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March2013 Volume 7 | Issue 8

Dear CSU Parents and Families:

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I’m writing this opening letter while watching the most beautiful winter snowfall in Fort Collins, and, I have to admit, I’d love a snow day (I’m sure your students are hoping for one too!).

My thoughts have been on some recent articles about the positive and negative impacts of involved parents and families on college student success. I resonate with the conclusion reached by Marc Cutright, associate professor of higher education at the University of North Texas, “If parents sometimes seem irrational, it might be worth asking if our own closest relationships always run smoothly and logically” (White, 2013). When we receive panicked calls or emails, we do our best to empathize and problem-solve to determine best options for moving forward, without taking the emotions personally.

At Colorado State University, we understand parents and family members want the best for their students and you know your students best. Thus, if we work together, our expertise on student development and learning can combine with your love, to foster students’ growth toward becoming interdependent, responsible, educated citizens of the world. These characteristics describe our objective for Colorado State University graduates. Recently a colleague released her list outlining “what students are supposed to learn, be able to do, and be like when they complete a college degree”:

  1. In-depth knowledge of a major area of study
  2. Practical Competence
  3. Cultural Intelligence
  4. Civic Learning and Engagement
  5. Social Responsibility. (Dungy, 2013)

Let us know what you think of this list (or even answer our March poll question!).  Would you add or change anything for your own Colorado State University student?

One last reminder:  if you’ve not yet done so already, please consider helping a Colorado State University PhD student who is researching parent expectations of teaching and caring at different types of higher education institutions.  It should take 8-10 minutes to complete.  Please click on this link to access the survey:

Beware of the Ides of March!



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
(970) 491-5312

Dungy, G. (2013). Honing the list: Essential knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics of college graduates. Retrieved from

White, J. (Feb. 20, 2013). Let’s drop ‘helicopter parents’ from our vocabulary. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

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Advising Insights: Reflecting on Academic Experiences

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Carmel Hill

By Carmel Hill, Academic Advisor, Center for Advising and Student Achievement

It is time for self-reflection

“Joe Klein, plan out a major, 8:30-9:30 am, Friday, Feb. 15” my appointment notes said.  That didn’t give me much to go on as I greeted Joe. As we settled in, Joe turned in a notebook to a page with a half dozen questions scribbled out under the title “Advisor Meeting”.

“I’ve been doing some thinking,” he said. “I am really good at building relationships. I like to think creatively, I like to design stuff, and I like the idea of being in a corporate setting. My dad suggested I look into marketing as a major. An interest inventory I took at the Career Center suggested marketing too. I really struggle with math.”

 “What is marketing, really?” he asked.  We discussed the marketing curriculum and possible careers. Responding to his comments about math and design, I suggested we also take a look at a Journalism and Technical Communication program with a concentration in advertising and public relations. We compared course check sheets for Marketing with Journalism. Journalism ended up being a better fit for the skills Joe wanted to develop.

Joe had considered a minor in a foreign language, but when he heard about our general business minor, he jumped at that possibility.

It’s time for a 4 year plan

Journalism asks students to meet entrance requirements before they can declare the major, so we planned for Joe to meet those by the end of the fall 2013 semester and complete the remaining major requirements in the following five semesters.

Like many majors, Journalism asks students to complete four core classes. We planned for Joe to complete those in his first two semesters in the major so he’d have the pre-requisite classes needed to take some of the advanced classes in marketing, advertising, and public relations that interested him. Not all upper division classes are offered every semester, so I asked him to work closely with the department to anticipate electives.

Once we laid out the Journalism major, we found he would only have room in his four year plan for one minor.

Before he left, we logged in to his RAMweb account and clicked on “My Undergraduate Degree Plan” to launch a Degree Audit Report and monitor his progress towards a degree. I also suggested Joe get some marketing experience with a student club.

Joe was doing a lot of things right, and his four years at CSU will be the better for it. If your student hasn’t already done so, this is a great time for students to reflect on their academic goals. Students who are committed to a major can be narrowing their area of interest within the field.  All students should be adapting the generic four year plan, which is available on most department websites, to fit their unique interests. An appointment with an academic advisor is a great place to start. Your student’s advisor and contact information is listed on their RAMweb homepage. If your student is interested in summer classes, summer registration opens for all students on March 26. Registration for fall classes opens for seniors on April 9, juniors on April 12, sophomores on April 19, and first year students on April 26. Your student should seek advising as early as March to be prepared to register on time.

