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How can you monitor your college student's grades?

September 12, 2017

By Judy Razo

How can you monitor your college student's grades?

When your child goes to college, your engagement with them changes. You can’t volunteer at the school, they won’t be living at home, you can’t keep track of study habits, and the academic advisor is not allowed to share your student’s academic information.

That’s right. By law, the only person allowed to receive your child’s grades and GPA is your child. Now that they are in college, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) classifies your child as a responsible adult and therefore protects their right to privacy.

So how can you check grades when your son or daughter doesn’t have to show them to you?

  1. Trust your child.
    Start by acknowledging that your child is now considered an adult and therefore respect them as one. This will only strengthen your relationship and keep the lines of communication open between you, which in turn will make your child feel comfortable enough to show you his or her grades, no matter what they look like.
  2. Agree to share grades.
    Before your student leaves for college, make an agreement for when he or she will share grades. This will set expectations and help keep your child on track as he or she keeps in mind the agreement to share grades after midterms and at the end of the semester.
  3. Offer incentives.
    If you are able to, you could offer to pay tuition in exchange for a strong GPA. You could also incentivize your student by offering to increase the monthly stipend or upgrade their living or lifestyle arrangements each semester contingent on academic progress.
  4. Understand their degree plan.
    Take your parent engagement level a step beyond just grades—ask your student to walk you through their degree plan and sit down at the end of each semester to check off the completed classes. Stay open-minded to your child’s choices and always be supportive if he or she chooses to change his or her major or area of study.

Remember to be confident that you raised a well-rounded and prepared child. This is the opportunity to allow all of the things you taught him or her to kick in; you just have to be patient, open-minded, and give it some time. Your child will apply what you have taught him or her and learn new techniques that will hopefully pay off.

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4 Ways to Keep Your College Student's Grades in Check

August 1, 2017

By Judy Razo

4 Ways to Keep Your College Student's Grades in Check

Parenting is different when your child is in college. Your child might not live at home so you can't keep track of study habits and you're no longer entitled to receive your student's grades.

So how can you keep those grades in check when your son or daughter doesn’t have to show them to you?

  1. Trust your child.
    Start by acknowledging that your child is now considered an adult, and therefore, you should respect and trust them as one. This will only strengthen your relationship and keep the lines of communication open between you, which in turn will make your child feel comfortable enough to show you their grades, no matter what they look like.
  2. Establish a protocol for academic struggles.
    Before your child starts college, discuss a protocol in case they have trouble with a class or grades begin to slip. Present it as a “just-in-case” plan that both of you hope you won’t have to use.

    As a parent you have high expectations for your child. As a son or daughter, your child doesn’t want to hear that you think they're going to fail, so be tactful in your delivery. Acknowledge that going to college is very different than going to high school and this plan will provide wiggle room as your child adjusts.
  3. Agree to share grades.
    Before your student leaves for college, agree on when they should share their grades. This will set expectations and keep your child on track as they remember the agreement to share grades after midterms and at the end of the semester.

    The agreement will vary depending on the relationship between you and your child. If you are able to, you could offer to pay tuition in exchange for a strong GPA. You could also incentivize your student by offering to increase the monthly stipend or upgrade their living or lifestyle arrangements each semester contingent on academic progress.
  4. Walk through their degree plan together.
    Lastly, you can take your parent engagement level a step beyond just grades by having your student walk you through their degree plan and sit down at the end of each semester to check off the completed classes. Stay open-minded to your child’s choices and be supportive if they choose to change their major.

Remember to be confident that you raised a well-rounded and prepared child. This is the opportunity to allow all of the things you taught them to kick in; you just have to be patient, open-minded, and give it some time. Your child will apply what you have taught them and learn new techniques that will pay off.

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How to Guide Your Teenager Toward a Career

April 25, 2017

By Jessica Vician

How to Guide Your Teenager Toward a Career | Guiding your teenager toward a career requires several steps, but can provide a glimpse into the future so that they can make good, educated choices along the way and land a great first job. | An instructor shows college students a graph on a tablet during class.

We all want our children to be successful in life, and that often includes finding a fulfilling career after school.

As your teenager nears high school graduation and considers colleges to attend, it helps to have an idea of the type of career they want to pursue. This knowledge will help them choose a college with a good program in that field and gain valuable experience in internships, extracurricular activities, and college jobs.

Guiding your teenager toward a career requires several steps, but can provide a glimpse into the future so that they can make good, educated choices along the way and land a great first job.

First, find out if your teenager already has ideas about what they want to do after high school or college.

My teen knows their future career
If they already know what they want to do after school, then follow these steps:

  1. Shadow people in the profession.
    An understanding of the daily reality for the job—not just the more glamorous overview—will help your teen determine if they really want that job or if it sounds better than it is. It also gives your teen the opportunity to ask what experience is necessary and what the career path is like, so they know how much school and/or training is required and can imagine themselves forging a long career in that field.
  2. Research college programs in your teenager’s area of interest.
    When searching programs, consider placement rate after graduation to anticipate how much help the school provides in helping students find a post-college job.

    Think about how realistic it is for your teenager to attend a school with a strong program in their desired field. For example, if you live in a landlocked state like Colorado and your teen wants to study marine biology, they will likely go to school on a coast. Can your family afford out-of-state tuition? Is your teen emotionally prepared to live far away from family?

My teen doesn’t know their future career
If your teenager doesn’t know what they want to do after high school, start having conversations about their interests to narrow down potential career options.

