & Family Weekend in the sidebar), to studying abroad, to tips for moving off campus from Student Legal Services, but I’d like to take a few minutes here to address those of you who have students needing an academic redirect.
As I noted in the December 2013 newsletter, students who didn’t perform well academically last semester have options, but need to take the initiative to jumpstart their forward progress. If your student is in this category, encourage him or her to contact their academic advisor immediately. This person is your student’s best resource in determining next steps.
I also think family support in this process is critical. Attending college is an expensive endeavor and it is important to be sure that students want to be here and have the drive to do well academically before embarking on a second semester. If I think back to my first semester in college, I earned a less-than-glowing grade point average. When I showed my dad my grades at the end of the semester, he was frustrated and asked me to sit at the kitchen table to make a list of what went wrong. He asked me to think about study habits, my social life, and my investment in my academic career. After I created the laundry list of what I didn’t do well in my first semester (at the very top of my list was admitting my social life outweighed my academic life and that I struggled with time management), he challenged me to write a list of tangible things I could do differently to achieve better results in the spring semester. As a first-generation college student, I struggled to identify concrete items, but as I reviewed my class syllabi from the fall semester, I began to see what I missed.
- I found small gaps in my class schedule I could use to study in the library.
- Each faculty member listed office hours, so I built them in to my schedule and indicated I would go introduce myself & visit after each test to review what I got wrong on the exam.
- I knew my undergraduate institution offered tutoring & academic workshops, but never accessed those resources in the fall because I was “smarter” than that. I realized they may actually be helpful and identified 2 tutoring sessions & a workshop that fit into my schedule.
At the end of this exercise, my dad asked me to sign it as a contract for success in the spring semester and made it clear the consequence of having 2 consecutive semesters of a low GPA would warrant me paying my way through college. During the spring semester, he would periodically check in with me to see if I was in the library as I had identified in my “contract” or if I followed up with a faculty member on a recent test he knew I was nervous about taking. Somehow, he managed to support me instead of “checking in” on me and I will always be grateful for his approach to this situation. He was able to help me learn how to manage my business on campus using tools he knew I had to succeed.
I share this with you not because I believe it is the absolute answer to a bad semester academically, but because there were some key things he did that helped me improve. First, he asked me to identify what went wrong. Second, he asked for concrete changes I could make to be more successful the next semester. Each student has his or her “worst” academic semester of their college experience. If your student is in this category starting the spring 2014 semester, I’d encourage you to ask about their drive to continue. You should hear tangible changes to their academic success plan, including visiting faculty office hours, joining study groups, prioritizing academics by not participating in a specific social activity in the spring, and using the resources available on campus, such as The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) or the Writing Center. This individual initiative, combined with success strategies from academic advisors, will set students on the right path to repairing their GPA.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read through this newsletter, which includes information on CSU’s new health insurance requirement, and as always, please call or email with questions or concerns.
Here’s to a great semester, Kacee
Kacee Collard Jarnot
Director of Parent and Family Programs
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
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Career Center Insights: Lions, Tigers, & Networking...Oh, My!
by The Career Center Staff
The very sound of the work “networking” often strikes a fear in students. However, networking is vital to a successful job or internship search. Senior Associate Director of Employer Relations for the CSU Career Center, Katie Flint shares, “The word ‘networking’ often brings up feelings of anxiety for people, especially students. They think of it as a forced and fake activity. But once you explain to them that it’s simply about building connections and point to all the examples of where they’ve already done that, ‘networking’ becomes a little less scary.”
Family members can help support their student through encouraging networking as a natural part of their college experience. Not only will this help support your student in feeling more confident to participate in networking activities it will also help them move toward a successful future. Flint offers, “Last year, 50% of CSU graduates reported that they found a job through their connections, i.e. family/friends, CSU faculty/staff, employer panels/presentations, career counselors. Statistics such as this point to why it’s so important that students become comfortable building new relationships early in their college tenure because practicing these valuable networking skills has a clear payoff.”