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Assessment Results: Campus Safety and Warmer Weather

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Campus Safety

By Dell Rae Moellenberg, Senior Communications Coordinator & Colorado State University Police Department Public Information Officer for the Department of Public Relations

Each spring, the energy on campus picks up – students and faculty are busy preparing for the end of the semester, and everyone is looking forward to warmer weather. Yet, even through campus and Fort Collins are safe communities, with spring also come some unwelcome trends.

In the spring, there are increased numbers of bike and pedestrian accidents on campus. If your student is riding a bike on campus, your student should remember they must obey all traffic laws, just as if they are driving a car. This includes stopping at stop signs. If your student drives on campus, please remind him or her to pay extra attention to bikes and pedestrians.

With warmer weather, your student also may be tempted to throw open the windows and doors for fresh air. Please remind them not to leave their doors or windows open and unlocked while they are gone or sleeping; this provides an opportunity for someone to break into a home or peep into a window. They also should keep their curtains drawn for privacy to prevent someone from looking into their home.

Students also start to socialize more this time of year. Many students walk to friends’ homes or local restaurants. Unfortunately, as in most college towns, spring also sometimes brings an increased number of sexual assaults. Remind your student to be aware of their surroundings. Keep doors and windows locked when away from home or at night. Let a friend know where they are and who they are with at all times. Your student should not walk alone at night and should not accept a ride from someone you do not know well and trust. Students should consider using the RamRide or Safe Walk services.  Also, remind your student to stand up for other students if they feel that a student isn’t safe. We want students to take care of themselves and each other.

As finals approach, we also notice that students become more stressed. The university has a system in place that encourages students and employees to Tell Someone. If your student is concerned about a friend – or themselves, the Tell Someone system provides an avenue for them to alert the university about someone who may be in distress. The referral, which is confidential, can help connect students to resources on campus such as counseling services and case management services, which can help a student navigate the university during a time of crisis. People who may be experiencing an emotional difficulty or mental health illness may show specific signs that they need help. Information about campus resources and about signs that someone may need help is available on the Tell Someone site.

We want your student to be safe! Thanks for your help in spreading these messages.

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Learning Outcome: Overcoming Academic Missteps

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Academic Struggle


By Miel McCarthy, Retention Coordinator, Student Diversity Programs and Services and Denver Scholarship Foundation

It can be incredibly scary and frustrating for both the student and their families when a student is having academic difficulties. I am working with a student this semester that found himself on academic probation. He acknowledged that he spent way too much time playing video games last semester and would sleep through some of his morning classes due to staying up late with friends. He originally decided not to share his academic standing with his parents because he felt bad about not doing well especially when his parents are financing his education. He recently decided to tell his parents and stated that he was surprised about how supportive they were even though they are disappointed.  His parents are encouraging him to make better choices about how he spends his time and have set clear expectations for this semester and discussed how his choices this semester may affect their financial support in the future. In addition to the resources this student is accessing this semester, I believe the messages he is hearing from his parents are part of the reason he is doing so well this semester.

There can be many reasons why a student is struggling academically but common reasons are:

  • difficulty in specific academic areas or lack of preparation for the course
  • navigating  time management, choice of friends, behavior, or mental health challenges
  • life stressors, like a difficult living situation, financial worries, or familial challenges

When working with students who have struggled academically or been disappointed about how the semester is going, I usually try to pose questions that indicate behavior and give me more insight into why a student might be struggling. Some questions I ask are:

  • What campus resources are you using that you find to be most helpful?
  • Do you have enough time in the week to accomplish all that you want to do?
  • What has been the most overwhelming issue for you in the last 6 months?
  • What behaviors are you responsible for that are affecting you academically?

Asking the above questions may be helpful in deciphering what the student’s greatest challenges may be and how these challenges are affecting the student academically.  The CSU campus has a variety of resources that are helpful in supporting students to be happy, healthy, and academically successful members of the community.  As a family member, one of the best ways to support your students is to encourage them to access the resources on campus that are designed to support student success.

  • Resources for Disabled Students: provides testing and accommodations for students that may have a learning difficulty. Services are provided for difficulties that range from test anxiety to
  • TILT: free tutoring, study groups, and academic skills workshops
  • Tutoring@Colostate: a new website that provides information on a variety of tutoring services offered on campus
  • CSU Health Network: a comprehensive health system that offers care for body and mind
  • Student Case Management: coordinated needs assessment, referral and follow-up

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Fort Collins Living

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Fort Collins

By Emily Allen, Assistant Director of Off-Campus Life

Previous newsletters have discussed everything from resources offered (Housing Fair – March 5!) to the importance of picking a roommate. In this final installment, we are bringing you some nitty gritty items that are vital to successful off campus living. As students transition into the community, below are some of the unique ordinances specific to Fort Collins.

