Dear CSU Parents and Families:
It’s a tradeoff for students: two weeks of hard work for five weeks of freedom over Winter Break. This is a hectic time for students who are scrambling to finish projects, turn in final papers, and prepare for a much needed break, so your care and support is critical! You may find emotions are running high on campus (and at home!). If that is the case, we encourage you to send your student a bit of love in the form of a phone call, letter, email, care package, or even a quick text message. While you can’t study or take a final exam for your student, College Parents of America shares some messages you can send to help your student finish the semester strong:
Belief that he or she can succeed and encouragement to do the best he/she can
Sharing your best study tips: sleeping, eating right, and time management are key to a successful finals week
Helping with travel arrangements, using the university’s final examination schedule
Helping him or her focus on schoolwork by not sharing extraneous things from home
Reminding your student to use campus resources as needed
You love them no matter their end of semester GPA
When it comes time for Winter Break, be prepared for many homecoming scenarios. It can be a wonderful time for family bonding and at the same time, it can be a time of tension and conflict. Your student may have come home over the short Fall Break during Thanksgiving…it is easy to forgive small transgressions or poor behavior when the visit is short. Please note that Colorado State University’s Winter Break is FIVE WEEKS LONG and it is not uncommon for everyone to long for the beginning of the second semester after a few short days/weeks. We encourage families to talk with their students about family obligations, curfew negotiations, involvement expectations, and chores before break begins. If your student is ever bored, here are some productive ideas that will take some time:
First of all, remember that your student does need some down time. After the stress and bustle of the semester, your student may need some time to enjoy the sanctuary of home. Be patient if your student does seem to sleep more and wants time just to do nothing.
Your student may be lucky enough to be able to return to his summer job for a few weeks or find a seasonal job to make some extra money.
Your student might consider a short-term internship or job shadowing in a potential field of interest. Encourage him or her to talk with The Career Center before coming home. (The Career Center also gave a presentation for the November RAMFAM Association meeting that is now archived on the Parent & Family website)
Now is a great time for seniors to put in the work on polishing a resume and cover letter, compiling a list of potential employers, and investigating careers.
Students who have pre-ordered their textbooks for spring can get started on some reading. Why not start the semester ahead of the game?
Your student (and you) might use some of this time to get a head start on financial aid paperwork. Complete the FAFSA, do a search for extra scholarships, gather financial information needed.
If your student is living in the residence halls, please note most halls are closed and locked over Winter Break. Students must remember to take their plane tickets, medicine, ski and snow boarding items, and other important belongings because they will not be allowed back into the room/hall over break. Halls close on Friday, December 14 at 10:00 p.m., but students are expected to leave within 24 hours after their last final. If your student has traveling conflicts, he or she must speak with the Residence Director in his or her hall by December 12 to make arrangements. The residence halls open again on Thursday, January 17 at 8:00 a.m. Students who need to make housing arrangements on-campus over Winter Break should do so through My CSU Housing. Space is very limited & students who need this option will incur additional fees.
For those of you with graduating seniors, congratulations! Ceremonies will be held December 14-15, 2012 and you can find graduation information by college on the CSU Commencement website. Be sure to check out Grad Packs from the Alumni Association as a way to celebrate your student's success.
In this edition of the newsletter, we've focused on finals prep, stress management, discussing final grades and a few key updates we want you to know about on the CSU campus. We close with our deepest appreciation for all you do to support your students and Colorado State University. Happy Holiday Season!
Jody & Kacee
Jody Donovan, Ph.D.
Dean of Students/Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs
Kacee Collard Jarnot, M.S.
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs
Parent and Family Programs
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
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Predictors of Student Success
By Paul Thayer, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Special Advisor to the Provost for Retention
An analysis of all new freshmen who entered the University in fall semesters between 2002 and 2010 has allowed us to identify a number of indictors of student success. One of the most intriguing findings is the strong statistical relationship between completion of intermediate composition (CO 150) within students’ first 30 credits (their first year) and their subsequent academic success and timely persistence to graduation.
