Siblings and Separation

The time has come to get this blog moving again. It has been since May that I have written anything. A busy summer and fall lead me off my creative path, but I am back. In the middle of an Eagles win, I was inspired by a conversation with a friend and neighbor to write again.  However, before I get started, let me just take a moment to say, “What a game!!” I’m not even the truest of football fans, but if ever I wanted a team to win it was those birds.  Congratulations, Eagles.

As I mentioned, while sharing some Super Bowl snacks my neighbor and I got to talking about her eldest son. He is the oldest of four and soon to embark on his college career this August.  I have been watching from the sidelines as M, and his parents have gone on a whirlwind tour of colleges, excitedly posting his acceptances to just about each school he has applied.  He is still waiting on two, but it is without a doubt that this college thing is going to happen.  Even as I type, M and his mom are re-visiting St. Joseph’s University to help with the decision making process.  Of course, his parents are thinking about the bottom line and post-college debt. M is looking more at college life and what feels “right” for him.  It’s an exciting and sometimes even anxiety-ridden time for both student and parents.  Colleges and universities recognize it can be overwhelming and do a lot to help with transitioning students to college and have also done much to help parents with this transition too.  However, what about the siblings?

In our discussion, my neighbor mentioned her younger children would miss M when he leaves. The oldest two spend a lot of time together at home and in school activities. And the youngest has already gotten a little emotional thinking of his big brother leaving home. Younger siblings go through a transition too. They have never known life without their “big” in the house.  And for some with only one sibling, the house may feel dramatically quieter. Here are a few ways to be sensitive to younger siblings in the process:

  1. Get them involved from the start. If you go on a college tour, consider bringing the siblings along. I understand this might not always be feasible, but if possible do it! Make it a family road-trip.  Universities will welcome siblings. They see this as an opportunity to sell their school to not one student in your family, but two or maybe even more. Another neighbor of mine sent her oldest off to the University of Alabama, and when they did her college tour, the younger siblings (twins) went along. I remember the mother commenting she wasn’t going to make the trip twice. In her case, she was going to kill three birds with one stone. Smart Momma. Not only did she work smarter not harder for her own benefit, but she also incorporated the younger children in the process from the beginning, unknowingly preparing for their big sister’s move-in day.
  2. Discuss college options openly. Ultimately the decision will come down to the applicant and parents. College conversations held in the open will ease the shock and surprise come August. Additionally, if younger children are planning on college, the open dialogue will help them prepare for their process.
  3. College signing day. Do you have an athlete in the house? If so, get the whole family involved. This is a big deal. Usually, the first Wednesday in February high school seniors can begin to sign a letter of intent to play a sport for a particular team. Why not involve the entire family. Colleges usually do it up, and younger brothers and sister would enjoy the celebration.  If you don’t have an athlete, of course, you could make your signing day celebration at home just as special.
  4. College apparel. When your child makes a decision, why not visit the bookstore or place an order for a t-shirt or hoodie for your younger children? College students might like to have a shirt from their new school, but just think how proud a younger sibling will feel to show off of their older siblings colors. It’s also fun to wear another university shirt at your college. In this case, the youngest will already have something different to wear if they go to another school.
  5. Hand something down for keepsake or care. When an older sibling leaves for school often the younger child feels a loss. A nice gesture from the college student is to ask the younger sibling to look after something while they’re gone or give a little gift to say you will always be on my mind.
  6. Move-In Day. Bring the kids to help out. Mom’s you can make the bed, but get the younger ones busy with other tasks. They can help unload, carry, and unpack. Helping out and participating in move-in day provides an image of where their sibling will be living over the next few months.
  7. Technology.   Let’s face it, with technology and social media, no one is really that far away. Encourage siblings to connect on social media or through technology as often as they want. As a parent don’t get involved with parameters, let your children figure this out on their own. It should not be a chore. Instead of setting minimum contact requirements, just encourage family members to connect as often as they would like.

