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Advice, This Will Help…
Sometimes, just having a little advice can be very reassuring. We’ve trained for this moment for about eighteen years and somehow when it gets here, we often feel blindsided. Perhaps, if someone would have told me, well, this…
You probably won’t talk every day. Generally, we have found you’re more apt to hear from daughters a bit more than sons. The best time to talk is often on their walk to or from classes. If that call is important to you, you may want to consider how their class schedule works on your own. However; do not sit by the phone. You should have a life too and they need to know that. You’re still a role model. Remember, you are a parent first, but you are also so much more. This is a great time to join that theater group/bowling team/take painting lessons. Understand that this is as much of an adjustment for you as it is for your child. How could it not be when they’ve been around for 18 years? But it is their time to be on their own and start their journey to becoming independent, self-sufficient young adults. – Debbie F.
This easily leads me to the part about being their coach, not their assistant. While it is great to alert them to various things that you suspect will benefit them in a way they have yet to discover; once you have made that suggestion, let it go. Ok, fine, suggest it twice, but don’t push beyond that. They have to learn to figure things out for themselves. You know the old give them a fish and they eat for a day; teach them to fish and they eat for life, story? It couldn’t be truer. – Susanne H.
So, for example: “I read on HaveUHeard that there are actually 764 clubs on your campus. Have you thought about checking out the sculpture club/choir?” or “Chicken soup always feels good when you have a cold. Send an email to the Hillel on campus and they will bring you some.” “There are supposed to be puppies/yoga/an outdoor movie during midterms week to make your study breaks even better. You love puppies/yoga/movies!” “I read that there are quite a few options for tutoring. Have you considered that? What about study groups?”
Don’t expect they will have the same grades they had in high school. Some will do very well but others will find that there is a big learning curve when it comes to taking college classes. And, certain classes are what they call “weed out” classes; they are designed to have students rethink their major or career path because it carries a heavy course load filled with high stress and a fast pace. Sometimes this opens the door to better-suited majors or career paths for them. This leads us to the next advice we wish we knew. They may change their major several times. Students often do change majors. Actually, encouraging them to try out as many new things right from the start is a great way to discover what they love as well as what they originally thought was the way to go is not. College is all about discovery. Prepare for that call and remain calm. Better they figure it out now. – Janice W.
Prepare for this…
Prepare too for the independence that comes with college. Although they will make mistakes along the way because we ALL make mistakes along the way; take a breath before you judge. Usually, it is those blunders that teach them to do better next time. Expect change, realize it comes with the territory, and it is that very change that means they are growing and learning through their independence, which is exactly what college is about. Sometimes they will want your opinion, but sometimes they just need you to listen. That might be when you clear the calendar right before their biology lab. This advice is good but not easy to do.
The money part is definitely one of the more difficult decisions. A great way to start is to join an online group for parents of students at the same college. Find out what they give their kids, what it is meant to pay for, and how they dole it out? Average that and stick to your guns. It is fine for them to eat peanut butter five days in a row if it teaches them how to stick to a budget in the long run. I assure you; it pays off in the end.
Plan visits, even if they don’t revolve around Parent’s Weekend. Prices usually skyrocket on Parent’s Weekend and Homecoming and sometimes you can’t even enjoy the local stuff because of the crowds. There is probably far more to do near their college than you know and it is fun to see them in their new setting and explore their new world together. If you don’t plan ahead, your trip could amount to shopping and eating out. While these things aren’t bad options, there are more. Send care packages. They love them, when they’re not feeling well, studying, homesick, and celebrating and it will make you feel connected from far away. Speaking of being connected, use FaceTime. Our favorite family dinners are the ones where our college daughter’s face lights up the iPad we place in her usual seat.
Planning for my daughter’s departure to college was always present in the back of mind, as was the notion when they were babies that we must not blink for fear of missing their first steps, or better said enjoy every step of the journey. With that being said, dropping them off for freshman year was one of the proudest moments of my life yet I cried the entire trip home. Find solace in the fact that they have moved on to the next big adventure in life that will be filled with amazing new experiences. – Chris S.