Recognizing the significance of this finding, the University has been rapidly expanding the total number of sections of CO 150 in order to have sufficient course capacity to be able to promise entering students that they can complete the course within their first year. While we are not all the way there yet, we have made significant strides this year, with the result that we have far more open seats in CO 150 available for the spring 2013 term than ever before.
We encourage parents and families to work with your student if he or she has not already completed, or scheduled, CO 150 to see if he or she can make room in their spring semester course schedule to register for CO 150.
Critical Note: As important as CO 150 may be, no student should drop a course that their academic advisor has identified as necessary for spring 2013 in order to find room to add CO 150!
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Academic Advising Insights: End of Semester Conversations
By Madlyn D'Andrea, Director of Advising for Undeclared Students, Center for Advising and Student Achievement
The holidays are fast approaching and I know many of you are looking forward to having your student home to spend an extended period of time with you. And, I’m sure many students are looking forward to some home-cooking, their own room and reconnecting with family, friends, and pets! However, most students, especially first year students, will be feeling stress during these last 2 weeks before the holidays. They will be studying for finals, completing projects, fighting off colds, and wondering about their grades. Now is a good time to ship off a care package or offer words of support.
Once your student is home, however, it might be useful to explore two academic issues: how the semester went academically and how they are feeling about their major. If they are undeclared, engage them in conversation about the steps they have taken thus far to explore majors.
Fall semester grades will be posted online on RAMweb December 19. Occasionally it may take additional days to see all grades, but know that students have instant access to this information online. Taking time to process grades is important. Did they receive the grades they thought they would earn? If not, why not? Were their classes easier or harder than they expected? What study skills have they learned and which ones do they need to work on? Did the final exams shock them? How do they feel about the test-taking in college? Have they asked their instructors or academic advisor for assistance?
If they have done well, congratulate them! It isn’t easy to earn those grades. If they haven’t, please encourage them to speak with their advisor as soon as they return for the spring semester. Every student has the intelligence to graduate from CSU, but some students need additional skill development to be successful in this new environment, and advisors can assist with ideas and resources for students to overcome mistakes.
If a student earns below a cumulative 2.0 GPA, they will be placed on academic probation. It is important they understand the implications and know they then have two semesters to raise their GPA above a 2.0 or they will be academically dismissed. Advisors can supply more details about academic probation and programs or resources for success.
Discussing majors can be either positive and/or frustrating if students are not content or sure about their current major or lack of one. Remind them that major exploration takes time and can be an interesting self-discovery process. Colorado State is committed to helping students find the major that fits best, as well as helping students find a career. Challenge your student to check out 2-3 new resources during spring semester, such as their academic advisor, favorite instructor, the Career Center, or some of the many online resources (from the Career Center or the Center for Advising and Student Achievement). These on-campus resources can assist students in finding the best fit for their future.
And, know that, when they take the time and initiative to fully explore, they can and will figure it all out. Happy holidays!
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Assessment Results: Motivating & Encouraging from Afar
By Jody Donovan, Dean of Students & Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs
We all get that hunch, those feelings that things aren’t quite right, we try to read between the lines of what our students are saying (or aren’t saying) and we feel helpless. It was different when our students lived with us and we had numerous opportunities to listen, talk, problem-solve and support them face to face. Now, our students live far away and it is much harder to determine whether our words and support are meaningful or helpful when they are struggling. And really, if we were truthful with ourselves, we yearn for our cape so we can fly in to rescue them from hardship and despair, right?!
Short of pulling out the cape, there are a number of options and resources on the Colorado State University campus and in Fort Collins community to support students. The key is for students to know about and then access these resources. Here are a few tips for listening, supporting, and challenging students from afar:
Begin with an open heart, full of love for your student. This message needs to be heard and felt by your student. Reinforce this message frequently in word and in deed. Students doubt themselves and worry about disappointing you. They need to know you love them.
