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May2012 Volume 6 | Issue 9

Dear CSU Parents and Families:

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We’re consistently amazed at how time flies in the spring semester.  With all of the celebration and recognition events that take place in April, along with the beautiful weather, it’s sometimes easy to forget students are still in classes with mounting homework and finals looming in a few short weeks.  For those of you with graduating seniors – congratulations!  What an awesome accomplishment for you and your student.  As you may know by now, CSU operates under a decentralized commencement model (separate graduation ceremonies for each College = nine graduation ceremonies over the weekend) and we hope you’ve used both the Commencement website and the RAMFAM Association Business Directory to plan your trip to Fort Collins.  A few things to make families aware of before diving in to the newsletter:

  • ‘Tis the season for care packages!  Please send your student a little pre-final examination TLC to help him or her over the last hurdle to the end of the semester.  In a recent film competition for Campus Movie Fest, some CSU students spoke to the importance of receiving mail in their short documentary, Empty
  • Fall 2012 Homecoming and Family Weekend dates have been set!  CSU’s festivities will be held October 5-7, 2012 here on campus with a Friday afternoon RAMFAM Association meeting with President Frank, Provost Miranda and Vice President for Student Affairs Hughes, a football game against Fresno State and a volleyball game against Seattle University, and all the traditional fanfare.  Visit the Homecoming & Family Weekend website for updates over the summer, but plan to be here by noon on Friday, October 5, 2012.
  • Thank you to those of you who sent your ideas for the “101 Things to Do Before Your Student Leaves Colorado State University” list.  We have quite a collection going, but are still looking for submissions.  If you have a suggestion or a favorite tradition you’d like to share with other families, please email Lisa Camino, parent of a son completing his junior year at CSU, at your earliest convenience.
  • We’ll be sending a link to the Parent & Family Programs biennial survey this summer.  In this survey, it is our aim to ask lots of questions about your experiences:  what you’d like to know more about as a parent or family member of a college student, your biggest concerns, and how we can be more helpful to parents and families of CSU students.  This survey is really important to our office, as it helps us with content for orientation, Ram Welcome, Homecoming & Family Weekend, our monthly eNewsletter, and RAMFAM Association meetings.  Be on the lookout for the survey this summer – we sure hope you’ll take a few minutes to offer your insights.

In closing, thank you for a fantastic academic year.  We’re always grateful for families who work to support their students throughout their collegiate experience and feel lucky we get to work with all of you.  Have great summer!

take care,

Jody & Kacee

Jody Donovan, Ph.D.
Dean of Students/Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs
jody.donovan@colostate.edu

Kacee Collard Jarnot, M.S.
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs
kacee.collard@colostate.edu

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: Finishing the End of the Semester Strong

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Dr. Shawn Archibeque

By Shawn Archibeque, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences

As we are approaching the end of the Spring 2012 semester, it is important for all members of the CSU faculty to remind ourselves and our students to maintain focus, continue to strive and succeed through the end of the semester.  It is an all too common occurrence for people (faculty and students) to begin to relax at this time of the semester.  Many students may feel their grades are already determined and here is little left for them to do that will vastly change the final outcome in their courses during this portion of the term.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as many classes have a full third of the points available yet to be earned before final grades are assigned.  Therefore it is crucial that we continue to stress the importance of finishing strong to our students through these final weeks. 

This time of the year may be likened to a foot race.  Just as the competitors are rounding the last bend, they can see the finish line and can feel their opponents edging ever closer to them.  Is this the time they would decide they had done enough and just stop or walk to the finish line?  No, this is the time they would put forth that extra burst of effort and pull from their final reserves to try to finish ahead of their challengers.  Similarly, this is the time where we need to encourage students to continue to study regularly and prepare for the “dash” that is finals week.  As a parent or family member, you can help.  Now is the time for students to prepare for that final push by studying.  Now is the time to speak with instructors during office hours about subject matter they may be struggling with to enhance their understanding.  Now is the time to use resources in The Institute for Learning and Teaching

By beginning the preparation and the push now, students will find finals week much less daunting.  Also, by meeting with professors, students may glean that extra little bit of advice to help them be truly successful in their classes overall.  Let’s continue to support students through this final leg of the Spring 2012 at our favorite University.