I often joke that you will need big sunglasses to cover your tear-filled eyes as you say your final goodbyes. I didn’t have mine the first time but did for child two. Child three actually told me that the glasses don’t do a thing to hide what really doesn’t need disguising. Face it, saying see-ya-later is going to be difficult, but for all the right reasons. Remember that and remember too that your student is also teeming with emotions so as much as they may want you to stay or go, your best bet is moving their stuff in, helping to make their bed, getting that last hug, and go. Think of it like ripping off a band-aid. There is so much for them to discover…without you holding their hand. Let the independence begin; both theirs and yours. – Susanne H.
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There is No Simple Answer for Fall
by Priscilla Beth Baker
Fall is on everyone’s mind. What are we going to do, Priscilla Beth Baker has some thoughts:
This is such an incredibly complex question with no simple answer. We’ve all had so much to face and process these past few months with the effects of COVID-19. I think we parents all quietly hoped, despite all evidence to the contrary, that we would not even be in the position of having to make this kind of choice. But here we are – preparing for fall semesters all across the globe, wondering, often justifiably panicking, at what lies before us. What should you and your child be considering when debating whether or not to return to school this fall? For the purposes of helping to weigh your options, I am excluding the argument of the obvious health risks since we are well aware of those; this is purely meant to highlight the educational and experiential factors.
Despite all of our best efforts to prepare for high quality in-person, hybrid, and online modes of instruction this fall, we may end up being fully online regardless. I might go so far as to say that we may also end up either not coming back in the spring or going completely online then as well. You need to consider this as a real possibility when weighing your options. These past months were incredibly chaotic and stressful. Most of us – teaching faculty, advisors, and students alike – just got through it in many respects. Keep in mind, though, that faculty who were not previously comfortable with online teaching have had that much more time to get used to it and prepare. I do genuinely believe that this fall’s overall instruction will be superior to whatever your child might have experienced in the spring now that we have all had to accept this as our new normal and embrace innovative technologies and teaching practices not previously in our realm of expertise.
What kind of learner is your child?
This is another important factor. I will say that I was suitably amazed at some of my students who struggled significantly before COVID yet seemed to thrive in the transition to the online format. Their professors reported that they were far more engaged both in class and office hours than they previously had been. It took me a while to process why that was and it was simply this – those students were not adept at multitasking. They were overwhelmed in the regular college environment with the demanding combination of pressures related to classes, apartment and dorm living, activities, and job fairs. When left to focus on just their academics, those students rose to the occasion in a way that their multi-tasking counterparts often did not. Many of my higher-achieving students struggled significantly with the lack of in-person instruction and the group camaraderie of classwork. When all their activities were canceled, they found themselves to be far less productive overall and struggled with time management in a way they never had before. The majority fell somewhere in between.
The bigger question for many of you is related to the finances of it all and how you want your college dollars spent. Do you want just the education itself or the experience that college offers? If the former is the goal, returning to school despite all the changes is probably the better idea. If the latter, you may want to give it more thought. Postponing going back could be heavily considered depending upon two other key factors:
Where your child is within their program
If your child is about to start freshmen or sophomore years and has not fully established themselves on campus or socially, taking time off to work or doing online classes at the community college might be worth considering. If they are seniors, they will understandably want to graduate with their cohort regardless of the circumstances. Juniors are trickier since their classes are more specialized and not likely offered at community colleges, so that might not be a money-saving option anyway.
If your child has work experience in their intended fields
If they’ve had no applicable work experience, it might still be worth sitting the semester or year out. Recruiters for engineering and business majors, among many others, essentially require internships in order to hire you and want that reference to verify the imperative soft skills not revealed on a transcript such as communication, professionalism, and teamwork. With COVID, it might be hard to secure an applicable position, but if it’s an option, it’s definitely worth considering.