Have you done anything that has worked for your family to make sibling separation easier? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Last weekend I had the opportunity to witness something wonderful.  Have you ever been asked to do something, but you’ve doubted yourself, so you passed down an opportunity?  I think we all have at one time or another.  I know I have.  Have you ever decided to set a goal that may seem unobtainable, so you quit? Again, I know I have. However, on the flip side, have you ever reached that goal or agreed to do something that you dreaded and feared, and in the end, you did it? Fortunately and recently, I have.  Sometimes that process isn’t easy, but the reward at the end is such a great feeling.

There are several sayings and quotes about personal growth and the struggle to get there.  Bryant McGill’s quote is a prime example, “Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth.”

As a kid, I was never a fast runner. In fact, more times than not, I was one of the last three girls to finish any race or run. I was always one of the last kids to get picked for a team. My first gym teacher would tease and mock me when I attempted to run or do something athletic.  His voice would eventually become my internal voice.  Then one day, not too long ago, I decided I was going to run a 10-mile race.  I had been watching a neighbor practice for the same race the year before.  Although I knew she was a stronger and faster runner than me, something inside me changed as I stood in my living room watching her achieve this impressive goal.  Crazy and doubtful, I signed up for that race to run the next spring. I began to train. In May of 2015, I ran 10 miles in that race with 40,000 other runners. Not one of them looked at me funny, teased me, or doubted me. In fact, I distinctly remember during the painful ninth mile an elite runner, with his medal, look at me and yell out, “You can do it!”  Wow! Someone that good, believing in a “back of the packer.”  Me, a lifetime, card carrying member of the back of the pack!  Diana, my neighbor, even decided to run again as my partner. She knew I could do it too. That race was emotional for many reasons, but for me, I was doing something I never thought I could do. Diana and I crossed that finish line holding hands. The experience was one I will never forget.  (I ran the race again in May 2016.)

However, this blog isn’t about me. This post is about setting a goal that takes you out of your comfort zone. It’s about inspiring you to reconsider your self-doubt. It’s a post about never telling yourself you can’t because you are too old or too whatever to do anything.  Let me share with you another story. A story about an 83-year old that conquered a fear. That 83-year old happens to be my mom.  (Sorry, Mom, for sharing your age.)

You see, my mother has sung in our church choir for approximately 25 years. She has a beautiful voice. The choir is full of strong singers, one after another. At times the choir can be nearly 100 voices strong. The music they produce is powerful. Several weeks ago my mother was asked to sing a part in song with two other women for the 125-year anniversary celebration our church.  The house would be full.  Each woman would sing a section in the song representing a particular point in a life span; someone just starting out, someone in their mid-life, and someone in their golden years.  My mother accepted the invitation but was very doubtful.  She knows she can sing, but has never thought of herself as a soloist. She practiced on her own, listened to a cd, sang her part over and over again. She still doubted her ability to sing in front of a large crowd. She even got a cold and had to reschedule practice with the director. (I think we can agree that the cold may have been stress induced.) During one of the rehearsal practices with the choir, she forgot her words.  Words she knew and had rehearsed. The concert was Sunday. She didn’t sleep much the night before. My dad and other choir members knew she was extremely nervous.  The director and pianist knew she doubted herself too. The song, “Fill the World with Love” was the last performance on the concert.  She would have to sit through all the other performances before she would be up.  When the song began, the two woman sang their parts, then my mother.  I think those of us who knew the nervousness she was experiencing held our breaths for her. A little shaky at first, she settled in and did beautifully.  She got all the words and hit the high notes. I was an emotional wreck watching and listening to her sing. I was also so proud of her. Her cheering section, coincidentally seated right behind me, stood at the end.  One rowdy girlfriend of hers even yelled through the sanctuary, “You go girl!” upon her last note which prompted a standing ovation.  At that point, I think the whole crowd knew what she did was a moment of personal achievement.