The spring semester is an ideal time for students to participate in networking opportunities on campus. “The Career Center offers multiple opportunities for students to learn how to network and practice their networking skills. Between Career Fairs, Industry Connect events, hiring mixers, employer panels, and more, there’s no excuse why a student shouldn’t be exposed to a variety of environments where they can build new, professional relationships”, said Flint.
A few networking events for your students to add to their calendars:
For a complete listing of Career Center events visit our website.
The Career Center offers several preparatory workshops to help demystify networking and the job search process. Encourage your student to actively check the Career Center calendar of events for updates and additions. Practice makes perfect, networking is no exception. The more practice your student has the more comfortable she will become participating in networking activities.
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Assessment Results on FERPA: Helping Students Advocate for Themselves
by Jody Donovan, Assistant Vice President Dean of Students
The Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was passed in 1974 and has since been amended numerous times. FERPA governs the privacy of education records from kindergarten through higher education. Based on this legislation, parents have certain rights and protections with regard to their children’s primary and secondary education records. However, when a student (at any age) enters a postsecondary institution or when the student is 18, those rights and protections transfer to the student. We understand this can cause a bit of consternation on the part of parents and families who invest significant emotion, time, and finances to support their students’ educational journeys.
It is important to know Colorado State University complies with the FERPA Act and regulations. We believe the transfer of rights and protections from parent or family member to the student is a milestone toward adulthood.
According to FERPA, students have the right to:
- Inspect and review their records;
- Request to amend their records;
- Limit the disclosure of public or directory information; and
- File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the university to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
Students also have the responsibility to:
- Read the Student Record Privacy Statement and Annual Notification under FERPA;
- Manage any restrictions on the disclosure of directory information; and
- Manage any consent/permission the student has given for disclosures when the student no longer wishes to permit such disclosures.
CSU students access and manage their educational records through their RAMweb account.
We’ve created a way for students to grant access to selected pieces of information to trusted individuals (like parents or family members!) through FAMweb. Students can grant access to their weekly class schedule, billing, financial aid, the 1098T, their end of term grades and their unofficial transcript. Students may also restrict access to any of these education records. Please note medical records, police records and counseling records are not governed by FERPA.
As I shared earlier, managing education records is an important milestone toward adulthood as students become more responsible for themselves, learn how to navigate complex bureaucracies, and self-advocate. It can be hard as a parent or family member to watch them struggle, but this truly is a major difference between K-12 education and higher education. We are here to coach parents and families to shift their parenting style from “doing for” to “guiding and supporting.” Students learn important assertive communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and self-advocacy skills when they are challenged to take a more adult role with respect to their education. Our goal is to partner with parents, families, and students toward a shared goal of graduating interdependent, educated, responsible adults. This goal can be achieved if we work together, sharing a common understanding and appreciation for Colorado State’s philosophy and practices related to helping students learn the important life skills of responsibility and self-advocacy.
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Balancing Independence and Support Resources: Mental Health
by Dr. Helen Bowden, Counseling Services, CSU Health Network
When your student began at CSU, you resolved you would stay in the background, allowing your children to make decisions for themselves as they grappled with becoming independent adults. As a parent or family member, you knew the training wheels on the “bike of life” had to come off- even if it meant a few scrapes and bruises.
The process of individuation is a natural part of human development, but natural doesn’t mean it’s easy for either the individual or their families! A certain amount of discomfort is to be expected when thrust into an environment in which one is responsible for their own welfare, decisions, and future life direction for the first time, as well as the consequences. So when should you step in to assist? When does a temporary case of “the blues” cross the line into more serious symptoms such as clinical depression?
The keys to sorting out natural lows from depression are severity, degree of impact on daily life, and duration. Clinical depression involves multiple symptoms that occur nearly every day for at least 2 weeks. These might include: feelings of sadness, irritability, sleep and appetite disturbance (too much or too little), feelings of hopelessness, poor self-esteem, loss of energy/motivation, diminished interest in previously pleasurable activities, moving/speaking more slowly than usual or showing increased signs of restlessness, reduced ability to concentrate, indecisiveness, and thoughts of harming oneself or others. Depressed individuals also may engage in increased substance use or self-harm behaviors to try to avoid or “numb” difficult feelings and thoughts. The symptoms also need to either be significantly distressing to your student or cause significant impairment in important areas of functioning (i.e., grades dropping, social withdrawal, neglecting hygiene, no longer showing interest in hobbies or friends, increased substance use, etc…). Any time a student expresses thoughts about self-harm or hurting others, it should be taken seriously and they should speak with a counselor about it!