Listen, listen, listen! You cannot fully understand what is happening for your student if you are doing all of the talking.
Ask clarifying questions, paraphrase, and empathize to gain a full picture of what your student is dealing with as an emerging adult with yet-to-be-fully-developed coping and problem-solving skills.
Ask what your student needs from you. Does he or she need a supportive ear and shoulder? Perhaps a sounding board to brainstorm possible options? A guide to discuss a pro and con list? Or, perhaps a challenger to hold him or her accountable for acting according to personal values or previous decisions? Recognize that it is rarely appropriate for a parent or family member of an emerging adult to make decisions FOR the student and instead, it is better to support the emerging adult to make decisions for him or herself.
After listening to the issues and concerns, develop a list of possibilities and options with your student, then suggest a “time out” or a “breather” to think about next steps. Commit to talking again within a short period of time (an hour, a day, a week) to discuss what your student has decided. During this break, you can research the Colorado State University and Parent & Family Programs websites, reach out to us for suggestions and resources, talk with a friend, family member, or another trusted person to gain ideas, perspective, and support.
Recognize what is your student’s job/responsibility and what is your job/responsibility. While it will be hard to stand by and watch your student struggle with something that is easy for you to “fix,” he or she only learns by doing the hard work to fix it him or herself. Your student’s job is to actively engage in researching options and resources and then taking the steps to engage with those services. Your job is to love your student. If you feel your student is not developmentally ready or is not taking his or her job as a student seriously, you may need to utilize “tough love” and enact consequences for his or her choices.
Finally, trust in your student and yourself. Through my own experience parenting my sophomore son, he hasn’t always made good choices and he’s learned a lot of hard lessons. However, it has also been a remarkable journey to watch him grow up and become an incredible young adult. His mistakes and struggles have been hard to watch, and at times, we had to come down hard with some challenging consequences for his choices. But through it all, he knows his dad and I love him and will stick by him no matter what.
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Reasonable Expectations: End of Semester Grades
By Maria Marinucci, Graduate Assistant for Parent & Family Programs and Retention Initiatives
The end of the semester is just a couple weeks away, and for some, December 14th will be a day of relief, celebration, and excitement. For others, this day could be one of great disappointment. Getting there will likely be challenging for most students, with projects, papers, and exams all relying on a semester’s worth of learning. It is important to support your students and have reasonable expectations about grades.
If your student performed very well academically, be sure to celebrate! Remind your student you know his or her success is likely the result of hard work and navigating the many transitions college brings. Congratulate your student, and perhaps even engage them in conversation about what they learned beyond what they demonstrated on tests and papers. Find a way to recognize these achievements in a way that supports your student without adding too much pressure to be academically perfect.
For students who did not do as well as they expected it can be helpful to remember this is not uncommon and many factors contribute to academic performance. No matter their academic year, students are adjusting to new classroom environments, different expectations, and increased freedoms and decisions about how to structure one’s time. All of this can hinder students’ ability to perform at their highest capacity. Help your student see the big picture—are they doing well in some courses but not in others? Which did they enjoy and learn? What does this tell them about future course selection?
If all of his or her grades were lower than desired, what could be the cause? Perhaps attending study skills workshops, speaking with an advisor, or finding a tutor will help in future semesters. An honest conversation with your student about what happened and the creation of a concrete plan for next semester will help both you and your student see that a change of habits might be the key to success. If your student says, “I’ll do better next semester” without offering an action plan, you may need to discuss their readiness to be successful at the university level. Whatever the case may be, CSU has countless resources and supports for students. Families can always use our website or call our office to help students find helpful resources.
Whatever the case, it is important to have conversations with your student about academic performance in a way that lets them know you support them and encourage them to do their best. Balancing supporting, congratulating, and setting expectations can be challenging, but will help your student know you care and want to help them be academically and personally successful.
