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February2012 Volume 6 | Issue 7

Dear CSU Parents and Families:

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With a newsletter this full, we better keep the opening letter short!  We are officially back 'in the swing of things' with students fully engaged in their studies and co-curricular activities and many exciting things happening on the CSU campus.  February may be a short month, but it's a busy one!  Here are a few things we want to be sure you know about:

  • The priority deadline for both the FAFSA and the CSUSA application is March 1, 2012.  If you and/or your student haven't yet completed these forms to assist with financial aid, now is the time to do so.
  • Many of you have expressed interest in learning more about Study Abroad Programs.  While we'll offer a feature story in the coming months, we'd like all interested students to attend the Study Abroad Fair this Friday, February 10, 2012.  This great event pulls together many resources and allows students to explore the possibilities of incorporating study abroad into their academic experience at CSU - including scholarship opportunities.
  • February is Black History Month!  With events offered almost every day, we hope you'll encourage your students to attend the many programs offered to learn more and celebrate diversity on campus.
  • February is also the month of our first RAMFAM Association meeting of the semester - this Saturday, February 11, 2012.  Join us as we discuss financial aid information and the Year 2 Board presents second year programming. 
  • The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) is offering great academic workshops and skills classes to help students be effective in the classroom.  Topics range from overcoming procrastination to motivation and goal-setting.  Help your student start off the semester properly with these 45 minute workshops. 

We hope you find the above dates and information useful and we look forward to connecting with you at our next RAMFAM Association meeting!

take care,

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
(970) 491-5312

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Faculty Insight:  Practice Makes Perfect

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Dr. Karkhoff-Schweizer

By Dr. RoxAnn Karkhoff-Schweizer, Associate Professor, Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology

When I was an undergraduate, I spent copious hours in my professors’ offices, asking questions about the homework assignments they gave out.  Those questions confused me enough to know that I needed to seek help.  It was intimidating for me to walk into their offices and try to come up with good questions.

Thankfully, I quickly discovered how much my professors wanted me to truly learn.  Sometimes they would patiently spend time explaining a concept that I was struggling to understand.  Other times they would not give me the answers, but would instead encourage me to THINK OUT solutions and suggest WHERE TO LOOK for answers.  Gradually our conversation would gravitate to ‘why was I in college?” or “what am I going to do with my major after graduation?”   But something else also happened during our meetings- I found out that my professors were real people with hobbies, families, and car payments.  They had a fondness for pizza, and cried when their pet dog died unexpectedly.  It felt good that they knew my name and my hometown.  My fear of them began to ease.  I became more confident that I could return to their office again and ask more questions.  In time, my test scores started to improve.  With the help of my professors I managed to sort out a myriad of questions that baffled me.  

In my final semester before graduation I needed reference letters for employment.  Those same professors that I had gotten to know well were more than willing to help me.  They understood who I was, both as a person and as a scholarly student, and were therefore comfortable to write very strong reference letters on my behalf.    

Now, as a professor myself, I can empathize with my students who feel intimated and fearful about approaching me with their questions.  Although I try to do my part to dissipate fear, my students too must learn to build confidence and develop skills in approaching me, or any of their professors.  I encourage my students to not be afraid to approach me after class and first, introduce themselves to me.  Then, ask questions about the lecture.  Make an appointment, and come to my office hours.  Try to formulate a few key questions beforehand as a basis for our discussion.  As we meet and talk about the lecture material, students come to understand their command of the subject improves.  And, before they leave my office, hopefully they’ll look at the pictures and plaques on my office wall and recognize that I too am a real person, and someone that students can effectively communicate and connect with.

The acquired communication skills and confidence in interacting with one’s professors are invaluable tools for success.  Success will come in the form of higher academic performance.  More importantly, persistent ‘practice’ of these skills helps prepare students for that ultimate defining moment- their first job interview!  As an old saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’.

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Assessment Results:  Options, Options - Where to Live?

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Room Selection Banner

Interested in Living on Campus Another Year?