The best thing you can do is to regularly express continued love and support, invite (not demand) your student to talk to you about it, and encourage seeking outside help such as counseling. You may have to repeat these many times before your student is willing to get help, so don’t give up or be put off by a negative response. Fortunately, there are many campus resources students can use before reaching crisis mode. Fee-paying students are eligible for drop-in services at the CSU Health Network Counseling Services in person or via phone (123 Aylesworth Hall or 970-491-6053) and 5 free individual counseling sessions per semester. We also offer free group counseling sessions and workshops for a wide range of concerns. For after-hours mental health emergencies (i.e., thoughts about harming self or others), our on-call counselor and campus police can be reached by calling 970-491-7111. Another resource is Student Case Management (970-491-8051); whenever crises impact academics, they can help your student get connected with the right campus resources and to interface with professors. You can also call SCM to give them information about your concerns regarding your student, or you can call the Tell Someone line (970-491-1350.)
It can certainly be tricky to balance fostering independence with providing loving guidance. Though most students are able to traverse the ebbs and flows of college life, there are some who get caught in a powerful undertow. Just remember, there is a life preserver – your love, support, and encouragement as well as seeking help when the currents feel too overwhelming. We’re always here if you need us!
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Parent Perspective: Parenting a College Student from Afar
by Christy Harris, CSU Parent of a Freshman
In 1987 I remember standing in my freshman dorm room and hugging my parents. When they turned to leave, we waved and I openly cried. They drove 33 “long” miles away I felt alone and scared. In 2013 I stood in another freshman dorm room with my arms around my oldest child, Andrew, and I thought, “He’s going to be fine because have raised him so far to be independent and smart. We’ve got this.” The very next day I flew 6,109 miles back to Seoul, Korea. Six THOUSAND, one hundred and nine miles away. My mind was racing with the “what-ifs”. It would take 24 hours to get back to him or he to us in an emergency – holidays, birthdays and family meals were a given “miss” – there would be no trips to home to be refreshed or comforted. Baptism by fire – welcome to living on your own, Andrew.
It goes without saying that we are not the typical CSU family. We are a military family and our “homes” change as often the weather in Colorado, but that does not stop us from wanting to support our student. The obvious challenge facing our family was the distance, but there was also the time zone dilemma, not to mention the sheer complexity of trying to connect over the vast expanse. We had to find a routine and a plan that worked for us.
Our family decided it was best to set communication goals. Andrew’s goal was to be thoughtful and text us throughout the week as a means of including us in his life. Our goal was to do the same and keep him connected to the people back at home. Although we never said, “Try to contact us “X” times a week,” he did manage to text about 5 times a week with a quick picture or reassuring words about his new friends and habits and we did the same. We sent photos of family meals, school events, award ceremonies, holiday celebrations and traditions….every little thing that meant something to him when he lived at home.
The second way we found to support him was through Facetime. At first we sat and tried to catch-up quickly, but we found that many times it was comforting to set the computer up in the corner and allow him to be “with us” and, for a brief moment, he is back at home in Seoul.
The third way we reach out over the miles and time zones is through care packages. They are never truly organized and usually we place a box in the living room and everyone drops random things in it to pull Andrew back to us for just a moment. We miss him and by placing our own letters or items in the box, our Andrew remembers that this box, like our family, is not predictable or perfectly packed, but we are thinking about him and we miss his presence.
It goes without saying that we miss our oldest child and the distance does not make it easier, but through thoughtful, weekly connections, we feel like we are able to build a bridge, not a rubber band to snap him back, that connects him to his past and allows him to freely move into his future.