Now I want you to see the lyrics of the song she sang:

Leslie Bricusse
In the morning of my life, I shall look to the sunrise
At the moment of my life when the world is new
And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me:
To be brave and strong and true
And to fill the world with love my whole life through.
Refrain 1:
And to fill the world with love
And to fill the world with love
And to full the world with love
My whole life through.
In the noontime of my life, I shall look to the sunshine
At a moment of my life when the sky is blue
And the blessing I shall ask will remain unchanging:
To be brave and strong and true
And to fill the world with love my whole life through.
(Repeat Refrain 1)
In the evening of my life, I shall look to the sunset
At the moment of my life when the night is due.
And the question I shall ask only God can answer:
Was I brave and strong and true?
Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?
Refrain 2:
Did I fill the world with love?
Did I fill the world with love?
Did I fill the world with love?
My whole life through.

At 83 she accepted an invitation to do something that would take her out of her comfort zone. The answer to the lyrics above is YES!  Will you be able to say the same at 83?

I will challenge all of you to step out of your comfort zone or set a goal that makes you stretch a little over the next few months.  Summer is a great time for a college student to try something new and change up the routine.  Without classes, you can focus on something entirely different. I would love to hear what you’ve doubted doing before.

Digital Dependency

It’s been a while since I have written an article for my blog.  I’ve been telling myself to write something since March! Talk about procrastination!  Here it is May, and I am finally getting my act together.  Typically, I like to have something inspirational to get me going on a topic.  Every time I think I have an idea, I talk myself out of it. Instead, I keep coming back to the concept of digital dependency. I believe the universe presents us with opportunities or speaks to us in various ways. Often we chose to ignore our inner voice. I have decided perhaps to get over this little writing block; I need to address the topic I keep stifling, digital dependency.

A few weeks ago our counseling center co-sponsored an event on campus called, Digital Detox Day. It was an opportunity for students to recognize the signs of a digital addiction and take some time to detox.  I did not participate in the event or even stop by, but the program advertisement made me think about my relationship to the digital world.

For several years, I have owned a smartphone and an iPad simultaneously.  I still seemed to read at a regular rate of multiple books a year.  In the last two years, it has been hard for me to even get through three books in a year. “All the Light We Cannot See” has been sitting in my office to read during lunch for the entire academic year.  I am still only partially through it.  Previously, I would have a book by my bed at night, and I would read a little before falling asleep. Sometimes I would get so involved, read more than I should, and pay for it the next day.  I haven’t been doing that either.   So what changed in the last two or three years? Digital dependency is the answer. For me, this ranges from checking social media with my readily available iPad or iPhone, aimlessly surfing the web or YouTube, to binge watching shows with my husband in the evening.  Before I used to be able to discuss books and offer suggestions for a good summer read, now I can only offer Premium Channel, Netflix, and Amazon suggestions. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but I miss my books.

Digital dependency, is it a thing? About five years ago, a visibly fidgety student was in my office. When I asked him if everything was okay, he responded that he had cut himself off from his cell phone for a while, and was only on day two. He told me that although his phone was in a drawer in his room, he had the sensation of his cell phone vibrating in his pocket.  He was experiencing a “phantom limb” phenomenon similar to amputation patients. I will admit, at the time, I thought he was overly dramatic.  I couldn’t imagine how someone could become so connected to an inanimate object that they would feel that type of sensation, anxiety, or loss. Today, I would not be so quick to judge.  I have learned and have seen firsthand, that digital dependency is alive and well.

Even this week I read an interesting article regarding digital addiction in younger kids, “Its ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies.” So, with all these things going through my mind, I created an unscientific list of warning signs for digital dependency:Digital Dependency

  1. Feeling or fear of missing out. Are you restless if you leave your phone at home or the battery has run out?
  2. Concealing your cell phone usage. Do you sneak off to get a look at what’s happening on social media?
  3. Eye, neck, and shoulder pain from straining to look at a screen while always looking down.
  4. Do you have trouble completing tasks at home or work due to more time spent on your phone?
  5. Isolation and loneliness. Do you spend less time with family and friends or find yourself distracted in conversations because you are checking your phone at the same time.