Priscilla Beth Baker – Priscilla Beth Baker currently works as an academic advisor at a large university and has two college-aged sons of her own. She is also a former high school English teacher and educational writer for Prestwick House Publishing.
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What They Want Every Freshman To Know
You only get to be a freshman in college once, so before you go, our interns want to share some advice. While none of them know what it is like to start college during a pandemic and that will create a unique set of circumstances, you will still have some great experiences.
The beginning of your first year in college is overwhelming, stressful, but most importantly exciting. Looking back, you want to have the best memories and have made the year something you will keep with you for the rest of your life. Moving to an unfamiliar place where you don’t know the area or a lot of people can be intimidating and challenging. But even during these unique times, you will be able to make new friends, take interesting classes, take advantage of campus resources – everyone from school administrators to professors to your friends and family wants to see you succeed.
Some of their advice stems from mistakes made, which is perfectly normal and expected. Some are regrets that they wish they could do-over. And sure, we all want to carve out our own journeys and paths, but perhaps some of their suggestions will make you feel that you are not alone.
Click on your school for more info:
But, if we, your parents, could impart one piece of advice is that you should call or text your parents. I personally did not expect a call every day but the daily texts just to say that they were okay, went a very long way. And, in keeping the advice equal, we turned to our mom bloggers, all of whom have different parent approaches, and asked them what is the advice you would give your parent of a college student self.
- Allow my child to figure things out on their own. They will come to you if they need to.
- Understand that this is as much of an adjustment for me as it is for my child.
- Try new things – cooking classes, volunteer, read, or something that has been challenging to take the time to do.
Bring big sunglasses so no matter how hard you’re crying; you can put them on and keep walking. Remember, you have trained for eighteen years for this moment of independence and as hard as it is, make a smooth transition by not lingering. Get them situated, even make their bed one last time, but then it’s time to go home. Let them be the guide now as far as telephone calls, texts, and general communication. I always sent a good morning and I love you text and we did speak often (usually my D would call on way to class) but be prepared that the number of times you speak will change.
Sign up for all the email lists offered. (That’s how I found HUH, thank heavens!) Join the appropriate Facebook pages for parents and families (area of study, classes,etc.) especially those run by a UF-employed administrator. Connect with campus organizations on Instagram. Create a conduit of information that you can share with your student as non-intrusively as possible — via text, email, even forwarded on social media platforms. There were times that I’m sure they will tell you it is overkill, but there were times that my being able to mention an important deadline or opportunity saved their butt, gave them an edge, or just plain made their life easier. And the benefit was two-fold: we both had ongoing access to information that was helpful and often necessary, and I was able to stay in-the-know about the big picture of life without being over-present in her daily life.
Really try to push your kids to try everything they can first semester, so they can figure out what they may or may not like. A lot of times my daughter would give me an excuse and I would just say ok. Mid-semester I found out about a club I knew she would like. She said she wasn’t interested, but I pushed her and kept bugging her about it. When she finally went, it became one of her favorite things and she even became treasurer of the club. Sometimes they try to blow you off, but keep encouraging them if you know it will be worth it.
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No Matter How Much Uncertainty Surrounds College This Fall
Written by Dr. Christina Z. Atti, PsyD—Licensed Clinical Psychologist
We are all questioning the uncertainty of what the future holds during these unprecedented times, Dr. Christina Atti has some good advice for us.
The current pandemic has proven to be psychologically draining for college students, and recent graduates, who are worried about their futures. So many questions go unanswered like “When will I be able to return to school? WILL I be able to go back? Can I see my friends? Should I look for a job?”.
A lot is out of our control and many facets of our lives are being impacted including school, work, finances, socializing, and travel. Waiting in limbo can create a lot of stress, anxiety, fear, and depression, and that may leave some in unchartered territories on how to cope. Be gentle with yourself, but also acknowledge that you are already navigating this; you are building resiliency and you did not even realize it!