  • Common City Ordinance Violations:
    • Occupancy (U+2) – The City has an occupancy limit, which limits the occupants of a home to no more than three unrelated people or a family plus one. If a violation is found, the residents and/or property owner may be issued a citation for each day the property is over occupied. Fines are up to $1,000 per day.  The Off-Campus Life website features places that have been granted extra-occupancy.
    • Noise ViolationsWhile it can be fun to host a party, noise is a top complaint in Fort Collins and can carry a $1,000 fine and a criminal misdemeanor charge. Your students can register their Friday and Saturday night parties through Off-Campus life to potentially get a 20 minute warning in order to break things up before police are needed.
    • Snow Shoveling – Residents are required to shovel sidewalks within 24 hours after the last snowfall. Students tend to get caught off guard when they leave for breaks and forget to find someone to help shovel their walks. Remind your student that it’s super important to build relationships with their neighbors early, so that they can ask for the snow shoveling help later!
    • Outdoor Storage – No furniture intended for indoor use may be placed outside or on an unenclosed patio. While the couch on the porch may seem cozy, it’s a no-no.
    • Parking – It is illegal to park backwards on a city street, block a driveway, park on any part of your lawn or unimproved surface, or remain parked on the street for more than 48 hours in the same place.
    • Yard Maintenance – Grass and weeds should not grow over 6 inches. Remind your student to check their lease and find out whether the landlord will be maintaining the lawn or if it is their responsibility.
    • Rental Habitability – There is protection for renters! If issues with water and heat are not resolved quickly by the landlord residents can call the City at (970) 416-2305 to schedule a rental habitability inspection and receive assistance in resolving the problem.
    • Avoid Renting a LemonIf a home has had tickets for noise, animal disturbances, parking on yards, over-occupancy, etc. it may be in jeopardy of becoming a “public nuisance property.” The Public Nuisance Ordinance follows the residence, not the tenants. When looking to rent, your student should check to see if the rental has a history of violations. The Neighborhood Services office, (970) 224-6046 can provide this information.
  • Other Helpful Reminders
    • Managing a BudgetStudents living off campus for the first time often report that they were not prepared for the expenses they incurred. Checkout the Student Handbook (which arrived in your first year student’s campus mailbox mid-February) for a sample budget spreadsheet or have your student visit Student Financial Services for more budgeting advice!
    • Renters InsuranceStrongly consider purchasing renters insurance. It’s inexpensive (about $125 for an entire year) and will protect your student’s belongings from damage or theft. It will protect them, more importantly, from paying thousands in accidental damage from water or fire.​​

Remember, Off-Campus Life is here to help your student successfully live in the great City of Fort Collins: or call (970) 491-2248!.

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Spring Break and Safety

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Umbrella on BeachBy Maria Marinucci, Graduate Assistant for Parent & Family Programs and Retention Initiatives

Spring break is just a couple short weeks away—a bright light at the end of what may seem like an endless tunnel.  Most students face due dates for major papers, critical assignments, and midterms, some of which could be worth upwards of half a student’s final grade.  While it is tempting to check out and just envision what spring break will be like, it is important students remain focused and engaged in their classes.  With this, stress levels may be running high, making things even more difficult.  Remind your student of the importance of taking care of him or herself and to explore resources such as the CSU Health Network, which has great “stress-less tips” and is offering several stress management workshops this month.

When spring break finally does arrive, encourage your student to enjoy the time away from classes and recharge for the push through the end of the semester.  Whether your student will be staying in Fort Collins, leaving town to visit family and friends, going on the idealized mountain or beach escape, or taking advantage of the wonderful service-learning opportunities offered through Alternative Spring Break, he or she will likely have some extra time on his or her hands.  There are many things in which students can engage to fill that time, making it a great opportunity to talk about safety and reiterate expectations around drugs and alcohol.

CSU Health Network has great tips regarding substance use.  For students over 21, remind them of the dangers of overconsumption of substances and of mixing alcohol and medications, and to look out for their friends.  While potentially tempting, it is important to note the hazards of the rapid consumption that is often a part of drinking games.  Encourage your student to eat before drinking, never leave a drink unattended, and to stay and leave with friends.  Equally as important, always have a designated driver to ensure the highest likelihood of safety for your student and others.