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Help Your Student Have a Good Rental Experience
by Kathleen Harward, Director, Student Legal Services
There are good and bad landlords in Fort Collins and better and worse rental properties. To help your student choose well, please encourage the following:
- Be wary of signing a lease for a new property still being built. The lease likely states that if the property is not ready by start date, the landlord has no obligation to cover tenant costs caused by the delay. It also may keep the tenant bound to the lease even if the delay is significant.
- Some properties far from campus advertise bus service. Read the lease to find out if the bus service is actually an obligation of the landlord. Some leases say it is not, and the tenant will still be bound to the lease if the bus service is not provided.
- Don’t assume standard looking documents are fair. Read and understand every word of an Application form, as well as the Lease and any House Rules before signing.
- Don’t give more than a small payment with an Application form, less than $50. Some landlords collect large amounts, and the fine print of the Application may allow them to keep it if the tenant backs out. A tenant should not commit sizeable money until having time to read and analyze the lease. Ask for a blank lease at the earliest opportunity.
- View properties with a critical eye. Look for safety (outdoor lighting, secure doors and windows, trimmed bushes), good repair, functioning appliances and any signs of pests. Don’t be shy to flush toilets, run showers, faucets, garbage disposals, turn on stoves and microwaves, and check locks on windows and doors during viewing. Ask for a copy of the most recent furnace inspection.
- Pick roommates wisely. Roommate conflict leading to lease break is all too common and is expensive and painful for everyone. Ask potential roommates for references: talk to their prior roommates; discuss habits around noise, guests, drugs and alcohol use, and cleanliness.
- If considering violating the city’s occupancy limit of “three unrelated tenants”, discuss the risks with the attorneys at Student Legal Services before acting.
- Respect the risk to your co-signor. Most leases in Fort Collins bind roommates to “joint and several liability”, meaning each roommate is liable for all the obligations. This extends to the co-signor as well. Most landlords require a co-signor with a first time or financially dependent renter.
- Buy renter’s insurance. It’s only about $10/month and not only protects belongings, but also provides liability coverage in case the tenant is found negligent in damaging the landlord’s property. (such as water damage from broken pipes caused by setting the thermostat too low) Get quotes from your auto insurer and others.
- Extremely important! Document the condition of the property at move-in and again at move-out to protect the security deposit. Take pictures, or better yet, video, and make a check-in/check-out sheet noting all blemishes.
- Read more tips on the Student Legal Services leases website.
Student Legal Services’ experienced attorneys and staff will review leases and give warnings pertinent to particular situations. They are located in Room 182 of the Lory Student Center and will remain there throughout the Student Center’s renovations. Information on many legal topics can be found on our website.
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CSU Health Network: Student Health Insurance Requirement for Spring 2014
Colorado State University is implementing an all-student health insurance requirement beginning with the Spring 2014 semester. This requirement is new for domestic undergraduate students and will only affect those students taking 6 or more resident instruction credits. Information about the requirement is provided during Registration Ready for your student.
Ascension, a CSU contracted vendor, is managing the insurance waiver process for domestic students. Students who have not already "opted out" of the CSU Student Health Insurance Plan have been receiving weekly emails from email@example.com asking them to complete the waiver. At this point, approximately 5,000 students have not completed the waiver process. We believe many of these students are covered under their family health insurance plans and need to opt out to avoid an unnecessary charge of $1,445.00 to their student account. The health insurance waiver deadline for Spring 2014 is February 5, 2014. To opt out, students must copy and paste the link below into their web browser and complete the process below:
Once at the waiver portal, students should follow the instructions and provide your health insurance plan information. The process will take about 5 minutes to complete. Ascension will validate the plan and let your student know if your insurance was approved or if they need further information. Once approved, Ascension will notify CSU. The Student Health Insurance Plan will be cancelled and your student's account will be credited within 3 business days.
Please note, the deadline to waive is February 5, 2014.