Thinking about the future does not create anxiety; thinking about how to CONTROL the future does. Instead, focus on identifying: (1) what do I have control over and (2) what can I change. Control your controllables. For example, wake up and/or go to bed at the same time; do some form of exercise each day; limit the amount of time watching tv or being on social media; call or facetime 1-2 friends each day.
Accept your situation. There is a term called “radical acceptance” which basically means, I do not have to like this or agree with this, but I do have to accept that it is happening. This can include accepting having to stay away from family and friends, being stressed or anxious, or not being able to travel. Ground yourself by acknowledging that this is NOT just happening to you; the universality of what is happening around us can be comforting for many (i.e., we are all in this together).
Normalize your reality, including your emotions, and remind yourself it is perfectly normal to be feeling however you are feeling right now. Having a hard time feeling less stressed, anxious, or sad? Check your thought process; we cannot believe everything that we think. When left unchecked, our thoughts might get the better of us and amplify negative emotions. For example, we might catastrophize or over-generalize our current situation by thinking things like “this is never going to end”, “I’m going to be alone forever”, or “I’m always going to feel this way”. By sitting in thoughts like these, we are distorting our reality by making things up.
Instead of just marinating in faulty, negative thinking, try reframing such thoughts. “While I may be currently dealing with isolation or feelings of loneliness, I have no evidence that this will never end”. “I might be alone right now, as I do my part in staying home to stop the spread, but other parts of the country and world are starting to re-integrate as the rate of infection decreases; this will likely be true for where I live also”. “I’m feeling sad right now, but I’ve been through tough things in the past and have been able to feel happy again”. Finding ways to reframe our thoughts are super important. Again remember, we cannot believe everything we think.
Ok to not be OK
Self-awareness is a beautiful thing and it is OK to not be OK. If zoning-out and binge-watching your favorite Netflix show is a welcome distraction, then go for it. Find comfort in getting out a coloring book and coloring like a 4-year-old? Then do it! Exercise, read a book, listen to music, journal, bake, go for a walk, learn a new skill; distraction is key right now. However, if you find that you are struggling to cope with current events, reach out to a mental health professional who can help support you in finding ways to do so. You can find a local provider in your area by asking friends or family for a recommendation, and you can also do a simple Google search; your student counseling center might also be a great resource as well. Warmlines were created to give people support when they just need to talk to someone. These warmlines are run by people who understand what it is like to struggle with mental health issues and focus on early intervention with the emotional support that can help prevent a crisis; find a warmline in your area at warmline.org If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text MHA to 7417-741. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health so make it a priority; you are worth it.
Dr. Christina Atti is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and has a private practice in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. She works closely with college students and enjoys helping them find their unique way, in this complex world. You can contact her: DrAtti.com DrChristinaAtti@gmail.com 954-320-0173. Pass on these great tips, tell your friends and like us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Find out more about how to use HaveUHeard as a great resource. Sign up for other great tips at haveuheard.com.
The Rising Cost of College Books
As if college tuition isn’t expensive enough, students still need to pay for books and supplies. Those costs are included in the Cost of Attendance (COA). The COA at your student’s school can easily be found (but we are giving it to you here).
Books average around $1000 annually (These figures are averages and will vary from student to student and university to university.They are indirect costs not billed by the university). Now that students are getting ready to return to school, the reality begins. The whole reason they are at college is to learn and take classes, meaning they will need to have the necessary tools to do so, including books. Textbooks can be very expensive, so it is important to make informed decisions when picking out books to buy or rent.
HaveUHeard that Florida law now requires instructors to post course textbook information prior to the start of each term, giving students the time needed to locate and purchase their books at the lowest price?
HaveUHeard that some colleges do offer free textbooks? The Open-Source textbook movement has become more crucial than ever before. Many universities are members of the Open Textbook Network (OTN), an alliance of higher education institutions working to improve access, affordability, and academic success using open textbooks. Hundreds of open textbooks are available through the network’s online library that can be downloaded for no cost or printed at a low cost.