By Sylvia Cranmer, Communications Coordinator, Residence Life

Current students who would like to live on campus for the 2012-13 academic year have the opportunity to be part of the room selection process, which runs from February 6th through February 24th. There are many benefits to returning students who choose to live on campus:

  • First choice of rooms during room selection in February
  • The opportunity to request single rooms in Summit Hall, Aspen Hall, Parmelee Hall, and Durward Hall
  • Designated upper-division housing in Aspen Hall, Summit Hall, Parmelee Hall, and Newsom Hall
  • Higher GPAs - students who live on campus for a second, third or fourth year have higher GPAs than students who move off campus
  • Safety - 24/7 security in all residence halls
  • Ideal locations with easy access to student jobs in the halls and dining centers, and close proximity to classes and academic resources
  • Inclusive costs - room and board costs include all utilities, as well as cable and internet, and students do not have to worry about leases, splitting bills with roommates, or maintenance issues.

“Although it seems early to start thinking about living arrangements for next year, now is the time to make those decisions,” says John Malsam, Residence Life Assistant Director. “Our assignments team can help navigate the process, and is ready to help with any questions that may come up.”

Residence hall room selection is online and began on Monday, February 6.  Here are a few important room selection dates:

  • February 8-9 - Displaced students can select any available room on campus (i.e. students in first year buildings or programs)
  • February 13-24 - Open selection for any available space

For more information on room selection visit our website.

Apartment LeaseTips & Resources for Moving Off Campus

By Adrienne Battis, Assistant Director, Off-Campus Life

As we enter February, your student should be thinking about where to live next fall. The rental housing vacancy rate in Fort Collins has been very low this past year and it is anticipated that this trend will continue into next academic year.  With this in mind, it is important for students to decide sooner (rather than later) if they would like to move off campus or remain in the residence halls for another year.  Should they decide to move into the neighborhoods of Fort Collins, Off-Campus Life (OCL) is here to help them successfully make that transition.  Below are things to consider when planning a move off campus.

  • The Housing Fair, hosted by Off-Campus Life, occurs Wednesday, February 29, 9am-4pm in the LSC Main Ballroom, is the event where your student can visit with scores of landlords, apartment complex managers, property managers, and other important City partners while gathering information on places to live around town.
  • Students can also use the Off-Campus Life online rental search to find or post a place to live.  Students can list themselves as available roommates or search for roommating opportunities. Listings are updated daily and there is no cost to use our service.
  • Why pay rent when you can learn how to buy a house?  If you are thinking about buying a  home for your student and don’t know where to begin the First Time Home Buyers Class class covers steps for finding the right realtor, loan financing options, appraisals and inspections.
  • Students can pick up a free deck of cards, each designed with helpful neighborhood tips, information about local codes and ordinances, and useful phone numbers.  Students can pick them up in OCL or during any Off Campus Jeopardy presentation at the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference.
  • For up-to-the-minute updates from our office you can find us on Facebook as Off-Campus Life or Twitter as OffCampusRams.

For other helpful information and resources to assist in a possible move off campus, please visit our office website or call 970-491-2248. We are here to help your student make a successful transition to living in our great city!

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Sometimes Students Make Bad Decisions

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Worried parent or family member


By Jody Donovan, Dean of Students & Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs

Why doesn’t parenting get any easier, the longer we do it? Sure seems like after 18 or 19 years of parenting, we ought to be pretty good at it, don’t you think?  My husband and I are amazed at the number of opportunities to doubt ourselves when responding to our college freshman and high school sophomore sons’ decision-making and choices. 

Kacee asked me to write about the importance of recognizing that students will often make mistakes and use poor decision making while in college.  She and I respond to numerous calls and emails from parents and family members lamenting their students’ poor choices or bad behavior and asking for advice.  Whether the issue involves academics, finances, relationships, personal health or time management, students will make mistakes.  When I think back on my own college experience, I’m haunted by some of my poor choices.  And then again, I also remember the lessons learned from making these mistakes, nearly 30 years later.  Perhaps I remember these lessons because they often included messages of disappointment and love, as well as tough consequences from my parents.

And now, as parents, my husband and I find ourselves in these same situations, responding to one or the other son’s knucklehead behaviors, smacking our foreheads and wondering, “What was he thinking?”  We’ve found counting to ten, taking a few deep breaths, and putting things into perspective are all good strategies when we get that dreaded email or call that begins with, “Well, I did something stupid and ….”

After we take time to assess the situation, we do a "gut check,” trust our instincts and then begin brainstorming consequences.  As a family, we strongly believe in consequences for choices.  Good things stem from good behaviors; tough things come from not-so-good decisions.  Whether this involves letters of apology, community service hours, financial restitution, restrictions to freedom, or other creative sanctions, it is important for our sons to know they will face consequences if they make mistakes.

