How To Use HaveUHeard

You’ve landed on the best help for parents and students who attend one of our featured Florida Universities. We are IRL parents who have been through all the experiences with our IRL kids who are students at these schools.

Our posts are written by parents and students who can give you the best practices, easiest way and great suggestions on how to navigate this new stage in life.

Select your school from the adjacent buttons to the right, or from the Explore U’s navigation dropdown at the top of your browser window. You’ll land on a page that presents our top content categories and tags, for your school, designed to pique your interest and help you with any number of specific issues. Our posts are designed to help both parent and student, alike, enabling and empowering a new-found sense of independence while away at school.

Click away! …and let us know if you have an unanswered question, we’re standing by. (Really we’re here online a lot!)


haveuheard needs ucf dormWhat *NOT* to Bring to a College Dorm Room

If you haven’t started dorm shopping for your incoming freshman yet, we are here to tell you that you probably shouldn’t bother. You see, our daughters have cleaned out just about every store and depleted us of our stack of Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons. Ok, so we are kidding… sort of. With our extensive experience of our kids, nieces, and nephews we have learned that there are a few things you really don’t need to purchase and bring.

Curtains. I know it says that students can bring curtains to cover up their closets because dorm closets have no doors but trust us; the curtains will spend more time on the floor or pushed to the side. And when they crash to the floor in the middle of the night, no one is happy.

Do not buy a printer. There are quite a few places across campus to print wirelessly and it’s by far cheaper than purchasing ink refills.

Most dorm residence halls are now equipped with wireless which allows students to use it for phones, computers but also for gaming and streaming entertainment devices such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Amazon Fire. But leave Alexa or Echo home.

It is tempting to want to simply pack by taking everything out of the drawers and closet, but truth be told, if your student’s wardrobe is as ridiculously large as my daughters are, it just won’t fit.

Finally, we encourage your student to speak with their roommates before arriving at school. My daughter lived in one of the traditional style dorms with a full kitchen. She talked, texted, snapchatted with her new roommates so they did not duplicate the same allowable appliances. One of our daughter’s summer roommates showed up with a 24 piece pot and pan set. Remember freshman that live on campus have a mandatory minimum 14 meal per week meal plan. There is very little cooking going on except for microwave popcorn and reheating pizza. Besides, toaster ovens or table-top grills or any cooking device with exposed heating coils are not permitted in freshman and sophomore housing.


haveuheard budget umIs There a Budget 101 Class?

If there is a budget class, sign them up! I’m going to start with the dreaded comment starting “when I was in college, we didn’t have…” (insert teenager eye-roll here).  All of us at HaveUHeard can say that we did not have computers, iPads, or cell phones to help us bank, and somehow, we managed to survive.

I can vividly remember making the dreaded call home to my father to ask for money. My parents had three daughters at UF at the same time so finances were a sensitive subject. This was before cell phones (think wall corded phones) and, dare I say it, before the internet. Banking required you to wait for the statement to arrive in the mail. Since we only spoke once a week (again, no such thing as texting, emails or cell phones), having to mention needing money was not exactly a wanted subject. During college breaks, he would sit me down to discuss why I bounced a check, and why I could not live on a budget and other financial issues.

Budget 101. As parents, we needed to have a better handle on how much we would be doling out, how often and the parameters for spending our money. Did we expect her to have a job while at school and, if she did, would she be able to prioritize and keep her grades at the top of the time management challenge? We needed a solid plan and we all had to develop an economic skill set with guidelines and rules….quickly. I kept reminding myself that college is not only about the academics, but also about the learning how to navigate the real world.

When my older daughter went to school, she would text or email when she needed more money (less confrontational than over the phone). She also had a credit card for emergencies only (and we defined what constituted an emergency – car breaking down, health issues, true emergencies- not a sale at a store or buying alcohol). I first realized that we needed a plan when our daughter announced, during our fifteen minutes together during orientation, that she was excited to learn that there are places near campus that provide student discounts on manicures. What I can tell you is that I will not pay for alcohol. I am not sticking my head in the sand and pretending kids won’t go out and drink, but I don’t have to pay for it either. They can use their summer earnings for that stuff.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread is a complete and ideal meal and cost efficient! Even though jelly has sugar, the combination of peanut butter and bread provides protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Honestly, it is a perfect, little meal. Possibly the best part is that it costs less than fifty cents per sandwich.  There should be no guilt involved in reminding your students that if money is tight they can resort to P, B & J.

Please note: if your child is in a sorority or fraternity, they will be asking you for more money.  Most things are covered in their dues, but it seemed like my daughter always needed money for something additional (big/little gifts, more t-shirts, unofficial sister get-togethers, etc.)  So, get ready!


haveuheard sunglasses familyParent & Family Weekends

Every school has some version of Family Weekend.  This is a great time to see your student in their “natural habitat” on campus.  You will see them in their new independent role and have the chance to meet some of their friends.  There is some debate on whether Family Weekend is worth the travel and expenses vs. coming on another, less-crowded weekend.  We’ve done both.

Our first experience with Family Weekend we booked a hotel a year in advance, booking every weekend in that specified month while we waited for the big announcement as to the actual dates. Then, go back and cancel all the unneeded weekends. Hotels have caught on and began requiring deposits and changing cancellation policies. (Check when booking.)