There are many Open Educational Resource initiatives that are working on making college textbooks more affordable. Open textbooks are just one example of an OER. OER’s also include study guides, practice tests, problem sets, exams, videos, and other classroom tools. They include:
The Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)’s “…mission is to ensure that every student has access to the high-quality learning materials they need – at little-to-no-cost.” Fortunately, Congress is listening as are the universities.
In the Legislature:
- In 2008, Congress passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which banned some of the publisher’s worst practices to rip students off.
- In 2011 and 2012, respectively, Washington and California enacted laws to create a statewide open textbook and educational resource programs.
- In 2013, Senators Durbin and Franken, with Congressmen Miller and Hinojosa, introduced companion bills to create a federal open textbook grant program.
- In 2018, Congress includes $5 million in the federal budget for online education resources.
- More than 3,000 professors have signed a statement in support of open textbook adoption.
- Dozens of universities like the University of Maryland (College Park) have launched their own campus programs to encourage open textbook use.
- The Student PIRGs have published 15+ research reports documenting the problems and harms with traditional textbooks and why open textbooks are the solution.
- In Florida, a statewide initiative exists which is a statewide repository based on common course codes that all faculty in the Florida state university system have access to low-cost course materials.
Almost all colleges now have some type of program to alleviate the debt and expense burden on students. You can learn more about each specific university below:
There are various other ways to purchase books and many different forms to choose from. From going to the bookstore on campus or purchasing books second-hand online, there are different cost-efficient ways to get all of your students’ required materials. Considering that textbooks can cost as much as a few hundred dollars each, it is smart to check out all of your purchasing options for each book.
- Comparison shop – Students today have more choices than ever to get the textbook they need. They should shop around if they are not purchasing from students at their school or at their college bookstore (college bookstores will typically price match so having competitive prices will help them out)
- Rent textbook and course materials- there are many online platforms that offer this service.
- Consider purchasing used books either from other students or from online websites. They will need to make certain that the used book has the same material they need for class.
- Consider using a digital version.
Check with your college about programs for students who cannot afford textbooks. Pass on these great tips, tell your friends and like us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Find out more about how to use HaveUHeard as a great resource. Sign up for other great tips at haveuheard.com.
Know These Mental Health Warning Signs
by Dr. Christina Z. Atti, PsyD—Licensed Clinical Psychologist
College students are gearing up for yet another school year but now with a whole lot more uncertainty than students past. Terms with the words “crisis” and “epidemic” are being used by top experts to describe the mental health challenges American college students are facing. A 2018 and 2019 student survey conducted by the American College Health Association (ACHA) indicated that approximately 60% of students felt “overwhelming” anxiety, and 40% felt severe depressive symptoms that interfered with daily functioning.
Mood disturbances are just some of the mental health problems that are affecting college students. Other issues such as eating disorders, substance abuse, and suicide are also prevalent. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among college students. NIMH also reports that up to 25% of all college students struggle with an eating disorder, and eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness. The National Library of Medicine’s (NIM) National Institutes of Health reports 37% of college students have used an illicit drug (e.g., benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, opioids, stimulants) and abused alcohol on a regular basis.
The information and statistics above are startling, to say the least, and highlights how we MUST make mental health a priority above all else. The following contains information to help students identify potential mental health issues and some resources to locate valuable resources. Download PDF of the Resources from Dr. Chrstina.