As I look at my list, I do recognize a few warning signs for myself.  Occasionally, I do feel stiffness or tired after prolonged periods of looking at my phone. Obviously, number four hits home as I have missed out on something I enjoy – reading. And, I have to admit shamefully, that I am guilty of number five too.  It reminds me of a night when I took my daughter to a Taylor Swift concert.  I hadn’t been to a concert in ages, and this was her first.  Consumed with the idea of posting it all on social media and taking pictures, I justified these actions by telling myself I was “preserving the memory.”  In the end, the photos and videos were crap. I deleted most of them. Instead, I should have just “been in the moment.”

Enough is enough.  Who wants to experience a “phantom limb” sensation over a silly phone?  Life is right in front of us. I have two wonderful summer vacations planned. I want to preserve these trips in photos and at the same time, remember the moments.  During our trips, I don’t want to be caught up in what I could be missing at home nor do I need to post everything we are doing.  It can wait. If I must post our vacations, which I will want to do too, I can set real-time posting limitations and commit to post-vacation postings.  Additionally, I am challenging myself to finish that book in my office along with one possible two others before summer is over. I am going to put down the phone, stop the binge watching long enough to enjoy a past-time I used to love.  What can you do to detox digitally? I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and challenges. Oh, and I could use some summer reading suggestions.


Know Your Numbers

Have you ever watched Shark Tank? Honestly, it’s not a show I watch, but I’ve seen it enough to know that the Sharks are always asking about numbers.  You may even hear one say in reprimand, “You must know your numbers.” Countless pitches fall apart because contestants don’t know about revenues, expenses, profits, manufacturing costs, and projections. Mostly, they need to know the budget.

The concept of budgeting has been floating around in my head for a couple of weeks. I started to realize that a lot of success hinges on the idea of a real sound budget. Obviously, the first example could be a failed business. On a smaller scale maybe you plan on buying the next iPhone, but if you don’t know the numbers in your bank account. You don’t know the cost of the phone or other factors involved with your current contract agreement.  If this were the case, it’s possible you may get in over your head.

Another budgeting example that I am all too familiar with is budgeting food for weight loss. The concept is based on a budget whether it’s points or calories; either you have 24 points to eat in a day or a 1500 calorie allotment for the day.  You could also plan to eat a certain amount of grams of protein, fruits/vegetables, and fats in a day.  Any way you look at it, it’s a budget.

Now, let me give you one more example that might help you in school. Budgeting your time, commonly referred to as time management.  Each semester some students don’t do as well as they could simply because they have poor time management skills.  They fail to budget their time wisely.

It’s still early enough in the semester to take a good look at your plan for managing time this spring. I’m going to help you take a closer look at how you spend your day.

If I asked you, “What is the importance of the number 168?” What would your answer be? (In a classroom, I would count to ten – in my head – before I called on someone.)  Ok, so do you know the answer?  Well, 168 is the number of hours in a week.  Did you get it right?  It’s ok if you didn’t.  That’s what I’m here to talk to you about.

Let’s for a minute think about all the possible things you do in the course of a week. You eat, sleep, work, study, go to class, exercise and hang out with friends.  If you commute to school or work, you can factor time in the car too.  Your calendar is full.

I used to teach a workshop to probationary college students. Students who had one semester to pull up their grades to a particular point or be dismissed from school.  I often found their reason for failure was not ineptitude, but a lack of planning.   I would tell them the recommendation for college students is 2-3 hours of study for every 1 hour in class.  To put this in relative terms if you have three credits (hours) for a class, you should study 6-9 hours.  If you have 15 credits, then you should be studying 30-45 hours a week. At that, their eyes would pop out of their head. Some would even laugh at me. I think I can even see your eyes bulging too.  Full-time college enrollment is like having a full-time job.  As a matter of fact, you should take it as seriously as you would a full-time job.

Now that we have that disparaging fact out of the way let’s look at the possibilities for you. I’m going to ask you to think about your calendar, the hours in a day/week, and give you a tool to budget your time.  The link below is a tool from Ohio University that I found to be the best online worksheet to examine “unaccounted for” hours in your week.  These are hours that could be re-assigned to studying.  I think you may be surprised at how much time you have!