Perhaps this hasn’t given you a positive outlook as to what to expect for Parent’s Weekend. It is my goal to prepare, as well as caution. Don’t shoot the messenger, but restaurants are crazy crowded all weekend long. I have heard that the further from campus one goes, the better luck they have had in this regard. Of course, that also means daring to get into your car and navigate through the traffic and find parking again later. Try to eat at off times. We have even picked up subs and brought them back to our hotel.

If your students joined a sorority or fraternity, you may want to check to see if they have picked this same weekend. When my daughter pledged, we had already booked homecoming weekend. Her sorority family weekend was two weeks prior so we ended up going up to both events. And while I love seeing my daughter, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have gone to both events especially twice in one month.

Speaking of expenses, some parents choose not to attend Family Weekend and simply come on a non-football weekend. Once, we flew our son home for the weekend instead. Although flights are costly, it was much cheaper than driving up, paying for gas, tolls, meals, and a hotel. Of course, there isn’t as much going on and the football is a good part of the fun, but the cost of the weekend can get exorbitant.

Each school posts the schedule of events for the family weekend, check the dates and arrange your schedule accordingly.


haveuheard tutor um tutoringTutoring is Beneficial

This is not high school where a student can often coast by; succeeding at University level requires taking classes seriously. At the same time, there are many other opportunities to get involved and enjoy these four years including football games, Greek life, and outdoor activities. A student needs to be able to balance all of this which can prove daunting to many. But since they have such a selective admissions process, the understanding is that many of these students have already been faced with balancing academics and social and civic activities.

If your student mentions they are having difficulty, there are many places to turn including speaking with their professor or teacher assistant. There are also peer academic study groups. For many classes, students are turning to outside assistance.

Students also speak highly of the Knack App, a peer-to-peer tutoring approach that allows students to find peers through the app that have done well in particular courses and schedule on their time. They offer package pricing and they do offer discounts for higher hour packages including a semester pack and a yearly pack.

Textbook rental and purchase company Chegg offers Chegg Study for $14.95. Students have found success working with their specialists. They offer study help in business (finance, economics, accounting, operations management), Engineering (computer science, electrical, mechanical and civil engineering), Math (algebra, calculus, stats and probability, and other math) and science (physics, chemistry, biology). For more personal help, they also have Chegg Tutor which gives more one-on-one help.

All schools have some kind of Academic Success Center that offers to tutor on many subjects. They also offer study skills classes and standardized test prep. Stay ahead of the game and don’t fall behind. Getting help is not unusual, it means you take this college thing seriously. Tutoring is beneficial!


haveuheard scholarship scholarships usfScholarships: Our Suggestions

Almost as soon as the first acceptance to college came in, so did the idea of actually having to pay for their tuition and room and board. When they were small it was something we always envisioned we would do and planned accordingly. With so many scholarships available today, the trick is finding the ones that suit your student’s needs and that they will qualify for. Some scholarships are quite competitive, some last for four years, and some are downright silly, but pay for something. All make those bills for the next four (or more) years more bearable.

Every year, I hear stories about thousands of dollars in scholarship money that are never applied for.  It does take a lot of work and time to research scholarships, apply for them, and to validate the authenticity of them.

But, that work can pay off with a reduced cost to you. Some scholarships require essays and believe it or not, those are the ones most avoided; therefore, have the least amount of people applying. Don’t steer away from these; seek help with the essay instead. It is also recommended to apply for any scholarships as early as possible and be sure to have your FAFSA form completed beforehand.

Consider creating a separate email address just for applications. Some scholarship websites sell your email information to third party companies and you will find that your inbox will be flooded with emails. Read their privacy doc to find out if they share your information with third-party companies. This will allow you to keep your personal email address and your .edu email address private. If your student is lucky enough to land a scholarship (or a few) it is highly recommended that they write a thank you note to the donor.

Our school blogs offer more specific information on each school, all our blogs are written by parents or students with real-time experience.


haveuheard sick at school umNo One Likes to Get Sick

It’s bound to happen.  At some point, while our kids are at college, the phone will ring and suddenly our mature, independent college student will sound like a preschooler again. There is little worse than when they tell you how sick they feel and you are far away. Hopefully, and most likely, their illness will be a result of their new-found independence that includes lack of sleep and exercise, stress, not-so-healthy food, hygiene habits that don’t embrace enough hand-washing, and can be cured quickly and easily.

I sent my daughter to college with a “things you may need that Mom thought of just in case” box, in case you get sick. Inside I had a thermometer, vitamins, the medicines for a cold, sinus infection, stomach ache and other common ailments. If the health center on campus is inconvenient due the hours or long wait times, there are alternatives. We recommend off-campus walk-in clinics and emergency services.

There is nothing worse than calling to find out how your sick or injured student is and being told the doctor is not authorized to talk with you. We have the consent forms you need for treatment of a minor.

If your student is older than 18 (and most college students are) expect that medical records will be kept confidential and released to you only with your students’ written consent or in response to court-ordered subpoenas. It is important to discuss these issues with your student prior to beginning college away from home.

Be sure your student has a copy of their insurance card. And finally, you may want to remind your students to notify their professor if they will be legitimately missing classes and unable to get work done on time, including a doctor’s note is encouraged. Stay healthy!

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