Anxiety is something most people experience from time to time. Anxiety may often be mistaken for simple everyday stress or minimized by chalking it up to ‘worrying too much’. When anxiety starts to interfere with daily life, this is when it crosses the line from stress to anxiety. Some warning signs of anxiety are:
- Persistent and chronic stress
- Trouble concentrating and/or mind goes blank
- Panic attacks
- Dizziness and/or sweating
- Shortness of breath (trouble catching breath or shallow breathing)
- Muscle pain and/or tension
- GI issues (upset stomach, diarrhea)
- Restlessness and/or fidgety (appear wound up)
- Racing thoughts and/or obsessiveness (unable to shut the mind off)
- Sleep issues (unable to fall asleep and/or stay asleep)
- Withdrawing from friends, family or peers
Short-lived and infrequent periods of anxious feelings or behavior do not automatically indicate clinical anxiety. However, if anxiety seems to last longer than usual, or if symptoms start to manifest in obsessive behavior or an overwhelming sense of fear, then it’s time to seek help. Download PDF of the Resources
Depression is classified as a mood disorder that involves persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable. People experiencing depression may experience mood swings, sleep problems, changes in appetite, and physical ailments that have no apparent cause. Depression looks different in everybody and typically has symptoms that affect three areas: physical, emotional, and thinking. Some warning signs are:
- Constant feelings of sadness (depressed most of the day, nearly every day)
- Lack of pleasure and/or interest in activities that were once enjoyed
- Changes in sleep (sleeping less or more than usual)
- Changes in appetite (eating more or less than usual, weight loss or gain)
- Fatigue and/or loss of energy
- Isolating from friends and/or family
- Feeling hopeless (“things are never going to change or get better”)
- Feeling powerless (“there’s nothing I can do”)
- Inability to think or concentrate and/or indecisive (can’t read or complete tasks)
- Feeling worthless (“I’m no good”)
- Inappropriate feelings of guilt
- Thoughts of death and dying (without a specific plan)
- Attempts of suicide and/or a specific plan for committing suicide
Exhibiting some of the above symptoms does not mean that you are depressed. However, if these symptoms are present with some regularity, you should seek some assistance and support in order to err on the side of caution. If you think you or someone you care about may be suffering from depression, seeking the help of a mental health professional is the best thing you can do. Download PDF of the Resources
Eating Disorders include a variety of conditions that are marked by irregularities in eating habits in addition to being preoccupied with one’s body image or shape. Some types of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder. As a whole, these disorders involve food deprivation, bingeing on food, purging after a binge, the use of diuretics, and/or over-exercising. There are some typical warning signs of eating disorders and they are as follows:
Anorexia Nervosa: involves an unhealthy fixation on thinness, where one severely restricts their intake of food oftentimes resulting in being severely underweight which then can result in extremely severe medical complications.
- Fear of weight gain (even when severely underweight)
- Restricting calories (oftentimes skipping meals or avoiding eating in front of others)
- Lower body weight than what is considered “healthy”
- Unable to see one’s body or shape in rational terms
- Extreme weight loss
- Dizziness and/or fainting
- Dry or yellowish skin (jaundice)
- Appearance of fine hair across the body (called Lanugo)
- Changes in hair (becomes brittle or thin) or hair loss
- Constantly feeling cold
- Refusal to eat certain foods (carbs, fats, sugars)
- Taking diet pills or medication that suppresses hunger (Ex: Ritalin or Adderall)
- Frequent negative comments about appearance and/or body
- Excessive exercise (even when injured or sick)
- Withdrawing from social activities or friendships
- Developing food rituals (eating foods in certain orders, not having food touch each other, chewing food a certain number of times)
Bulimia Nervosa: involves frequent and recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by compensatory behaviors such as purging, fasting, or over-exercising.
- Distorted and/or poor body image
- Broken blood vessels in the eyes (from vomiting)
- Calluses or aggravated skin on the knuckles or fingers (from inducing vomiting)
- Continual fluctuation in weight
- Enflamed esophagus
- Constant use of bathroom after meals
- Teeth that are noticeably stained
- Using mints or perfume after the use of the bathroom (to hide the smell of vomit)
- The disappearance of abnormally large amounts of food
- Eating when others aren’t round
- Hoarding and/or stealing food
- An aversion to spontaneous meals or snacks
Binge Eating Disorder: characterized by constant cravings of food that occur any time during the day and result in binge eating.