  1. Ask the right questions.
    In this New York Times article, a career services director encourages parents to ask the following questions]: “What skills do you have? What kinds of people do you like to work with? In what kind of environment?”

    These questions help your teen learn what they’re looking for in a career so they can explore specific options.

  2. Identify likes and dislikes.
    Ask your teenager to identify what they like and strongly dislike. That information can steer them toward or away from some careers.

    For instance, if your child is an introvert, rule out sales jobs, as they require a thick skin and an outgoing personality. If your child loves video games and has basic coding skills, explore a career in designing video or computer games.

  3. Determine strengths and weaknesses.
    What does your teen see as their biggest strength? Whether it’s a personality or academic strength, your teen knows themself and their skills best. As this Chicago Tribune article suggests, teens will make better career and school choices the more they know and understand themselves.

Even after guiding your teenager toward a career, it’s okay if they change their mind or veer off path. Those experiences will ultimately lead them to another job or career. As their parent, you don’t need to push them toward a specific industry or field. Encourage them to consider their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and narrow the list from there. It’s all part of the process of finding their own success.

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Parent Engagement in High School

November 29, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Parent Engagement in High School | Parents can facilitate discussions about a healthy lifestyle, including character, self-esteem, and relationships to help them become a well-adjusted adult and a strong candidate for college. | Two teenagers walk to class with books in tow.

High school is a big test for parent engagement. While it can be a time for parents to relax as their teenagers become more independent and take on more responsibilities, it’s also important for parents to facilitate discussions about a healthy lifestyle, including character, self-esteem, and relationships. As your teenager becomes an adult, these important skills and traits will help them become a well-adjusted adult and a strong candidate for college.

Emphasize Character
Since your teenager was a baby, he or she has learned the values and morals that are important to your family, which have shaped his or her personality and character. Now, your teenager is exposed to new ways of thinking and behaving every day. While it’s important for your teen to think for him or herself, you can reinforce those strong values and emphasize the importance of having a strong character.

For example, if your teen wants to quit a sport or a club because it’s too hard, discuss the importance of overcoming challenges and working hard. If he or she is challenging curfew, talk about responsibility. As you apply the concepts of these values to your teenager’s life, he or she will learn how his or her character influences everyday decisions.

Promote Healthy Relationships
As your teen develops stronger friendships, he or she may also start dating more seriously in high school. While you don’t have as much control over who your child dates or spends time with, you still have the power to encourage healthy relationships.

Think about what a healthy relationship means to you. Model that behavior with your parenting partner or significant other. Talk to your teenager about what makes a healthy relationship: open communication, mutual respect, trust, etc. Also discuss what makes an unhealthy relationship: constant fighting, feeling small or unimportant, and violence.

Learn to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and how to help your teen get out of it here.

Facilitate a Healthy Lifestyle
Teenagers are busy. Between school, sports, extracurriculars, and spending time with friends, it’s hard for parents to keep track of them. It’s also difficult to monitor their health, as they likely eat more meals and snacks on-the-go. Here are some tips to keeping them healthy during busy times.

  • Sit down for breakfast together every morning to ensure your teen starts the day with a nutritious meal.
  • Keep healthy grab-and-go snacks at home, like granola bars, apples, bananas, and oranges.
  • Ask your teen to sit down for a family dinner a few days a week if his or her schedule allows.
  • Take evening or weekend walks together to catch up while getting exercise.

Prepare for College
You have been and always will be an advocate for your child’s education. When it comes to preparing for college, ensure your child is taking the right steps and meeting with the right people from freshman year registration day.

  • Meet with the school counselor to determine what classes your child should take each year to qualify for college admission, including courses that count for college credit, like Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
  • Save your child’s best work for a portfolio, should he or she need it for college admission.
  • Encourage your child to get a well-rounded education by participating in extracurricular activities and clubs.
  • Stay on top of college testing deadlines, like the PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT.

You have spent your teenager’s life preparing him or her for adulthood. High school is a critical part of the race, as your child will take what he or she has learned and apply it as he or she moves toward independence. Use these best parent engagement practices to keep your teenager on track.

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Our 14 Best Back to School Tips

August 2, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Our writers and program author have over 150 years of education and parenting experience combined. From all of that expertise, we’ve gathered our best 14 back to school tips and put them in one place—right here!—so you don’t need to look any further. From starting a new school to saving money on school supplies to sending your (no longer a) baby off to college, we have you covered.

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | From starting a new school to saving money on school supplies to sending your (no longer a) baby off to college, we have you covered. | An elementary school student chooses a pack of pencils for her back to school supplies.

Starting a New School

Starting preschool, kindergarten, high school, or a new school system altogether can be stressful for some children. As parents, we must ease that transition so that their first experience in each school setting is one of comfort and excitement instead of fear and anxiety.

Here’s how you can prepare your child, depending on what new school he or she is starting:

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | "Back to School" is written on an illustrated chalkboard with paint, rulers, and assorted school supplies in the image.

Back to School Tips

For kids returning to the same school, there are a few basic things you must do before they can start, including:

Once you have checked those activities off the list, relieve some of the anticipation and pressure of the first day of school.

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | Going Away to College | A father watches his son grab his dorm supplies from the car.

Going Away to College

For teenagers heading off to college, it’s an exciting time. But for many parents and the siblings still at home, the first time a child goes off to college can be challenging. Learn how to prepare your family with these articles.

Whatever your child’s age, when you prepare him or her for school physically, emotionally, and socially, he or she will settle more easily into a successful academic routine. Use these activities to bond as a family before the transition and you’ll create happy memories before the school year begins. 

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