Even if alcohol and other drugs are not part of your student’s spring break plans, a conversation about safety is always relevant.  The CSU Police Department has great advice for safety both on and beyond campus, from keeping belongings secure and staying safe in the residence halls, to alerting others of plans when traveling and practicing safe bicycle riding.  Many more tips can be found online.

Regardless of your student’s break plans, hopefully they will be able to take a deep breath, reward themselves for their hard work, and enjoy a few moments of relaxation.  The week will surely fly by, and before any of us knows it, we will be gearing up for the end of the semester!

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Preparing for Midterms

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Students StudyingBy Christie Yeadon, Assistant Coordinator, The Institute of Teaching and Learning

Midterms can be intimidating for many students. Unlike finals week, students still have to attend all of their classes and take the midterms as well.  Although it can be overwhelming, there are some study strategies that can aid students as they come up on midterms:

Study for the class, not the test- A lot of students say they struggle with procrastination.  When students procrastinate and put off studying until right before the test, they aren’t really learning the information. Our brains don’t have the capacity to “cram” all the information and store it long-term. It is important for students to space out their studying and do a little studying every day. Research has shown that if students review the information periodically over time, it will be easier for them to remember the information.

Study by testing- Students often study by just re-reading notes or texts. This is not very effective because students may recognize the information, but not know if they can recall the information from memory. The best way for students to gauge their knowledge is to test themselves, by taking practice tests, using flashcards, quizzing each other with friends, teaching others, or trying to recall information without looking at notes/aids.

Take care of your body- You are probably always telling your student to get enough sleep and to eat healthy foods, right? It is true though! Too many students stay up late the night before tests cramming for tests and by the time they go to class, they are so exhausted their brains cannot function! Caffeine and sugar also can cause poor brain functioning. Students should be eating protein and healthy meals before tests.

When students are struggling academically, they should know that there are many people on campus ready to help! Here are a few of them:

  • Academic Advisors- Advisors know a lot about the resources on campus that can be helpful to students. This is sometimes the best place for students to go as a first stop to receive support.
  • Academic Coaching: The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) also offers academic coaching appointments where students can meet one-on-one with a professional to discuss study skills. These resources at TILT are free to students.  Visit the TILT website for more information.
  • Resources for Disabled Students (RDS)- RDS is a very helpful resource to students who think they might have a learning disability. Learning disabilities are not always apparent before college, so many students find out later in life that they have a disability.
  • Study Skill Workshops: If students need help with study skills, TILT offers study skill workshops every week.
  • Tutoring@CSU: Colorado State University has a new website called Tutoring@CSU which lists all the different free tutoring and study group programs on campus. The site also has a list of private tutors who are available to tutor students for a fee, and the site includes online tutorials for difficult concepts.

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Summer Session 2013

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Summer Session 2013 Banner

By Barb Gotshall, Summer Session Director

Is your student considering summer school at CSU?  For those students who have participated in summer session the feedback is positive. Summer classes are smaller. Students get individual attention from faculty and a higher level of participation. The campus is relaxed and friendly and courses are flexible and focused.  There are over 500 courses offered in the 4- and 8- week terms, giving students the flexibility to work and make other summer plans.

  • First 4-week term: May 20 – June 14
  • Second 4-week term: June 17 – July 12
  • 8-week term: June 17 – August 9
  • Third 4-week term: July 15 – August 9

Summer Session provides students the opportunity to complete a prerequisite, knock off a required course, improve their GPA, or lighten their course load for the fall or spring semesters. By visiting our webpage ( students and parents can review “Featured Courses” and watch the short video to learn what students and faculty have to say about summer session.

