Dear Parents & Families of First Year Students in Their Second Semester,
The second year of college brings new challenges and opportunities. We understand the experience can vary greatly depending on students’ initiative, their level of commitment to their chosen major, and their ability to explore different living options. Some students experience a “sophomore slump” and worry about choosing a permanent major, while others begin to identify their passions, taking them closer to a major that fits perfectly. Some students remain in on-campus housing, understanding the benefits of living on campus, while others take the leap to off-campus living. Moving off-campus can be a great next step for some students, but others may feel disconnected from the campus community and seek out other resources to fill the void. With this great variance comes a need for programming to assist students in making the best choices for their future.
At Colorado State University, we recognize the need to support students in this new environment and have developed a number of programs aimed at supporting this unique set of circumstances. Specifically, Residence Life, Off-Campus Life, academic advisors for undeclared students, and Orientation and Transition Programs offer a range of programs and services to support second year students, including the Year 2 @ CSU Community in Laurel Village (offering all the benefits of living on-campus), a range of programs aimed at assisting students in exploring majors, and the Year 2 @ CSU program. The Year 2 @ CSU program is designed to meet the needs of second year students through workshops at The Institute for Learning & Teaching (TILT), outdoor programs such as hiking, an outdoor trip to Pingree Park, rock climbing, and blogs developed to listen to other second year students’ experiences. First year students in their second semester are encouraged to participate in all of these programs, starting with the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference on February 18, 2014.
As a Vice President and a parent of college students, I believe in the power of supporting students’ transitions from their first year to their second year at Colorado State University. While we communicate to students about the resources offered throughout this special edition newsletter, this newsletter is geared toward informing parents and families of the services dedicated to students moving in to their second year. Please take a few minutes to read through it and contact Kacee Collard Jarnot, the Director of Parent & Family Programs, with any questions you may have. She can be reached at 970-491-6680 or at email@example.com.
Best wishes for a successful spring semester for your students.
Dr. Blanche Hughes
Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
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The Second Year Student Experience: A Time for Challenge & Opportunity
by Keith Lopez, Assistant Director, Orientation and Transition Programs
In terms of the transition into a second year of college, there are many things students need to navigate differently than what is experienced during the first year. While there are clear challenges students face during this time, the second year of college provides students with the opportunity to reflect on purpose and make meaning out of what they are experiencing in college.
Challenges in the Second Year
Academic: Some of the challenges students face in a second year include a “sophomore slump” which is marked by reduced motivation and or declining academic performance. Other challenges for students during the second year can include entering into an intensified curriculum or a period in which academic difficulty increases as they begin to take courses in their major of study. This difficulty and/or exposure to courses in their major may cause second year students to reflect on their fit or interest with their selected major and at times, sometimes causes students to reflect on whether or not they’d like to change their major. Also, for students who remain undeclared, pressure to declare a major or a course of study may exist (some of this pressure is created by students’ social circles, university policies, and individual pressure to determine a focus for study).
Housing: There are a multitude of housing options on campus for second year students. For students who choose to move off-campus in their second year, there can be unique challenges associated with living off-campus for the first time. These can include (but are not limited to): learning how to acquire basic life skills (paying bills, maintaining a clean living environment, working with landlords or leasing agents, living with multiple roommates, etc.) and maintaining a sustained connection to the CSU campus community. It’s important for students who move off-campus in their second year to find and maintain a connection to CSU instead of just arriving for class and then leaving to return home.
Values & Relationships: The second year of college can be a time of intense reflection where students begin reflecting on their personal values and decisions as well as their identity and peer relationships. It isn’t unheard of for peer relationships to begin to change in a students’ second year, as they are no longer friends with the same individuals based off of convenience or proximity. Students will now have to work towards maintaining relationships with others, and at times the process of values clarification is related to the development of mature and meaningful interpersonal relationships.
Typical Issues Experienced in the Second Year:
- Reduced motivation & declining academic performance
- “Newness” has worn off and reality hits, leaving students feeling as if the institution is not as supportive as in the first year
- Intensified curriculum
- Choosing a major or degree path
- Feelings of a lack of connection to campus
- Peer challenges
- Identity exploration
- Time management and balancing levels of involvement
Opportunity in the Second Year
While all of the challenges exist for students in the second year, this is also a time of increased opportunity for students. The second year provides the opportunity for students to explore, figure out what they are passionate about and truly reflect on their purpose and how they are beginning to make meaning out of their college experience. It allows students to seek out new opportunities on campus, new connections, new peer relationships, new confidence in who they are becoming as an adult, new ways to challenge themselves academically, and new ways to learn and grow as an individual.