For additional information on saving a GPA late in the semester, visit this article in The Collegian.

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Assessment Results:  Goal Setting/Planning for the Future

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Academic Planning, courtesy of Microsoft OfficeBy Jody Donovan, Dean of Students & Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs

As a parent, I often wonder if our son really listens when his dad and I pass along our “sage advice” and wisdom. Of course, this doesn’t stop us from pontificating; however, we are getting better at doing more listening than telling as Matthew wraps up his first year in college. According to a number of surveys of college students across the country, students really do listen and value advice and guidance from their parents and family members (whether they actually act on that advice is another story!). 

You’ve heard Kacee and I share during presentations that parents and families are critical partners in students’ success at Colorado State University. Helping your student develop and work toward accomplishing goals for the next year is a great opportunity for shared dialogue and support.  The Donovan household has been tackling this over the past semester as Matthew experienced a “typical college transition,” learning more outside the classroom than inside in his first semester of college.  Over Winter Break, we collectively set and enforced expectations for studying, working, and socializing for second semester, and Matthew has worked hard to hold himself accountable and keep us informed of his progress. The Donovans feel strongly about the importance of learning from mistakes and being given an opportunity to self-correct. I know I’ve learned the best lessons after making mistakes and suffering the consequences (my high school and college friends can attest to this!).

As you sit down with your student at the conclusion of this spring semester (after they’ve had a proper amount of time to sleep off their finals week stress), here are some great sentence stems or conversation starters to support your student to set goals for next year:

  • How would you describe your academic performance this past semester?
  • What did you do well and what did you do poorly during this past semester in terms of academics?
  • What strategies did you see your friends employ that seemed to work well for them academically?  Are you interested in trying any of these strategies?
  • How do you figure out or understand the objectives of each of your classes?  Has this been easy or hard for you?
  • What skills do you now know you need to be a better student?
  • Has any faculty member given you encouragement?  Have you ever spoken to a faculty member?
  • In terms of personal relationships, do you have a few close friends with whom you can confide or seek support?  If not, what kinds of things might you do to seek out new acquaintances who might share similar interests and values?
  • With regard to personal health and well-being, describe how you’ve been doing in the following areas and if you are not currently satisfied, brainstorm possible strategies for improvement:
    • Sleeping
    • Eating
    • Exercising
    • Relaxing
    • Spiritual/Religious Engagement
    • Recreating/Socializing
  • When you are at your happiest state, what are you doing and who is around you?  What cues can you gain from this imagery? How can this help you focus on your academics and set you up for future success?
  • What is most helpful in terms of support from us, your parents or family members?

Best wishes for great conversations and productive planning for the future!

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Relieve Stress at the Rec Center!

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By Heather VanHall, Service Center Coordinator, Student Recreation Center

The end of the semester can bring on new challenges and high levels of stress for students. The Recreation Center is a great place for students to release this stress and tension through various programs and activities.

The Massage Therapy Program at the Recreation Center provides students a unique chance to experience and focus on their whole body wellness. It is important, as parents and family members, to support our students during this stressful time of year. You can help your student by encouraging them to come to the Rec Center and treat them to a relaxing massage as they finish their semester!

Remember, everyBODY needs to relax, re-energize and recuperate! You can purchase your student a massage by calling the Student Recreation Center at 970-491-6359.  Please visit our website for more information regarding the massage therapy program and prices.

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Changing Relationships

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family, courtesy of Microsoft OfficeThroughout their collegiate experience, students are working on becoming mature, productive, and engaged citizens of a global society.  This process includes becoming interdependent, widening world views and taking the lead on tough decisions, with family there to support the student.  We asked some Colorado State students about how their relationships have changed with their family (specifically with regard to making decisions, interpreting values, and changing conversations) since they’ve been in college, and here are their thoughts:

Kasey, Sophomore, Business Administration & Art

Since being forced to become more independent in college, I am more confident and make more decisions without my family being involved. I think this has been good for me to grow and good for them to see that I can handle being on my own. They are still interested and have opinions on certain decisions but I have really gained a lot from having more control over where my life is headed.