Students who are not yet CSU admitted students can enroll in Summer Session: there are no formal admission requirements. “Summer-Only” students need to complete the simple online summer application. Visit

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Help Your Student Have a Good Rental Experience

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Student Legal Services StaffBy Kathleen Harward, Director, Student Legal Services

There are good and bad landlords in Fort Collins and better and worse rental properties. To help your student choose well, please encourage your student to do the following:

  1. Be on alert from the very beginning. Don’t assume standard looking documents are fair. Read and understand every word of an Application form, as well as the Lease and any House Rules before signing.
  2. Don’t give more than a small payment with an Application form, less than $50. Some landlords collect large amounts and the fine print of the Application allows them to keep it if the tenant backs out. A tenant should never commit that much money until having time to read and analyze the lease. Ask for a blank lease at the earliest opportunity.
  3. View properties with a critical eye. Look for safety (outdoor lighting, secure doors and windows, trimmed bushes), good repair, functioning appliances and any signs of pests. Don’t be shy to flush toilets, run showers, faucets, garbage disposals, turn on stoves and microwaves, and check locks on windows and doors during viewing. Ask for a copy of the most recent furnace inspection.
  4. Before signing a lease, get legal advice from Student Legal Services. SLS’s experienced attorneys and staff will review leases, provide tips, and give any warnings pertinent to particular situations. They’ll also advise on the risks of violating the occupancy limit in Fort Collins.
  5. Pick roommates wisely. Roommate conflict leading to lease break is all too common and is expensive and painful for everyone. Ask potential roommates for references: talk to their prior roommates; discuss habits around noise, guests, drugs and alcohol use, and cleanliness.
  6. Respect the risk to your co-signor. Most leases in Fort Collins bind roommates to “joint and several liability”, meaning each roommate is liable for all the obligations. This extends to the co-signor as well. Most landlords require a co-signor with a first time or financially dependent renter.
  7. Buy renter’s insurance. It’s only about $10/month and not only protects belongings, but also provides liability coverage in case the tenant is found negligent in damaging the landlord’s property. (such as, water damage from broken pipes caused by setting the thermostat too low) Get quotes from your auto insurer and others.
  8. Extremely important! Document the condition of the property at move-in and again at move-out to protect the security deposit. Take pictures, or better yet, video, and make a check-in/check-out sheet noting all blemishes.
  9. Read more tips on leases on our website.

Student Legal Services is in Room 182 of the Lory Student Center and will remain there throughout the Student Center’s renovations. Appointments are made by coming into the office with student ID. Information on many legal topics can be found on our website.

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Healthy Student, Happy Family: A Message from the CSU Health Network

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CSUHN Optometrist By Marie Allen, Coordinator of Marketing and 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.

Counseling Groups and Workshops Encourage Mindfulness and Resilience

What would you guess is the number one factor affecting the academic success of CSU students and college students nationwide? If you guessed stress, you are correct.

According to the CSU Fall 2011 National College Health Assessment, a survey that polls students about their health behaviors, stress was the number one factor affecting academic performance. Stress caused performance issues that resulted in lower grades, dropping a course, or disruption of course work. Stress was followed closely by anxiety, sleep difficulties, work, and cold/sore throat and related illnesses.

So chances are, stress is having an impact on your student as well. In fact, over 87 percent of students surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed by all they had to do.

The CSU Health Network is focused on helping students boost their coping skills and resilience by encouraging proactive approaches to managing stress. Our message to students is that “holding on for dear life” until semester break is not the best strategy for handling overwhelming stress. There are more effective ways to manage stress before it builds.

CSU Health Network Counseling Services Groups and Workshops programs provide free, ongoing groups and one-time or multiple-session workshops to help students build skills in stress management. Clever titles like Taming the Anxious Mind, Riding the Wave of Emotion, and Accepting What Is give you a good idea of the variety of skills workshops offered. These groups and workshops provide students with opportunities to explore their inner strengths and capacity to flourish even in the midst of challenges.

One workshop growing in popularity focuses on mindfully managing stress. This four-week series leads students in group discussion and practice related to mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way to train oneself to be in the present moment with more attentiveness, awareness and acceptance. It is a practice of cultivating our innate connection between our mind and body and living in the here and now. Students learn how mindfulness can help them cope with difficult emotions and situations and lead a more meaningful and less stressful life.

Space is still available for the workshop starting in April, so encourage your student to check out this opportunity. Read more about Mindfully Managing Stress and other spring semester Groups and Workshops here: Spring Group Counseling Schedule.

Dental, Optometry, and Physical Therapy Services at the CSU Health Network

Parents and students alike know about the great primary and mental health care at the CSU Health Network, but many may not be aware that we are home to a range of other ancillary services. The CSU Health Network provides care for a student’s full body and mind—including dental, optometry and physical therapy services.

Whether it’s a refill for contact lenses, teeth cleaning, or healing massage, the CSU Health Network provides services for students at rates that are usually lower than those for the same services from community providers, and all with the convenience of never having to leave campus.  Check out our List of Services for more details.

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