Recommended Ways to Help Prepare Your Student for Their Second Year:
As the spring semester gets underway, below are some questions to ask your student as they begin to think about their second year of school:
- What do you believe will be different between your first-year and second year?
- How do you feel about your major? Or if Undeclared, what are you passionate about? What interests do you have? How does that relate to majors offered?
- What is your relationship with your professors? Your academic advisor?
- How do you anticipate remaining connected to campus in your second year? What are you looking forward to getting involved in?
Year 2 @ CSU: Second Year Program
Year 2 @ CSU is an entire program coordinated by Orientation and Transition Programs dedicated to students during their second year. Students have the opportunity to participate in Academic Transition Workshops, Faculty Dinners, Outdoor Experiences, an Alternative Spring Break, as well as read blogs from other students as they describe what it was like during their second year! Additionally, as part of Year 2 @ CSU, students receive a monthly e-newsletter with information, resources and ways to connect as a second year student! For more information, visit the Year 2 @ CSU website.
For additional information on second year programs, view the Students as Emerging Adults: A Transitions Guide for Parents & Families on the Parent & Family Programs website or contact Orientation and Transition Programs at (970) 491-6011 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Residence Hall Myths
by Tonie Miyamoto, Director of Communications & Sustainability, Housing & Dining Services
The campus newspaper has been full of ads the past few weeks enticing students to live in various apartment communities and rental properties around Fort Collins. As we in Housing & Dining Services prepare to offer residence hall students the option to return to the halls next fall, we thought it would be helpful to provide some information and discussion points to help you and your student decide which housing option is the best fit.
We often hear rumors that we have no space in the halls for returning students or that no returning students live on campus. Here are some myth-busters that may help clarify campus housing options for returning students.
- Myth: the halls are only for first year students.
- Fact: with recent renovations and the brand new Laurel Village coming online in Fall 2014, we have more than 1,200 spaces to offer to returning and transfer students. Returning students get first choice of premium spaces including singles, doubles-as-single, and new and recently renovated halls.
- Myth: no returning/upperclass students live in the halls.
- Fact: over 20% of the students in the halls are returning, transfer, and upperclass students and we’d like to see that number grow. We have designated communities and wings set aside for returning and transfer students so they can live with other upperclass students.
- Myth: dining plans don’t offer returning students enough flexibility.
- Fact: the U Plan, offered only to returning and transfer students, offers maximum flexibility with just 5 meals per week, 20 bonus meals, and $150 RamCash. New and recently renovated student kitchens in the halls provide space for students to cook when they want to and the dining centers offer balanced meals for students when they need them.
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Benefits to Living On Campus & Important Dates
by Tonie Miyamoto, Director of Communications & Sustainability, Housing & Dining Services
Data from the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) highlights some important academic benefits to living on campus:
- Students who live on campus have a higher GPA than students who live off campus
- Students who live on campus are more likely to be retained by Colorado State
- On campus residents report a higher level of campus support than students who live off campus
- On campus residents report a higher quality of relationships with faculty members and other students than students who live off campus
We know that some of the off campus apartments offer very appealing incentives like hot tubs, tanning beds, and flat screen TVs when students sign a lease. While on campus housing has a different focus (think higher GPAs), we do have some great incentives for students who choose to live on campus next fall:
- 2013-2014 room and board rates are frozen for returning students for 2014-2015
- $0 due at signing (deposit from this year will roll over to next fall)
- Room and board includes all utilities, high speed internet, and cable and is billed directly to CSU student accounts where it will be covered by financial aid, if applicable
- All applications submitted by March 31 will be eligible for a drawing that includes:
- 1 grand prize of free Room & Board for the 2014-2015 academic year
- 5 prizes of $500 (choice of credit to CSU Bookstore, discount on Room & Board, or iPad Air)
- Location, location, location – on campus living is the only option that puts students in the heart of campus with easy access to our award-winning Rec Center, library, classrooms, and athletic and cultural events
- Student support – living in the residence halls provides a built-in support network that ranges from peer mentors to live-in staff to safety officers and SafeWalk, as well as academic and social resources
Important dates for fall 2014 room selection:
- February 3-4: Students who are eligible to return to their current room may select it
- February 6-7: Groups of 3 or more students who wish to be roommates/suitemates can select adjacent rooms/suites; participants in Housing & Dining Services student leadership can select their choice of rooms (RHA, Hall Council, DSAC, Eco Leaders)
- February 11-13: Displaced students (students who are unable to retain current room/hall due to Residential Learning Community or other programmatic requirements) may select their room
- February 17-March 31: Open selection; all students may select any available space
- April 1: Room Selection closed; current students who still wish to apply for housing must complete a New Student Housing Application
We hope this information is useful as you and your student discuss living options for next year. If you have any questions about campus living options, please visit our website, email us at email@example.com, or call (970) 491-4719.
