Monthly Archives: October 2014

Asking more (good) questions

Last week we blogged about how to talk about school/classes with your student.  This week, we offer some hints about how questions that will help you figure out how well your student is adjusting to college, including residential life and connectedness.

To bridge the questioning between academics and social aspects of college, you might begin by asking your student if s/he has found a good study spot.  It is important that your student find a space that is conducive to studying, free of distractions but not isolated.  Remember to encourage your student to reward her/himself for reaching particular study goals.

We also suggest making inquiries into how connected your student is becoming to college life and to campus life/community.  Some questions include:

  • Who is the most interesting person on your resident hall floor you have met so far?
  • Have you gotten involved in any organizations?
  • Do you feel connected to anyone in particular?  Professors/instructors?  Counselors?

College success and retention research shows clearly that students who are connected to their colleges and universities are more likely to stay in school and ultimately graduate.  Friendships and relationships built on campus and through campus organizations keep students interested in being on campus and engaging in activities that typically acknowledge and encourage good study habits.

Listen carefully to what your student tells you; remind her/him that college isn’t forever but also help your student to keep her/his eye on the larger prize:  graduating.  Campus involvement and activities help pass the time and create relationships that will benefit a student over a lifetime.




Asking the right question(s)

Parents of college students, this one is for you!  It is currently midterm season on college campus.  Students are staying up later than usual studying for exams; many students will have multiple exams on the same day (back-to-back) combined with major essays due.  It is tough.  Very tough.  It is also the time of the semester/term when students will suddenly be required to assess if the studying they have been doing is working.

What is your role?  We encourage you to be supportive regardless of the grades your student earns.  We also encourage you to ask questions of your student so that you know what is going on sooner rather than later.  However, as we note in our book (the Parents side of it), there are questions regarding school that will lead to blank stares or silence and then there are questions that might actually allow you some insight.

Questions that will be met with a blank stare or silence or a shrug:

  • “How are your classes?”
  • “How was your midterm?”
  • “What grade did you get?”

Questions that are supportive and lead to further discussion with your student:

  • “What types of course materials are required?”
  • “How are you keeping track of your readings and assignments?”
  • “What was the lecture/discussion about today in your ________ class?”

Each semester, your student will have new professors, take classes in different buildings, and meet new people.  Each semester is a new opportunity!  Instead of asking your student general questions, we recommend you consider the questions above (more are in the book) which can lead to more insightful and engaging conversations.

Next time, we will think about asking questions related to the social experiences of your student.  Stay tuned!

More College Rankings

The professional, social media network, LinkedIn, recently got on the college ranking band wagon. LinkedIn states the following on their education specific website (

Which schools are best at launching graduates into desirable jobs? We analyzed millions of alumni profiles to find out how schools around the world stack up across a variety of careers.

The website then goes on to share their three step process of how they identified the colleges within their eight career categories. The career categories are: Accounting, Design, Finance, Investment Banking, Marketing, Media, Software Developers and Software Developers at Startups. Even if those categories aren’t interesting to you, the information is unique and worth a look.

In addition to rankings, you can utilize the ‘University Finder’ feature to locate colleges that match these three things:
* What do you want to study? (select major)
* Where do you want to work? (select a company/corporation)
* Where do you want to live? (select a city/state)

Additionally, you can also view profiles of alumni of the ranked institutions.

Full access to all the information and the site tools requires a LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one, I recommend taking these suggestions from TheSavvyIntern’s article titled: Your LinkedIn Profile Sucks… Here’s How to Fix That.

Have fun!




Application Party

Parents of high school seniors… how are you doing as the college application deadline is drawing near? Do you find yourself doing application tasks on behalf of your student? If so, you’re not alone, but please – stop! Your child does want to go to college, so eventually, s/he will (before November 1), rise to the occasion and take action!