Before you begin, here are some instructions:

In the first section on Academics – be honest about the amount of time you intend on studying – per week – for each class. I’m not looking over your shoulder. You don’t need to falsify your answers.  If you will only study 1 hour for a class, write that down. Be honest.

In the second section, on Fixed Activities – remember these are hours per week. You will need to multiply by 7 in most cases.  An example of the “other” category could be exercise or working out.

I would love to hear how much flexible time you have left. Generally, I hear 20-40 hours.  Surprising, right?  And this activity factors in sleep!  Think about how you are spending that extra time.  The answer to that is often hanging with friends, games, social media, etc. These are all areas that you can commit to re-budget toward your academics.

Now you know your numbers. You have the necessary tool for successful time management.  If you would like more tips on budgeting time for a successful semester or have some tools of your own, I’d love to hear from you.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Ben Franklin


Why Consider Substitute Teaching? (I’m Talking to You, December Grads!)


A colleague of mine, Amanda Machonis, was a featured contributor in Education’s Week blog, Career Corner.  I think her ideas for newly graduated teachers is a good one.  -Diane

Subbing is be a bridge to full-time employment for many educators. All of us who have ever filled out a standard application with a question about whether or not we’d be willing to substitute have paused to consider the option carefully.

Source: Why Consider Substitute Teaching? (I’m Talking to You, December Grads!)

Make the Most of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and most students are clearing out for a well-needed break.  I always think of Thanksgiving as the final rest before the big finale or the quiet before the storm.  When you return from Thanksgiving break, the crunch is on, and there are only a few more weeks left in the fall semester. Most of this time is spent preparing for finals. Professors are trying to fit in the last of what they can before the semester ends, and papers and projects are officially due.

There is not much you can do to change the fact that everything is coming to a close, and you will be required to put in a lot of work before now and then.  However, there are a few things that can help you prepare while you are home for Thanksgiving.

Hopefully, before you left, you handed in all the assignments that were due.  Did you look at the syllabus for each class?  If not, get online, and look ahead.  Knowing the dates for finals, papers, and projects will help you prioritize and organize yourself when you are back on campus.

Try to enjoy the rest.  Focus on the present.  Although, I am suggesting that you look ahead and prepare for the final days, I also believe it is important to use this time to re-energize.  Don’t spend the entire break out late.  Use this time to get into a good sleep pattern, and try to maintain that through finals week.  A well-rested mind is one of the best ways to combat stress, and think well during exams.

I’m also going to make a couple other suggestions unrelated to academic preparation. While you are home, think ahead to winter break.

Get a jump on making some extra cash.  Use the time now to look for seasonal work opportunities for winter break. If you would like to earn some money over your semester break,  secure that position is over Thanksgiving break!  Many companies need the extra help during the holiday season and are happy to hire college students.  Let potential employers know when you will be available to start.  If you wait until after finals week to look for seasonal work, you may be behind the eight ball.

Winter break can also be a good time to explore careers.  Talk to your relatives and friends over Thanksgiving.  Utilize your network to strike up the conversation about job shadowing opportunities and even internships.  You may be one of the many college students who have a month off between semesters.  If you are not working, you could take advantage of the down time to shadow someone in an industry of your interest.  Some companies will even offer short internships during the break. Explore these possibilities. If nothing else, you may learn of summer internship opportunities during your conversation.

Lastly, and on a lighter note, think about swapping out your seasonal clothing.  Did you bring home your summer items?  If not, think about asking mom and dad to stay a few minutes longer at drop-off so you can throw some summer clothes in a bag for them to take home for you.  Return to school at the end of this break with warmer clothing and suitcase. You may need to take more home for winter break. Store the bag under your bed, and fill with clothes in preparation for the longer stay.

Take the time to thank your parents and family.  Did you know that a hug has healing properties? (Maybe I will talk about that in another post.)  So, give your family a hug while you are home, and enjoy your time together. Trust me; it will make you feel better.

Happy Thanksgiving.

College Scholarship Pointers

Ok, so you might be applying for colleges, you may have made a decision, or you may even have already started school.  It’s never too late to start thinking about scholarships to help defray some of the costs associated with college tuition.