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2nd Year Themed Floor in Laurel Village
by Teresa Metzger, Assistant Director for Residence Education, Housing & Dining Services
Starting next fall, an exciting new opportunity will be available to 2nd year students who want to return to the halls with an interest in making the most out of their time as a 2nd year student. In a co-sponsored initiative, Residence Life and Orientation and Transition Programs (OTP), the Year 2 @ CSU community will be offered in newly constructed Laurel Village. Forty suite-style rooms have been designated for students to live a community that is focused on the second year experience. Career workshops, outdoor adventure experiences, service learning projects and experiences will be part of this year long residential experience. This themed community will ask resident to sign a learning agreement. No class is required to participate in this community. Any first year student is welcomed to apply to live in this exciting new community! For more information, students should contact Teresa Metzger at Teresa.Metzger@colostate.edu or stop by info tables at the Durrell Center or the Rams Horn in January when they return to the halls for the spring semester.
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Is Your Student Ready to Move Off Campus?
by Emily Allen, Off-Campus Life & Laura Giles, Residence Life
In chatting with today’s CSU student, they share that they spend a great deal of time prior to coming to CSU considering which residence hall to choose. Some of the things they considered were: how close would it be to my classes; what have I heard about it; does it have the best dining center? Flash forward to today, and now that same choosey student can only think of one thing: I want to live off campus… anywhere off campus.
Has your student truly spent time thinking about all that comes with renting off campus and are they ready for the leap? There are several things to consider when making the move off campus. If your student wants to live in a single family home, are they ready to shovel the side walk (even over the break)? Do they know that a noise complaint off campus comes with a citation upwards of $1,000 and a criminal misdemeanor on their record? Roommate conflicts (often stemming from “who ate my expensive Greek yogurt?!”) can’t be solved by moving rooms, and often results in having to break an expensive lease. Do they realize that Resident Assistants (RAs) won’t be the ones knocking at their door when there is a complaint? Your student’s new “RAs” are Fort Collins Police Officers.
This article isn’t meant to scare you and your student. It’s meant to provide some discussion questions (below) to help guide a conversation with your student to help determine if they are ready to live off campus or would benefit from another year on campus.
- Is your student ready to negotiate a lease with a landlord and handle any financial or legal issues that may arise from late payments, lease violations, poor property management, or sub-leasing policies?
- Will your student be able to manage apartment/house maintenance (may include yard work, shoveling snow, making minor repairs and/or contacting landlord to report needed repairs)?
- Does your student have the skills to interact with neighbors and handle potential noise complaints with roommates and/or violations with Fort Collins Police?
- Does your student have a good plan for commuting to and from campus? Are they prepared to wake up earlier for class and make contingency plans in case of inclement weather, a delayed bus, etc.?
- Is your student financially ready to balance rent payments, split utilities with roommates, and budget for expenses related to meals, internet, cable, and home maintenance?
- Is your student prepared to cook meals, go grocery shopping, handle kitchen clean-up and dishes, and/or negotiate food-sharing with roommates?
- Is your student committed to setting quiet hours and designated study times to ensure that academics remain front and center off campus? If they encounter academic challenges, are they prepared and willing to seek appropriate resources on their own?
Here are some considerations to discuss with your student about remaining on campus:
- Students who live on campus for a second year have higher GPAs, are more likely to be retained by CSU, and are more likely to graduate.
- On campus residents have built-in resources that include RAs, academic support, health/mental health support, and easy access to The Rec, the library, and sporting and cultural events.
- Room and board billing is charged directly to student accounts with no roommate negotiations for utilities or unexpected expenses.
- Returning students get first choice of premium rooms on campus and your student can still live with their friends (even if they want a single room) by choosing rooms in the same suite, the same floor, or the same hall.