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Stress Relief at the Campus Recreation Center
By Jason Foster, Facility Scheduling & Event Management Coordinator, Campus Recreation
Thoughts of celebration and relaxation are strong with winter break right around the corner! Students, however, must first focus on the remainder of the semester and prepare to do their best during finals week. Stress and tension swell among students this time of the year and it becomes even more important to stay physically and mentally fit, and find ways to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Fortunately, Campus Recreation and The Student Recreation Center offer opportunities and the perfect environment to accomplish these important goals!
Students are always welcome to drop by the Recreation Center and use any of our facilities. Swimming in the pool, relaxing in the sauna, climbing the rock wall, working up a sweat on an elliptical, or spending time lifting in the fitness center are all great ways to stay active and relieve stress. Students who are not quite sure where or how to get started can join others for a Group Fitness, Cycling, or Mind/Body class. Zumba, ABSolution, Yoga, Meditation, Indoor Cycling and Pilates are just a few of the offerings, and there are options for all levels of participants from beginners to seasoned veterans.
If students are looking for a little more one-on-one time to discuss a workout regimen and personal goals, and receive the motivation needed for personal achievement, the Campus Recreation Personal Training program may be a perfect fit. Then, when the workout is over and relaxation and recovery is needed, students can take advantage of the wonderful Massage Therapy Program.
Remember parents and family members, it is very important for all of us to support students during this time of the year. You can help by simply encouraging them to come to the Recreation Center where they can take advantage of the facility or participate in any of the Group Fitness classes free of charge. Additionally you can purchase Cycling or Mind/Body passes that they can use at their convenience or purchase and schedule Massages and Personal Training sessions for them! More information is listed below. Have a very happy Winter Break with your student!
For general information on all that Campus Recreation and The Student Recreation Center have to offer check out our website.
From the Campus Recreation homepage, under the “Programs” tab navigate your way to “Fitness Programs” to learn more about all classes and Personal Training sessions
Massages can be paid for and scheduled over the phone! You can choose a 30 minute massage for $27, a 60 minute massage for $45, or a 90 minute massage for $65. Please dial (970) 491-6359 and hit “9” to reach massage scheduling.
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Construction Begins on the LSC Re•vitalization Project
By Colleen Rodriguez, Communications Coordinator, Creative Services
Areas surrounding the Lory Student Center will look slightly different when your student(s) returns to campus after winter break in January as preparations begin for the Lory Student Center’s renovation.
The Project will renovate 160,000 square feet and add an additional 40,000 square feet of new space to the Student Center. There will be an expansion of the ballroom, a redesign of the west main level floor wall to include a view to the west, a redesign of the main and upper levels to improve the overall cosmetic appearance of the building, as well as the potential for redesign of the Ramskeller. 50-year-old mechanical systems will also be updated to improve energy efficiencies while safety and accessibility deficiencies will also be corrected.
These preparations will cause shifts in pedestrian traffic around the LSC. A construction fence will be in place between the west side of the LSC Theatre and the east side of Arthur’s ditch. Sidewalks over the Vietnam Memorial Era Bridge and the sidewalk between the Transit Center and University Avenue will be closed.
Changes inside the student center are limited to the Curfman Art Gallery and the ASCSU Senate chambers, both of which will be closed. Although the above-mentioned sidewalks are not accessible, the LSC Theatre will be open and available for use throughout the renovation process.
After graduation ceremonies in May 2013, LSC central (center area of the student center that does not include the Theatre or the Transit Center) will close as the Student Center Re•vitalization officially begins. In addition to the LSC Theatre being open, LSC North which includes the CSU Bookstore, The Transit Center, University Club; Aspen Grille, Cam’s Lobby Shop, Bagel Place II, Info desk II, the North Ballroom and various meeting rooms will also remain open throughout the Project. RAMTech will be relocated to LSC North as well.
The project cost is $65 million, comprised of $5 million in reserves and $60 million to be bonded and paid back in student fees, which will not go into effect until Fall 2015. Students voted during the 2010-11 academic year to renovate the LSC and increase student fees by $70 following the completion of the project.