I still agree with the values that my parents raised me with, but I have also added some values of my own. I think this has allowed our family dynamic to grow, and become stronger.

Conversations with my family are a lot different than they were in high school.  Since I have had my own experiences, I feel like I can contribute more to adult conversations and am more confident in expressing my personal beliefs and opinions.  I also see my family less, so when I see them we all try to make the best out of the time we have which has been very rewarding and enjoyable.

Rachel, Senior, Psychology

I think that my mom and dad give me the space to take the lead on important decisions but they are always there to give advice and, since they give such great advice and have gotten me to the point in life that I am now, we basically collaborate on most important decisions. For example, I am going to graduate school in the fall and they helped me decide where to apply and helped me write my statements etc.  With that being said, I could have chosen to do whatever I wanted in the fall, but with their guidance I think I made the best choice.

I pretty much overall agree with everything my family taught me growing up, but I think that is because they never forced any certain way of thinking on me, they simply lead by example. I know some people who have parents that are overbearing and want them to be just like them and those people end up being completely opposite from their parents just to make a statement.

Conversations with my family have changed in that we are much closer and more open. In these four years of college lots of “real world” stuff has happened like deaths, divorces, marriage, births, life decisions, etc. and as I have gotten older we have all become more open to talking about a variety of things.  I also think they see me now as more mature, so they trust the decisions I make and just support me in whatever I want to do, where I want to go and who I want to be. It is not all that different than high school, as they have always been so supportive, but it’s about more serious topics and feels more “grown up”.

An, Sophomore, Human Development & Family Studies

Growing up, I was raised in a strict household where my mom was the authority figure. It’s either her way or nothing else. When I got my acceptance to CSU, she was pretty upset. She was emotional only because her youngest child was leaving her.  Taking that big step, attending Colorado State was my decision, and after that everything changed. My mom now sees me more as an adult than her child. The decisions that I made in the past she has been very supportive of and is still supportive today.

Erica, Junior, Communication Studies

My relationship with my family has changed in that they have become more my friends and less of someone to depend on. Now, as opposed to high school, I take the lead in important decisions.

I still agree with my family that school is very important and it is necessary to work hard to achieve what you want, however I have disagreed with my family, especially my father, that finding a paying job should be my number one priority. I also disagree that college has to be completed in only four years. Recently I decided to study abroad, however I am a broke college student and can’t afford the whole semester. So I did the alternative, taking a semester off to travel and take only one class abroad.

To my family this is just a way for me to waste time and postpone graduation.  To me this is a way to learn Spanish (my minor) the cheapest way possible-and of course to experience new culture. I blame the generation gap for the differences in opinion.

Lastly, my parents don’t see the bill for CSU so I don’t think they understand how painful it is to pay every year and how a semester off will save money. Now that I'm friends with my family, they always support me even when the decisions I make are not their favorite—there is a quiet assumption that as long as I am paying for myself my family can no longer dictate what I do.

Blake, Junior, Dance & Psychology

College grants people the ability to take the views of everyone they know, including their family's. My parents definitely made sure that I was granted the ability to choose my views and be able to change and mold them. That being said, I make most of the important decisions regarding my life with a lot of consideration for my family's input. My parents and I share a lot of the same opinions and ideas and I still agree with most of them. They are very accepting and, my mother especially, always challenged me to take others' views into consideration. My conversations about such situations as my life in general have become more of an open dialogue and less of a "I'm your parent and this is what you need to do". So there has been somewhat of a shift from when I was in high school, but I think that it is definitely a good one. It allows me to make my own decisions and mistakes with guidance from them, not their own potentially overbearing and structured path. I know they support me in whatever I do and I know they'll always be there to help me if I need it.