First, let me give you a brief definition of the types of scholarships available:

Career:  Scholarships that are specifically for students that would like to take a particular career path.

College:  Individual colleges will often have their own scholarship programs. Selection is often based on academic merit and financial need.

Merit: These scholarships are based on your academic, athletic, artistic/performance, or involvement in community service.

Need: These scholarships are granted based on you or your family’s financial situation.

Student: This category will award scholarships based on factors such as race, ethnicity, medical history, gender, and other criteria.    scholarship-pointers

Applying and receiving a scholarship can help bridge the gap between the cost of tuition, financial aid packages (if applicable), and what you will have to pay out of pocket.  Never assume that you have missed the deadline to apply for a scholarship.  The majority of deadlines occur in the first quarter of the year, but many programs have varying time frames.  Also, some school or career scholarships might be available only to students after completing a few semesters of college-level work.

Apply for as many scholarships as you think you may qualify.  The process can be time-consuming and require individual essays, but in some cases, the work can pay off.  Don’t assume that you must be a straight A student or a minority to be eligible. This is not the case.  Many scholarships are available to a student with a special talent or unique interest.  Here is a list of 100+ Scholarships for you to explore.  Watch the deadlines, and read all the details for eligibility.

Here is another tip or warning:  If the scholarship asks for an application fee or resource requires payment to look for scholarships, it is likely a scam.

If you are interested in free reputable sites to begin your scholarship search, try:,,,,,

Finally, I will suggest you look at your parent’s employer.  Beyond scholarships, there might be workplace benefits that can lower the cost of computers, insurance, and travel.  All these little things add up to the overall cost of an education.  If you can get reduced insurance rates for good grades or get a discount on computers, why not take advantage of it.  Every little bit helps in the end.  Good luck.


October, a Risky Time for College Students

octoberTo me when I think of a college campus, I often connect it with the fall. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it’s the nostalgia related to my college memories: football games, homecoming, and Halloween weekend. Without a doubt, this is a fun time of year to be a college student.  There are things to do and experiences around every corner.  October rolls in with its cooler weather and busy weekends all before the crunch time of academic realities. Unfortunately, this combination can lead to risky behavior related to alcohol.

I have heard my colleagues comment that Homecoming and Halloween weekends are prime time for excessive drinking behavior.  Although I don’t know if we have conducted a campus study, you only have to look in the trash cans on Sunday to see the proof.  I am not singling my campus out, this is common across the country, even more so where Greek Life and Football teams dominate the social structure.

Binge drinking around campus is a problem.  Do you know what binge drinking is?  Binge drinking is described as consuming five drinks for a man or four drinks for a woman within two hours.  You may think that your drinking behavior is not a problem because it’s what everyone does.  Maybe you haven’t even noticed that you are consuming that much alcohol within 2 hours. When mixing it up with your friends, laughing, dancing, playing pong – who’s counting?  Well, let me tell you, your mind and body is counting!

If you are a parent reading my post, maybe you think your child doesn’t drink. I am here to burst your bubble – they have, they do, and they will!  According to research summarized in a College Task Force report to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the consequences of excessive drinking by college students are more significant, more destructive, and more costly than many parents realize. And these consequences affect students whether or not they drink.

Statistics from this report indicate that drinking by college students aged 18 to 24 contributes to an estimated 1,825 student deaths, 599,000 injuries, 696,000 assaults by another student who has been drinking, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.

You can still go out and have a good time, enjoying all that your school has to offer this month. I’m just sending out a caution. Like I said, I have great memories of this time of year from my college days.  Yet, I will be honest, I did participate in some risky behavior related to alcohol, and I am grateful that nothing serious happened to me. However, in my years of work in higher education, I have seen a lot and come to the realization that I was pretty lucky.  I have seen enough students vomit their brains out. (By the way, this is your body’s way of saying, “Enough! You may have lost count, but I haven’t – see!”) I have sent students to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. I have seen students get their stomachs pumped.  I have seen students pee and poop themselves because they lost count! I have seen campus vandalism caused from drunken behavior. I have sat on far too many judicial hearings where students were caught drinking and creating some problem.  And, yes, I have known girls who have been sexually assaulted while both parties were drinking too much. One night of poor decision making can haunt you for a long, long time.