About 20,000 people pass through the halls of the Lory Student Center every day. While we understand the construction process is difficult, the end result will be a more modern, user-friendly, and energy efficient space that students, families, and the surrounding community will be able to enjoy for decades to come.
For all the latest updates about office, dining, and meeting space relocations throughout the renovation process visit the Student Center Revitalization website.
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Get Your Student's 1098-T Tax Form Faster, Easier & Greener!
By Debbie Owens, A/R Accountant, Accounts Receivable
It’s almost tax time! Colorado State University is required to annually provide eligible students with an IRS Form 1098-T. The information on this form is used to determine eligibility for federal income tax education credits. For more information, visit the IRS website and view IRS Publication 970 or consult your tax specialist. If you have questions about your 1098-T form, please email email@example.com.
Colorado State University is requesting your student’s consent to receive the 1098-T tax form electronically. If you would like your student to receive their 1098-T form electronically, please ask your student to log into RAMweb, click on Tax Information (listed under Financial Information), and follow the instructions (see link from image above). Be sure that your student is signed up by January 15 to ensure electronic delivery of the 2012 1098-T form.
Benefits to Receiving the 1098-T Form Electronically
will now be available earlier for students who selected to receive their information electronically,
is more secure,
eliminates the chance of the form getting lost, misdirected, or misplaced,
allows you to access current and past years’ 1098-T tax information, and
is friendlier to the environment and supports CSU as a green University.
Questions? Contact Debbie Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Emily Allen, Community Liaison, Off-Campus Life
Many people think about what they are thankful for around this time of year – that’s one of my favorite things about the fall season. CSU’s Off-Campus Life and The City of Fort Collins’ Neighborhood Services coordinate a wonderful annual event here in Fort Collins that really drives home the spirit of giving – Fall Clean-up. This year marked the eighth year of bringing together CSU student and staff volunteers to help residents in need with leaf raking and other yard clean up.
The event has grown quite a bit over the years and this year saw over 1,000 CSU volunteers who helped 171 elderly or disabled residents. This is a program that requires many partnerships and each year I am impressed to see all of the various entities (United Way, Faith Evangelical Free Church to name a few) pull together to help these neighbors in need. As teams were out picking up bags of leaves, a woman receiving help came out in tears to thank them. She was so pleased with the kindness of the CSU students who had helped her and wanted to make sure we knew how thankful she was.
What makes this program so special is that it goes beyond helping residents in need prepare their homes for the fall/winter season. It helps connect students with long-term residents across the city. In this year’s student volunteer survey, 98% of students felt that assisting with Fall Clean-up helped them feel more a part of the Fort Collins community. Additionally, 91% of students felt that as a result of participating in Fall Clean-up, they would be less likely to choose behaviors/actions that could negatively impact neighborhoods in the Fort Collins community. 93% of students felt that by assisting with Fall Clean-up they are more motivated to help maintain neighborhood quality of life for which Fort Collins is known.
The neighbors who received assistance have provided a great deal of feedback and 97% of them agreed that Fall Clean-up helped them feel more connected to CSU students and that the program gave them a greater appreciation of students as neighbors in our community. Finally, 99% of neighbors agreed that without Fall Clean-up they would be unable to prepare their home for the fall/winter season.
Here are just a few of the comments neighbors shared:
“I have never been so impressed. If these students are the future of America, we have great hope. Wonderful spirit of giving and I saw some beautiful teamwork and leadership displayed. At the end they were like my daughters!”
“I love CSU students! What an amazing program. I truly couldn’t stay in my home without this wonderful service. THANK YOU. I can’t express enough how much it means to me. I very much enjoy the students.”
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Healthy Student, Happy Family: Stress & Finals
By Marie Allen, Coordinator of Marketing & Communications, CSU Health Network
Good health is essential to academic success. The CSU Health Network is your student’s partner in staying mentally and physically healthy while at college.