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Tips for the Summer:  Balance is Key

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Mountains, courtesy of the Flickr community siteBy Jake Pappas, Sophomore, President's Leadership Program Intern with Parent & Family Programs

Coming home for the summer can be a major adjustment for you and your student. After nine months (or more) of having them out of the house, getting used to them living under your roof again can become yet another transition. While some students are perfectly happy with sleeping in until the afternoon and not leaving the basement on weekdays, many students choose to spend their summer actively pursuing job interests or continuing their schooling. Regardless of your student’s drive this summer, we’d like to offer a few tips for families to help their students accomplish things over the break to better prepare them for the next academic year. Here are a few things we think might help:

As your student comes home from an intense period of high stress, they may seem a bit frazzled. Try to give them an opportunity to catch up on some well-deserved sleep. A home-cooked meal and some spare time to do laundry is also much appreciated.  Once they’ve had some time to recharge, have an open conversation with your student about their plans for summer break. Let your student take the lead in designing the break, but take an active role in brainstorming options.  Encouraging  him or her to think creatively about directly and indirectly advancing their college career is one of the most productive things you can do as a parent or family member.

For many students, having a summer job is not optional. Working more summer hours may mean your student doesn’t have to work as much (or at all!) during the academic year. A summer job provides students an opportunity to build their résumé with a “real” experience that may not be possible during school. Encourage your student to consider an experience that relates to their career/major field, as it provides an opportunity to test out the field while benefiting their work experience. If your student will be in Fort Collins over the summer, the Student Job Listing on RAMweb is a great resource for CSU students.

Obtaining an internship is another great way for students to continue advancing their college career in the summer months. While most internships don’t pay, some do. This may be a tradeoff of experiences your student can use in the future, while acting as another outlet to test their interest in their chosen field and gaining important networking contacts along the way. Colorado State University alumni have volunteered to be career mentors to CSU students, and that can be accessed through CareerRAM.

Summer classes are also a great way to get ahead or take something that’s not offered at CSU. Classes over summer break may also provide a chance to make up for a course your student may have struggled with the past year, or an occasion to take something “fun” or outside of your student’s major.

Job shadows and informational interviews can let students gain information about their chosen field, meeting some important contacts too. Workshops and conferences may be a viable opportunity if your student can’t commit to any long-term internships or summer jobs. Check out the Career Center for more opportunities and tips!

Traveling or studying abroad is a great privilege for your student to broaden horizons outside of their college experience at CSU. Opportunities to study abroad may not be possible or offered in the academic year because of specific programs and major requirements. Many programs offer summer study or volunteer abroad experiences. Check out some of those programs at our Office of International Programs.

Researching and learning about job or school-related activities during the summer is another great way for students to advance their college careers. Learning skills like Excel, Publisher, Photoshop, and other software may be beneficial to apply to their major or work field. Encourage your student to update and revise their résumé and cover letter, or participate in mock interviews. Some students also purchase their books for fall and take advantage of the free time to get a head-start on reading!

Finally, provide your student with a chance to reconnect with friends and family. It’s important for your student to get a physical and mental break to prepare for the next semester, but help them be productive by encouraging them to use their time wisely – balance is key! Check out College Parents of America for more helpful hints for your student to utilize their summer break.

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RAMFAM Association 2012-2013 Academic Year in Review

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RAMFAM Association GraphicEach year, we are pleased to bring featured speakers and guests to the RAMFAM Association meetings.  Based on your feedback and ideas, we were able to host five meetings filled to the brim with new information and opportunities to connect.  We’ll offer a quick re-cap of the academic year (with links to the archived videos) and hope you’ll join us either in person or online next year!

September 2011 – Student Development Panel

Based on our Students As Emerging Adults:  A Transitions Guide for Parents & Families publication, this team of respected staff members talked with family members about how students change throughout their collegiate careers and offered resources for students to get connected in productive ways.

October 2011 – The State of CSU

An hour-long Q&A session with three of CSU’s top administrators?  Yes, please!  President Frank, Provost Miranda & Vice President Hughes joined the RAMFAM Association to answer questions on everything from projected tuition increases and academic offerings to career opportunities and how the concealed carry legislation impacts Colorado State.  The good news?  They’ve offered to host this session for future Homecoming & Family Weekend RAMFAM Association meetings, so mark your calendars for Friday, October 5, 2012 for the next chance to interact with CSU administrators!