If you are already concerned about your health or someone else’s, reach out to your campus health center or counseling center.  If you are a student who would like to address the drinking culture of your school, talk to student activities, the health center, or even the dean of student’s office.  If you are a parent, be real with your students, and at the same time give them a reminder to make healthy choices.  Yes, they will roll their eyes, but who cares! Ignoring the reality of college drinking could be a big mistake.

My final piece of advice to students: When you’re thinking about just one more drink, ask yourself is it necessary. That extra glass could make a big difference in the result of the evening. Please, don’t discount your option to limit or pace yourself.  This is a viable and smart alternative to what could be some dangerous (not to mention career – or life – wrecking) consequences.




“Fall Semester–A Time for Parents to Discuss the Risks of College Drinking” Retrieved from–a-time-for-parents-to-discuss-the-risks-of-college-drinking-300322964.html

Move-In Day

It’s Freshmen Move-In Day on my campus. It’s probably move-in day on many campuses today or at least it’s the season for it.   Dropping your freshmen off at college for the first time can be full of emotions.  Both parents and students can be feeling anxiety, uncertainty, and excitement.  These feelings are not uncommon.

Recently, on Facebook, I have seen posts from parents who are letting their children go.  This is a big step for everyone.  However, I hope it will not be a grief stricken process for parents.  I have seen a couple of posts that parents (more so moms) have admitted to a sense of pain in this process.  It’s ok to acknowledge that you will miss your wonderfully beautiful child. However, this should be a time for joy and celebration.  Joy, happiness, and pride should outweigh grief.  Think of all the hard work you have put into this moment.  Think of the fact that you are having this moment (not everyone gets to have it).  You are blessed!  Your children are succeeding.  Take a moment to focus on that.

I try to remind parents that they put their kids on the bus for kindergarten, and everyone survived.  There may have been anxiety, uncertainty, and excitement then too, but you all did okay.  Your children were prepared and ready to go because of the good work you had done in the first four years of their life. Perhaps some of these same children participated in sleep-away camp.  You dropped them off and came back a week later.  They were fine.  Maybe stinky and dirty, but fine. Do you remember the excitement in their voice as they told you of their experience? Now, I know your 18-year-old will not return at lunch time or even around 3 pm.  Most will not come home after the first week.  Many of you may say to me, “Yes, but that was only for a morning or that was just for one week.”  At the time, it seemed bigger then.  In addition, you would never drop a five-year-old off for college.  Why?  Because they are not developmentally ready.  However, most 18-year-olds are developmentally ready for university life.  Your child is probably one of them. Most of them will soon be telling you, with excitement, all of the new people and things they are meeting and doing.  And, I am confident that you have given them all the tools they need to do their best.

Orientation teams across the US work hard to keep kids busy those first few days for a smooth transition. Higher Education professionals do their best to help students make the transition from high school to college.  It is a big step, but we’ve got it!  In fact, many schools have programs specifically for freshmen during their first semester or the entire year, to encourage college success. If you think your student isn’t thriving after the first month or so, talk to them.  Campuses are full of resources.  Point out opportunities for them to get involved or where they can go for help.

Parents, being dropped off at college is not the same as when you were 18. Students are much more connected with their parents than they were 30 years ago.  Make a plan to touch base regularly.  Allow your child to decide the frequency and make the initial contact.  Technology has made regular communication easier.  Text messages, free phone calls, Skype, Face Time, Snap Chat, Instagram, and Facebook all make this more possible.  Take advantage of them. This will help you adjust too.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how often you talk or hear from your child.

So, when you give your child the nudge to fly, don’t do so with tears of sadness, but tears of joy. Be confident in the person you have created.  Make your good-bye light and quick.  Help them unpack, make their bed (Mom, that’s for you), give them a big hug filled with pride and love, take a deep breath, and say, “Talk to you soon.”  Then leave; don’t linger.  I promise you it’s easier on both of you this way.