Since most deadlines are looming, as an alternate to nagging, ask your student if s/he would like to host a college app. party. The social could include/be:

  • The friends reading each other’s essays and offering feedback and edits. (If the friends have been close the past few years, they know each other very well, and can remind each other of the positive things they have done, which will help each student highlight accomplishments and achievements.)
  • The students sharing application insights from the things they learned during campus visits, tours, and meetings with admissions representatives.
  • Conversations about the price of tuition, fees, living expenses, the FAFSA, financial aid, and loans.
  • The positive momentum needed for each student to complete the application process.

In the end, you’ll be the hero parent (family) for bringing it all together and assisting in getting it all done!

Application Deadline

Attention! Attention! High school Seniors! You may not need this reminder, or more likely, you don’t like being reminded that the November 1, deadline to submit college applications is fewer than 25 days away! We know you’re diligently working on your application essays (you’re probably on your 3rd or 4th drafts at this point – keep up the good work!), and you’ve been committed to your SAT/ACT preparation schedule, so you’re ready to give your best on test day, but how much research on college majors have you put in?

Are you selecting the same major on each college application? How much research have you done on the majors that are offered at the institutions to which you’re applying? Do you know if the major you select will influence whether or not you get accepted into the institution? Last Fall, one of our readers applied to five institutions, and he selected a different major at each. This was a good strategy, as some of the institutions to which he applied, accept students based on their requested major (along with all their other admission criteria). By selecting lesser known majors, and unique fields of study, he made himself a desirable admit. He was accepted into each program/institution! This accomplishment made deciding where to attend much more exciting.

Stay focused and  keep motivated, the application stress is nearing and end!



Taking notes . . .

Do you take notes in class?  Are the margins filled with doodles, manga sketchings, and bubble letters?  Or, are the margins filled with various symbols of connection?

Remember  the previous blog that gave some suggestions about how to read a textbook (or any class reading material)?  Class lecture notes are the place to make connections with the reading material.

First, when taking notes in class, come up with a symbol system for coding the information:

Choose one color for terms and definitions; another color for open-ended ideas that aren’t neatly packaged with a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer.  ALL CAPS for those concepts the instructor has talked about so many times you know it will show up on an exam or be important for a future essay.  You can use highlighters or underlining techniques – anything that will cue your eyes later that this ‘thing’ (term/concept/idea) is important.  But, it isn’t enough to just mark something as important; you have to give yourself a clue as to the reason behind the importance.

This is what margins are for.

Your note margins are the space where you make a different set of notes (often including arrows and pointers):  in the margins, connect the lecture notes to your textbook notes.  Put pointers and arrows to concepts in class — on the line that points to margin, write in the textbook information (just the amount you need to remember to connect those two ideas).  Later on, when you go back to review your notes (which should be at least 3 times a week unless there are exams), you will have made a map of the important pieces to study and where to give attention.

Thinking back to last weeks’ posts, this study habit is built gradually.  Not overnight.  Try these various study habits for at least one month; tweak as needed but don’t give up.  Good study habits, once habituated, are for life!

Study (reading) a textbook

Have you ever caught yourself turning the page of a book (any book) and then wondering what in the world you have been reading?  Your eyes have been scanning the page but you have been failing to even acknowledge the information your eyes are “reading.”

This is not effective study or reading.  It will not help you be successful in your classes or in college.  Stating that the book is “boring” isn’t helpful because that doesn’t mean it will be exempt from the exam.  SO . . . here are ways to go about reading:

  1. Read through the table of contents and any prefaces provided;
  2. For each assigned reading, do a “global read” of the pertinent pages noting subdivisions within chapters, bolded headings/titles, and other markers of categorization.
  3. Read through the introduction of each chapter AND the conclusion to each chapter BEFORE reading the entire chapter.
  4. Figure out the main arguments (there may be more than one, or there may be one central argument with nested arguments);
  5. Figure out the main strands of evidence used to support the argument;
  6. Figure out the significance of the argument
  7. Read through the entire chapter.
  8. Take notes for both “big picture” arguments but be sure you can also provide examples of the evidence used to support the arguments and how those links are made.

Get out your highlighters or pencils; use sticky notes to make tabs to relevant passages and pages.  Good luck!