November 2011 – Career Development During & After College and a FAMweb Demonstration

Time and again we’ve talked with family members about their students’ ability to get a job with benefits after graduating from CSU.  Members of The Career Center and The Alumni Association joined us to discuss resources offered to both students and alumni in the job search arena.  Following this presentation, we gave a step-by-step FAMweb demo to show families the latest technology afforded to students to share pieces of their academic records with trusted individuals. 

February 2012 – Year 2 @ CSU Board and Important Financial Aid Updates

Members of the Year 2 @ CSU Board joined us to discuss the challenges of being a second year student.  Weaving in their individual experiences, they covered many topics, including the transition to living off-campus and the impacts of study abroad and alternative break programs.  In addition to this presentation, Student Financial Services offered a handout on important FAFSA and CSUSA updates.

April 2012 – Reflections on the Year and Tips for a Productive Summer

In our first ever roadshow, Parent and Family Programs hosted the April RAMFAM Association meeting at the CSU Denver Center.  We reflected on the academic year by students’ year in school and asked the seasoned families to offer advice to the first year families.  We also provided a handout on tips for a productive summer.  We didn't record this meeting, so we've included notes for those unable to attend.

Visit the RAMFAM Association website for 2012-2013 dates and check back for meeting topics!

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2012-2013 RAMFAM Association Survey

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Help us improve by taking a few minutes to share your feedback about the RAMFAM Association.  Of course we want your thoughts related to this year’s meeting topics, but we also want your ideas on how we can grow and how you’d like to be involved as a parent or family member.  We’ve included ideas for new topics to cover and events in which to participate, so this survey will guide us in moving forward during the next academic year. 

You can access the RAMFAM Association survey by clicking on this link: http://studentvoice.com/col/2012ramfamassociationassess.  Please note you can also cut and paste the link directly into your web browser if the link doesn't work.  We’d appreciate your feedback by May 31, 2012 if:

  • You attended RAMFAM meetings in person,
  • You participated online (watching the webcast and/or blogging)
  • You watched archived videos on the Parent & Family website,
  • You weren’t able to participate, due to conflicts, or
  • You didn’t participate because the topics weren’t of interest.

Thanks so much for your participation!

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Fostering Success Committee Thanks You

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Thank you, courtesy of Microsoft OfficeYou may remember an article in the October 2011 newsletter calling on families to donate specific goods for care packages for Colorado State students who have aged out of the foster care system.  We asked and you delivered.  

From Siri Newman, Chair of the Fostering Success Committee, "Just a few years ago providing care packages was an elusive dream, something we all wanted to do but was impossible for a variety of reasons.  As of today we can see that dream realized in the 178 care packages that were delivered this academic year alone!  Not only is our shared dream realized in seeing the packages in the outgoing mail but it is realized in the amazing process that has been developed to manage this project."  

You are a huge part of this project's success, so at the end of the academic year, we want to thank you for your generosity. It makes a huge impact on the lives of students.  In their own words:

“When I notice that for once I have something in the mail, instant excitement overcomes me. I love getting a package especially with the most thoughtful objects inside and having roommates with jealousy on their faces!"

"My favorite thing is looking inside and every time having just what I need inside. For example, a couple of weeks ago I was rummaging through my draws to find any socks that didn't have holes, little did I know there was a package of socks!"

"It is the little things that count the most. It is hard to explain how helpful one pad of sticky notes are or a box of pens. School supplies are hard to come across on a small income and those things just make my day.”

"Love my Care Package... the socks were much needed and the blanket was perfect! Thanks so much! ^_^"

"Your gifts have made this year bearable, it gives me so much joy to know someone cares and it reminds me that I am a person worthwhile."

"They have been helpful because we may not have the money to get some of the thing that come in boxes. I like getting them because its about the only thing that I get of the year. They are important because some of the stuff that we get are much needed."

"I really enjoy opening my mail box and seeing that something was sent to me; it's that simple."

"They provide items of great necessity, such as gloves for the winter or a box of tissue for the next sniffle."

"Thanks again for all of the packages, I am truly grateful to receive them:)"

Parents and families wishing to learn more about programs and scholarships for this population can visit the Former Foster Youth website. Thanks for making a difference.

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