As much as I would love it if our sons never made mistakes and always exhibited stellar problem-solving and decision making, I understand this is not realistic.  Developmentally, it is appropriate for them to stumble, pick themselves up and figure out how to do things differently in the future. One of my favorite mottos focuses on the importance of never making the same mistake twice.  Our sons understand we love them unconditionally and we have high expectations.

In closing, it is rarely the end of the world when your student makes a mistake but he or she needs to know you are there with love and consequences.  I encourage you to have this conversation with your student to develop your strategies when "knucklehead" things happen, to continue to develop your student's awareness of the impact of bad choices and to remember that sometimes we learn our best lessons "the hard way".

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Maintaining Academic Integrity at CSU 

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Worried student in a classroom

By Elaine Green, EdD, Director of Academic Integrity for The Institute for Learning and Teaching and Assistant Director in Conflict Resolution & Student Conduct Services

“Hi; I’m calling to tell you that one of my professors caught me cheating on a test.”

This is a call no parent or family member wants to receive. Unfortunately, as has been the case at other universities, in moments of desperation CSU students occasionally cheat. It is inaccurate to assume that it is only the poorer performing students who cheat. In fact, those who cheat are often highly motivated students who find themselves in a bind, perhaps not realizing the consequences are more serious at a university than they would have been in their high school. (Definitions of prohibited acts and information on our conduct process can be found online and in the General Catalog Policies and Guiding Principles, page 7).

Because there are significant consequences to cheating, it is helpful to know why students commit academic misconduct and to have a discussion with your student to help him or her from making a poor decision.

Causes of Cheating: Procrastination, Procrastination, Procrastination

Academic misconduct stems from both dishonesty and making simple mistakes.  Students may cheat intentionally due to:

  • Poor time management (the most likely reason)
  • Having a poor grasp of the material
  • Feeling the class is not relevant
  • Thinking they won't be held accountable

Unintentional plagiarism is frequently the result of:

  • Misunderstanding when and how to cite sources
  • Sloppy note taking when researching
  • Using tutors or editors (including parents & families!) who re-write a paper instead of just pointing out what needs to be improved

Tips for Prevention

College is a time to hone one’s academic skills. CSU has a variety of resources to help students master their coursework. Time management tops the skills that will help students avoid running into last minute problems. Instructors, teaching assistants, and tutors are available to students who plan ahead and who need help understanding the course material.

Your student can get help with academic skills by attending a free workshop offered by the TILT Learning Programs. The upcoming schedule is posted on our website, as is tutoring help.
In addition, online resources and the CSU Writing Center will help students apply proper citation techniques to avoid unintentional plagiarism.

Core Value at CSU:  A Campus of Character

The university General Catalog states:

The foundation of a university is truth and knowledge, each of which relies in a fundamental manner upon academic integrity and is diminished significantly by academic dishonesty. Academic integrity is conceptualized as doing and taking credit for one’s own work. A pervasive attitude promoting academic integrity enhances the sense of community and adds value to the educational process. All within the University are responsible for and affected by the cooperative commitment to academic integrity.

You may have heard of the honor pledge recently implemented at CSU. Instructors ask students to sign a pledge that they have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on academic work. Other universities have found that this practice reminds students of their values, their commitment to each other, and reinforces integrity as a foundation of academia.

The campus-wide policy sprang from a student initiative within the Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU), the campus student government. Student leaders wished to enhance the culture of integrity as a way to demonstrate their Ram Pride in CSU as a Campus of Character, and to buttress the value of a CSU degree. Faculty Council was quick to embrace the concept as well.

Again, no family wants to find their student in this situation.  I hope you find this information helpful in assisting your student in understanding the importance of academic integrity at CSU.  Please do contact me with any questions you may have.

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A Student Perspective for Parent & Family Programs

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Jake Pappas

By Jake Pappas, Sophomore, President's Leadership Program Intern with Parent & Family Programs

Hello everyone! My name is Jake Pappas and I am interning with Parent and Family Programs this semester. My main goal in interning with this dedicated office is to provide a student perspective to questions and concerns that current and prospective parents may have about Colorado State. I was born and raised here in Fort Collins, Colorado and currently am a sophomore at the University. I belong to the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Applied Human Sciences, working towards my degree in English with a concentration in Education. I’ll hopefully be teaching high school at some point after graduation.