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Is Your Student Considering Education Abroad?
by Chris Churma, Education Abroad Coordinator, Office of International Programs
Has your student thought about where in the world they will be next semester? Participating on an education abroad program is a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing opportunity with enormous benefits. Whether it be to learn a language, fulfill major requirements, or simply to focus on general electives, education abroad sets students apart from their peers, enhances their studies, and engages them as citizens of the world.
The CSU Education Abroad Office recognizes the important role that parents and family play in a student's education abroad experience. Our office works with students to examine the options available for an education abroad experience, paying attention to their academic, financial, and personal needs. Once students select a program and are accepted, we work to prepare them for the academic and intercultural experiences they may encounter abroad.
Where Can Students Study?
Opportunities exist for most majors to go abroad to nearly any country of the world. CSU-sponsored and affiliated programs are offered in Africa and the Middle East, Asia, Europe/Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania. With approval, students may also have an education abroad experience through an unaffiliated program or enroll directly in a foreign university.
What Can Students Study?
From animal production in France, intensive language in China, and field-based research in Costa Rica to media studies in Europe – the possibilities are endless! Some programs will focus on a particular field of study; others will offer a general curriculum. Students study in a foreign language or in English. Instructional offerings in English are plentiful – even in many non-English speaking countries!
Students may take classes that apply to their major or minor requirements or take a combination of coursework while earning general elective credit and fulfilling All-University Core Curriculum (AUCC) requirements. The key to staying on track toward graduation is early planning. Talk with your students about how they can include an international experience into their CSU experience. Encourage them to talk with their academic advisor about including an education abroad experience into their degree program. This will help them to see which courses may be taken abroad and assist them in selecting a program.
Where Can Students Go for More Information?
With so many programs to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The Education Abroad Office, located in Laurel Hall, is the central resource for information on opportunities abroad. The Education Abroad Office maintains reference materials on a wide variety of education abroad and internship programs, short-term work and volunteer opportunities, and grants and scholarships as well as resources for student travel abroad. Education Abroad advisors are available to assist students in learning how to research programs, to identify those that meet University requirements for credit transfer, and to answer questions they may have. Advisors are also available to help answer questions that parents and family may also have.
General advising hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
More information can be found on the Education Abroad website, which includes information specifically for parents and families. You may also contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 970-491-6342.
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Help Your Student Receive the College Opportunity Fund Stipend
by Vanessa Hayward, COF Coordinator, Student Financial Services
What if there was a fund of money for Colorado resident undergraduate students to help offset the cost of tuition? What if it required neither a lengthy application nor qualification based on need? And, it’s not a loan. Sounds like a great opportunity, right?!
As the College Opportunity Fund Coordinator at CSU, I am happy to tell you that this program does exist. It is called the College Opportunity Fund (COF). The COF stipend is funded by state tax payers to benefit undergraduate Colorado residents attending public institutions and participating private institutions. Each year, the state of Colorado sets the stipend amount; for the 2013-2014 school year, the amount is $64 per COF eligible credit. Students receive the stipend for undergraduate level courses, up to 145 credits. If a student surpasses 145 credits during their undergraduate career, there are waiver options available.
How do I help my student receive the College Opportunity Fund Stipend? Simply have your student visit their Billing Information on RAMweb; authorized parents and other trusted individuals can see billing information on FAMweb. Spring 2014 COF stipends have applied to bills. If you or your COF eligible student doesn’t see a Spring 2014 COF stipend on the bill, see the Alerts Section on RAMweb (upper right on the homepage). There will be COF alerts advising action to be taken including application, authorization and providing Social Security Number to CSU. The application is a one-time action; the authorization can be a one-time action if your student selects “Lifetime Authorization”. I recommend Lifetime Authorization as it eases the burden on your student; your student can change their authorization at any time during the semester. Students have until the last day of finals to take action via RAMweb to receive COF for the current semester.
If you or your student needs any assistance with COF, please feel free to contact Student Financial Services. Alternatively, you may contact me directly at 970.491.5021 or email@example.com. It is my pleasure to assist your student and your family!
You can gain more information on the College Opportunity Fund on the Student Financial Services website or through College Assist.