Good luck and congratulations. Your child is in a good place.  Both of you are blessed.Missing Someone

You Don’t Need to Pack Everything

Some of you may know that I have a relatively healthy and active Pinterest page.  I pin a few things every day.  In the last few days, I have noticed others pinning lists of what to bring to college.  Well, I’m going to take this in the opposite direction and give you a few suggestions of what to leave at home.


  1. Talk to your roommate. Ok, so that’s not an item you will leave at home, but it will help.  Communication with your roommate early on helps avoid duplication in large items.  Even if you haven’t met before, you should talk about what each of you is planning to bring.  Is one of you bringing a TV?  Is someone bringing or renting the mini-fridge?  What about an iron?


  1. An ironing board. An ironing board is a large and bulky item.  You don’t need it.  Some residence halls have a common board and iron on each floor.  If you feel you must, my suggestion is to get a mini board.  You can purchase one at Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  If you get one of these, unscrew the little legs (or leave it folded).  Now it is not only flat for packing, but you can wedge the board in a half open dresser drawer to bring it to a semi-decent height.  OR you can iron on your bed.  However, let’s face it, even if you have an ironing board, are you going to use it?


  1. Clothes for all seasons. You don’t need to take everything at once.  You will not have room for it in the little closets.  Pack for the current season, with a couple of transitional pieces for layering.  Plan to take home out-of-season clothes during the break and return with in-season items. Rotating clothing makes you think you have an entirely new wardrobe.


  1. Dishes and utensils. Ok, I have found that this suggestion is a matter of preference, but you don’t need an entire eight-piece set.  If you decide to bring dishes, you will only need about two sets with dish washing soap and towels.  If you don’t want to wash dishes in the tiny bathroom sinks, may I recommend paper plates and utensils?  You could share this purchase with your roommate.  The downside to this plan of action is that other members of the floor may decide to “borrow” from you at all times.  AND, it’s not the most environmentally friendly.


  1. Pots and Pans. This one I just don’t get.  What and why are you cooking?  If your hall has a kitchen, they will most likely have pots and pans to borrow.  If you think this is a necessity, look into what your building has first.  Of course, this suggestion and the dishes (above), are more for those living in the residence hall rather than an apartment.


  1. Luggage. Ok, so if you decide to use luggage to pack your clothing, you may want to send it home when your parents leave.  There will be little room to store large suitcases.  If you’re lucky, some residence halls have a storage space for out-of-state students to store luggage, but don’t plan on it.  I recommend duffel bags and soft-sided luggage that can be folded, flattened or rolled for storage.  Large trash bags and your laundry bag work for transportation too.


  1. Sports equipment, for non-athletes. If you played a sport in high school, but will not be playing in college, the likelihood is that you won’t need your equipment.  Leave it at home.  If you join an intramural team, bring it then.


  1. Non-academic books. Some people just love books.  I get it.  However, they are cumbersome and bulky.  If you can’t live without them, just bring your favorite three. Unfortunately, your complete boxed set of Harry Potter should stay home. You will have plenty of books from class, and you really won’t have time to read anything other than textbooks.  Also, don’t order your books too soon.  You may change classes. You can get books within the first week without much trouble, giving you more room in the car.


  1. Shoe organizer/drying rack/bean bag chair or other bulky items. Think about it, where are you putting this stuff?  If it’s an over the door shoe organizer, will your roommate be using it too?  Will the door even shut?  Under the bed is prime storage real estate. Is this the best usage of this space?  And that drying rack!  Although it’s not heavy, when assembled, it will be in everyone’s way.  And if the drying rack is in the way – the comfy bean bag chair will be too.


  1. High school spirit wear. I know, this sounds harsh, but the reality is – you are in college.  You will shortly find out that most students dress in college spirit wear.  Students will even wear college clothing from other schools, but NOT high school stuff.


Your college space is probably going to be smaller than your at-home space mainly because you will be sharing half of it with someone else.  Think carefully.  If you say to yourself, “I may need that.” Chances are, you won’t.

Tell me what you have learned to leave at home.