Students can be especially susceptible to communicable diseases due to their lifestyles and living arrangements. The CSU Health Network has flu and meningitis vaccines available now. Please encourage your student to visit Hartshorn and get vaccinated to ensure a healthy new year. For more information about flu and meningitis prevention visit our website.
Stress and Finals
With finals just around the corner, this can be a stressful time for your student. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: winter break! In the meantime, you can help make sure your student is taking care of him- or herself by reducing stress.
Check in with your student from time to time and let him or her know that it is normal to be stressed at times like these. Share these steps to make things easier:
Avoid procrastination: Although it can be tough, waiting until the last minute to complete a project or study for an exam will only increase stress levels and the quality of his work will most likely suffer.
Set a schedule and prioritize: Remind your student to prioritize that to-do list and set aside time for each task. Also, if she works at a job, requesting fewer hours during finals can help reduce stress. Most employers are understanding of a student’s workload.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Remind him to make healthy food choices, drink caffeine only in moderation, and weave in some physical activity for stress relief. Sleep is also critical. A healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy mind and taking breaks will make study time more efficient.
Breathe!: Too much stress and anxiety lowers performance levels and the capacity to learn new material. Have your student take some deep breaths to relieve stress and focus his attention.
Your Student At Home
Speaking of winter break, here is some advice to share with your student as he or she adjusts to being back home for the first time:
R & R: Since the end of the semester can be stressful, he might be fatigued and need more sleep the first week of break. Understand that he may want to relax during break to rejuvenate for next semester.
Changes: Help her be prepared if her room has been turned into an office or guest bedroom. Let her know friends might be different from the last time they were together.
Family Expectations: During the past few months he has probably gained some autonomy. Let him know your expectations when at home. Have an open conversation right away about your new lives and come to an agreement/compromise about how things will work now.
Work: Breaks are a great chance to make some extra cash if options are available. Encourage him to put in a few hours; however, also encourage him to make some time to relax.
Stay Active: Don’t let boredom hit! Find ways to stay active as a family. Perhaps your student has some new ideas for leisure activities.
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Home for the Holidays
By Carol Jones, CSU Parent
Special note: This is the first in a series of articles directly from parents or family members of CSU students. If you are interested in writing an article for the CSU Parent & Family Newsletter, please contact Kacee Collard Jarnot.
For most families, the holidays are a time for family to gather and enjoy traditions. When there is a college student involved, it is a special time of welcoming him or her back home and adjusting to the changes that have taken place since that student ventured out. My family is no different—we look forward to our Christmas Eve fish chowder, followed by Christmas Eve services, followed by a board game, and always ending with a raucous, round reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” However, there has been little adjusting to do for my returning college students because they’ve always been close enough to come home for just about any occasion.
Our home is in Larimer County, just a few miles northeast of Fort Collins. Our oldest son chose CU and graduated in 2010. Our second son is currently a junior at CSU and lives in town in the house we bought when he enrolled. Our daughter is planning to attend CSU in the spring and is still living at home. They’ve all been close enough to be home for most any reason, yet my two sons are not obligated to, or have a need to, “move” back in—except for Christmas Eve!
In particular, this arrangement has worked very well with my CSU student. He figured out early on that in order to be academically successful, he needed to completely focus on his schoolwork. He did not feel he could work a part-time job and keep up his grades. So instead, he works for mom and dad on the weekends, weather and time permitting. He shows up, scours the refrigerator and usually ends up having dinner as well as taking left-overs back to his house. When we have friends visiting, he can pop over for a dinner. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other holiday is easy because he is so accessible. We enjoy the family gathering, the discussions, the games, the food, and then, he gets to go home to his place—a place we appreciate as much as he does.
This arrangement for him to live separate from us yet be close enough to help out when needed, join in a dinner with family friends, and never miss a beat with family holiday traditions is a boon for our relationship. He wants and should have his independence, yet he knows he is still financially dependent on us. He is respectful of this arrangement, as we are. The result is a low-pressure, mostly-easy going relationship between his widening independence and the place, I hope, he will always call home.
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