- Ingesting food rapidly
- Continuing to eat even when full
- Lacking control over what and how much is eaten
- Eating in secret or at unusual times (ex: hiding food in the closet to eat in the middle of the night)
- Eating alone out of feelings of embarrassment
- Weight fluctuations
- Feelings of stress or anxiety that are only alleviated by binge eating
- Cyclical feelings of guilt
- Withdrawing from friends or family
- Never feeling satiated or satisfied, despite how much is eaten
Eating disorders are complicated. If you suspect that you or someone you care about is struggling there are a myriad of resources and health professionals available. Download PDF of the Resources
College is often a time of experimentation of alcohol and recreational drugs for many young adults, and this can lead them to engage in risky behavior. Binge drinking, prescription drug abuse, and recreational drug use are all common problems on college campuses. Addiction describes a pattern of physical and/or psychological dependence on one or more substances, including strong cravings and indulgence in substance abuse despite known risks and harms. Although not every student who participles in alcohol and/or drug use will develop an addiction, some will and the effects of withdrawal or prolonged use can be dangerous, if not deadly. Different types of substances will produce different types of effects however, some general warning signs of a problem are as follows:
- Built tolerance of alcohol and/or drug use (needing more of the substance to get the same effects)
- Being physically ill or “off” when not using the substance (ex: nauseous, shaking, difficulty breathing, sweating, pale)
- Worsening physical appearance (ex: unkept, bad hygiene)
- Weight loss or gain
- Changes in personality (ex: fearful, anxious, aggressive or paranoid for no apparent reason)
- Slurring of speech, bloodshot eyes, and/or impaired coordination
- A sudden need for money and/or having a financial crisis
- Increase in troubling behaviors (ex: getting into fights, being arrested)
- Sudden change in friends, activities and/or hobbies
- Withdrawing from friends, school, work and/or family
- Using a substance to relieve stress, “feel better”, or avoid/suppress dealing with an issue
It can be complicated to establish when someone is actually dealing with an addiction problem; denial is often a very difficult barrier. If you are a college student who is struggling or knows someone who is struggling with binge drinking, prescription drug use, or the use of illicit drugs, you don’t have to face this alone. Download PDF of the Resources
Suicidal ideation, or suicidal thoughts, is thinking about, considering, or planning suicide. The range of suicidal ideation varies from fleeting thoughts to extensive thoughts, to detailed planning of ending one’s life. Remember, if you suspect on any level that someone might be in danger, immediately call 911. It is not uncommon for students to feel frustration and doubt, but sometimes those emotions can begin to spiral, bringing students to a place where they are seriously considering ending their lives. Just like anything else, signs of suicidal ideation may look different from person to person but the following are indicators that a person may be in immediate danger and may need help:
- Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
- Looking for a way to kill oneself (ex: buying a gun, hoarding a large number of pills)
- Expressing feeling hopeless or not having a purpose in life (“what’s the point?”)
- Sharing about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain (“I can’t handle this”)
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing alcohol and/or drug use
- Engaging in reckless behavior (ex: driving too quickly, spending a lot of money)
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing and/or isolating from family, friends, peers, or co-workers
- Losing interest in activities they enjoyed before
- Displaying mood swings (such as from rage to depression)
- Appearing anxious or agitated
- Giving away possessions they once cherished
- Inexplicably visiting people to tell them goodbye
If you see any of the above behaviors in yourself, contact 911, take yourself to the hospital, and/or contact your campus counseling center immediately. If you are concerned that a roommate, friend, or peer is suicidal, it is important to talk to them immediately about your concerns. Ask them directly, “Are you considering killing yourself?”; studies show that asking this question does NOT increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts and can be the foundation for taking the next steps to get a person some help.
Download PDF of the Resources from Dr. Christina Atti.