- Returning students are eligible for the U Plan (dining plan with just 5 meals per week). The halls also offer student kitchens for students who would like cook on occasion and have the dining center available at other times.
If you and your student are interested in exploring a second year living on campus, please visit the Live On website for details, important dates, and incentives available for next fall. Room Selection begins February 3, 2014. Questions about off-campus living can be directed to Off-Campus Life.
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Declaring or Changing Majors
by Melanie Smith Nichols, Academic Advisor, Center for Advising & Student Achievement
While most students focus on choosing a major, choosing a concentration or area of interest within a particular major can shape the trajectory of a student’s major and, eventually, their career. For example, Horticulture, a major in our College of Agriculture Sciences, has 6 concentrations including floriculture, horticulture business management, horticulture science, food crops, horticulture therapy, and viticulture and enology. Business Administration majors have 6 concentrations to choose from: accounting, computer information systems, finance, marketing, management and real estate. So how does a student know what concentrations or areas of interest are available in their major? And how do they choose the one that is best for them?
A good place to start gathering information is CASA’s Academic and Career Horizons website, a resource on the CASA webpage that describes each major and the concentrations available within that particular major. It also lists traits most commonly found in people in those majors and potential careers. This is an excellent place to start when researching the major or concentration that may be right for your student. A visit to the department’s website will give a student more in-depth information about concentrations. After a student has gathered information about the possibilities within a major, a meeting with their academic advisor is the next step. The advisor will be able to clarify any questions about the concentration and help the student create an academic plan for graduation.
Students that have multiple interests may find departmental or interdisciplinary minors useful. In addition, minors show employers that a student is well-rounded and can be useful in supplementing a major. Business majors can add a foreign language or an economics minor to supplement their major to give them more depth in a field related to their interests. Some helpful tips for students to choose a concentration or minor:
- Do your homework: researching the areas you are interested in can help with clarity and direction.
- Look into the past: what have you liked or disliked about past work experiences? Past courses?
- Be bold: instead of shying away from opportunities because of indecision, be proactive in seeking out opportunities that will help you make a well-informed decision.
- Embrace change: if you start in one concentration or minor and decide to change to another, it’s not the end of the world. Focusing on one area does not mean you are locked into it for the rest of your life. Use that experience to grow.
- Follow your passion: Let your natural instincts guide you and your program will fall into place.
Students should make an appointment with their academic advisor to go over their academic plan and discuss appropriate classes for registration now. Class registration for the summer & fall semesters will be here soon, so the earlier your student can make an appointment, the better! Also, remind your student to look for HOLDS on their RAMweb account that could prevent them from registering and have your student contact their advisor ASAP!
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Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference & the Exploring Majors Fair
by Daniel Haddad, Graduate Assistant, Orientation & Transition Programs
Getting to Year 2 @ CSU is a one day conference for first-year students (in their second semester). This year’s conference will take place on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 in the Lory Student Center North. Students are able to select sessions throughout the day applicable to assisting students’ transition to a second year at CSU. Research shows as students near their second year of college, they begin to feel challenges associated with academics, establishing future goals, finances, and feeling a connection to campus. This conference is an opportunity for students to learn the resources and support available to help them succeed on campus next year.
Benefits for students who attend the conference:
- Make connections with other as they begin to think about their second year
- Networking with campus faculty, staff and other first-year students
- Learn valuable skills that will help during the second year
- Feel acknowledged as part of the greater campus community
- Have a greater understanding of the resources available that support students in their second year
- Learn more about “Year 2 @ CSU” Second Year Program
Session topics include:
- Housing Options for your Second Year
- Career and Major Exploration
- Stress Management
- Finding Internship and Research Opportunities
- Motivation, Goal Setting and Balance
- Paying for College
- Education Abroad Opportunities
Sessions will be offered at multiple times throughout the day, so a student can choose sessions that work with their schedule. The conference is free to attend, and students that pre-register receive a free “Year 2 @ CSU” water bottle. To get more information, to see a complete listing of session, or to have your student register, visit the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU conference website.
Additionally, first-year students are encouraged to attend the Exploring Majors Fair on Wednesday, February 19, 2-14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre. At this event, students can discover all that CSU has to offer by previewing more than 65 majors across the eight colleges and speak with representatives from each college.
For questions, or additional information, feel free to contact Orientation and Transition Programs at (970) 491-6011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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