I lived in the residence halls for my first year on campus and was instantly connected with many resources and opportunities to get involved at Colorado State. I joined the President’s Leadership Program and became a founding father for a new fraternity on campus in the first few months of classes, quickly beginning to feel like this increasingly large university wasn’t as big as I once thought.  I became employed on campus at the residence hall I lived in as a desk staff worker as well. I was lucky enough to be hired to work with Orientation and Transition Programs in the spring of my first year at CSU, and spent the majority of my first summer of college working with the incoming students of the Class of 2015. After having the opportunity to learn about the needs and concerns of first-year students, I found I really enjoyed working with their parents and families as well.

This brings me to where I am right now – interning with Parent and Family Programs in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. My main objective in this role is to offer an authentic student perspective about the various aspects of campus and off-campus life at Colorado State and the surrounding Fort Collins community. Please feel free to drop by our Facebook group (Colorado State Parents & Families) to see more information about what our office is doing, as well as to ask questions regarding student life at the University. I’d be happy to talk to any of you about the awesome things going on at Colorado State.

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February RAMFAM Association Meeting

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RAMFAM graphic

It's finally here!  Our first meeting of the semester! 

This month's RAMFAM meeting is a blend of learning more about an underserved population on campus and ensuring you have all the necessary information to complete the FAFSA/CSUSA. 

Join us as members of the Year 2 Board discuss the challenges of being a second year student, highlight the programs offered to students in their second year, and help families learn more about the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference. 

We'll also provide "need to know" information on the FAFSA process, making sure you have up-to-date information on applying for financial aid.  Please note:  we will not go into depth regarding scholarships and financial aid, as Connie Jaime-Lujan presented at two RAMFAM Association meetings last year to cover the topics.  For families with in-depth questions, we encourage you to review the videos and contact Student Financial Services at (970) 491-6321 or visit them in Centennial Hall.  Click on the links below to watch the video and review the handouts.

We also recommend reviewing the CSU 2011-2012 Financial Aid Guide.

Who:  All Parents and Families of CSU Students
When:  Saturday, February 11, 2012
Time:  10:00 am – Noon, Mountain Standard Time
Where:  Lory Student Center on campus or online via the webcast and RAMFAM Blog
Cost:  FREE!!

Tentative Agenda:
  • Welcome & Networking Time for Families in the Room
  • Year 2 Board and Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference
    • Jessica Mitchell, Senior, Technology & Marketing Coordinator
    • Ethan Gordon, Junior, Alternative Break Site Leader & Year 2 @ CSU Coordinator
    • Amber Numamoto, Senior, Academic Programming & Career Development Coordinator
  • Financial Aid Updates & Information

Look for details on meeting location & webcast logistics in a separate email and on the Parent & Family homepage.

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Apply for Financial Aid for 2012-2013 by March 1

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Money in a BagBy Christie Leighton, Student Financial Services

It's time to file your 2011 federal income tax return and apply for financial aid for 2012-2013.  Colorado State University’s priority deadline to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is March 1, 2012.

See below for the steps to follow.  We encourage you to save this information and reference it when you have questions about the financial aid process.

  • Complete your federal income tax return and submit it electronically to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Approximately 2 weeks after filing your federal tax return, go to www.fafsa.gov to complete the FAFSA.  CSU’s school code is 001350.  We encourage you to use the IRS tax data retrieval process to import your federal income tax information into your FAFSA.
  • After Student Financial Services at CSU receives your FAFSA data, we will review the application and contact your student by email if we need any additional documentation.  If you are asked to verify the accuracy of your financial information you MUST either go to  www.fafsa.gov and complete the IRS tax data retrieval process or submit a federal tax transcript from the IRS to Student Financial Services.  We CAN NO LONGER accept a paper copy of your federal tax return; we MUST receive a tax transcript from the IRS.  This can be requested online at www.irs.gov or by calling the IRS Transcript Order Line at 1-800-908-9946.
  • After SFS has reviewed the FAFSA (and any requested documentation) we will award financial aid to your student.  We will send them an email directing them to RAMweb where they will be able to view their financial aid awards and meet their financial aid requirements.

Tips for Completing the Financial Aid Process

  • Submit the FAFSA by March 1 based on completed federal income tax returns
  • Check email and RAMweb (financial aid section) often
  • Complete all financial aid requirements in a timely manner

To be eligible to receive financial aid, students must be admitted to the University and be making satisfactory academic progress.

If you have questions, contact Student Financial Services.  You may visit us in Centennial Hall or call us at (970) 491-6321.  You may also follow us on Facebook.

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The National Survey of Student Engagement - Happening Now!

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NSSE Posters on CampusBy Heather Novak, Statistical Analyst, Institutional Research, Colorado State University

This week, first year and senior students received emails asking them to participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).  The NSSE is designed to assess the extent to which students are engaged in identified good educational practices and what they gain from their college experience.  Specifically, the NSSE measures the following items:

  • Level of Academic Challenge
  • Active & Collaborative Learning
  • Student-Faculty Interaction
  • Enriching Educational Experiences
  • Supportive Campus Environment

The results allow institutions to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses and identify areas of improvement and respondent comments are pivotal in creating change on the CSU campus.  Past student responses led to increased support for diversity experiences, increased experiential learning, and more academic resources outside the classroom. 

Those who complete the entire survey this spring will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad or a gift certificate to the CSU Bookstore. 

Learn more about the NSSE online and encourage your students to exercise their voices to make a better CSU!

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Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference

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GTY2 conference attendees

By Stefanie Lucas, Graduate Assistant for First & Second Year Programs, Orientation & Transition Programs, Center for Advising and Student Achievement

Getting to Year 2 @ CSU is a two day conference, February 21 and 22, on campus in the Lory Student Center for first year students (in their second semester).  Research states that in their second year, students begin to feel challenges associated with academics, establishing future goals, finances and feeling a connection to campus and faculty.  The purpose of the conference is to provide students with information and resources to assist students with their transition to their second year with a variety of sessions including transitioning to off-campus life, time management, stress relief, and opportunities to study abroad. Session presenters are from across campus and include staff and faculty. 

Benefits of the conference include:

  • Engaging in discussion about important second year student issues
  • Networking with campus faculty, staff, and first year peers
  • Learning valuable skills
  • Feeling acknowledged as a part of the greater campus community
  • Having greater knowledge about the resources to support students in their second year

Sessions will be offered at multiple times throughout the two days so a student can choose sessions that work with his or her schedule.  The conference is free to attend, and students that pre-register receive a free “Year 2 @ CSU” t-shirt. Students can pre-register here.   

Tune in to the February 11, 2012 RAMFAM Association meeting to hear more about the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference and opportunities for second year students to get involved from students on the Year 2 @ CSU Board.

Click here for the two day detailed schedule and session descriptions.

For questions, or additional information, feel free to contact Orientation and Transition Programs at (970) 491-6011 or email us.

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Life-Changing Involvement Opportunities 

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SLiCE graphic

By Brandon Devlin, Junior English Major, Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement Student Staff Member

For this month’s Parent and Family Newsletter, I was asked to write about an experience that has changed my life. I have considered this question at length and I am still finding it hard to pin point one experience that has changed my path in life. Not that I haven’t had amazing experiences, on the contrary. I’ve participated in many amazing retreats, workshops, trips, and events, so placing one above the all rest would paint an overly simplistic picture of how integral the Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement (SLiCE) Office has been to my success here at Colorado State University.

When I first arrived at CSU I was definitely overwhelmed, both with the size of the campus and with the amount of opportunities available. I felt a little disconnected and didn’t know where to begin. It didn’t take me long though to find RamLink, CSU’s social network of sorts for student organizations. As soon as I signed on to RamLink I found a plethora of organizations and programs to get involved in. By joining the Transfer Student Organization, Alternative Spring Breaks program, and a few other SLiCE initiatives, I found a lot of students with interests and passions similar to my own. SLiCE helped make the campus feel smaller and more welcoming.

SLiCE also has helped me focus on what I wanted to do after graduation. During my first two years in college I changed my major about five times and still felt that there was something missing in my career goals. While classes and academic councilors are essential to graduation, getting involved in the different leadership development programs that SLiCE offers gave me more insight into how I can use the information from the classroom to reach my ultimate goals. Programs like LeaderShape, the President's Leadership Program, and Rams Engaging in Active Leadership (REAL) allowed me the time and space to discuss what I really value in life, what my strengths are, and how to be the best person I can be. All of the leadership programs and events that I have been involved with have helped uncover my strengths and passions, pointing me in the direction of Student Affairs. I have really enjoyed being involved with co-curricular activities throughout my career in higher education, and because of this I’ve looked for any opportunity to help other students get involved.

So while there may not be one specific experience that has changed my life, getting involved with SLiCE has given me the ability to find a greater purpose in life that is concurrent with my strengths and values. I have been granted a greater sense of agency as I have engaged with other students and found my own leadership potential. 

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