Dr. Christina Atti is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and has a private practice in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. She works closely with college students and enjoys helping them find their unique way, in this complex world. You can contact her: DrAtti.com DrChristinaAtti@gmail.com 954-320-0173.
Where are the Safe Places to Go
Safe, sane, and happy? As colleges devise plans to reopen in the fall, they are also coming up with ways to keep our students safe, sane, and healthy. However, no matter what rules they come up with and how many masks they distribute; students have to adhere to them if they are going to be effective. Sadly, as soon as the bars opened in one college town; they were packed with mask-free college students desperate for some long-awaited fun, and within a week, students started to test positive for Covid19.
We are not judging, by any means; we too are a bit anxious to see friends and get out of the house. We also understand that college is not solely about getting a degree. Perhaps there are some other options to overcrowded bars and frat parties that will offer college students some safer alternatives for entertainment. We realize a hike through a park isn’t exactly a fair comparison to, let’s say, a good pre-game, but what if that pre-game is outside? Better? Perhaps a bit.
Recently a friend posted photos of a party they allowed their teenagers to have in their backyard. Each guest was required to wear…no, not a mask, because they haven’t yet figured out how to get a drink-through them yet, but instead they all wore these silly-looking contraptions around their waists made from pool noodles that poked out far enough that they were constantly reminded if they got closer than about 6 feet. I imagine there were a lot of laughs based on how funny the pictures looked, but I suppose when we get desperate for fun, we are willing to wear just about anything.
What is the Safest Way?
So, should we all start constructing pool-noodle-waist-bands for our returning college students? The truth is, they are only, like a mask, effective if they wear them. Certainly, we can encourage safety procedures and send gallons of anti-bacterial and Clorox wipes too. The colleges are trying their best to come up with the safest strategies; however, it’s not enough to limit protective guidelines to classrooms and residence halls and they don’t have control in private apartments or off-campus hangouts.
Given that being outside is all of our best bet at this point, we have come up with a list of places near each campus that students can go to look for a little diversion from studying. Of course, this doesn’t mean they should head out in droves, but we also know that we can put the ideas out there; they are adults now and will make their own choices. Check out your school’s blog on Where’s Safe.
Of course, if you notice that your student is experiencing any type of stress or anxiety from the new rules on campus, there are resources available. Learn more in our blog The Stress Happens to All.
How to Have Your Vote Count While at College
Students in a new city adapting to a busy college schedule, the voting process can seem daunting. As an 18-year-old freshman, most don’t even know where or how to register or where to go to vote! With an election coming up, taking the time to go to the polls and vote is more important than ever. So, how can you do it? Each college has places to go for all things voting-related. They offer a variety of information from registering to vote to where to vote on election day, including information for students who are residents of Florida, as well as those from out of state.
For those that are registered to vote already, they probably want to get an absentee ballot and vote by mail. If they would like to change their address and register as a voter at their school address, there is information on that too. Since college kids move so often, many choose to keep their permanent address on their voter registration and get an absentee ballot or vote by mail. There are deadlines for these options. College students should consider if the local issues in their registered counties are important to them. We think every vote counts!!
Early voting is also an option for college students. Many counties open up early voting locations so if your student will be home during this period of time, they can cast their vote there. Most colleges also have polling options on campus. Students need to know what they need to bring with them to vote; we share all that information based on each individual school too. Every college makes it very easy for students to cast their votes even if your student is studying abroad.
Perhaps your student is interested in taking their political affiliation a step further. They may want to consider one of the many clubs and associations that each college has to offer for those passionate in political affairs. There are many.
Click on your university for more specific information.
We Now Have 10 Schools
HaveUHeard we have a perfect 10! We’ve gone OOS adding the University of Georgia, Indiana University-Bloomington, and the University of Maryland. That’s in addition to the seven Florida colleges we include.
We know that college is complicated and getting all of the answers can be daunting, frustrating, and stressful. Some of us rely on our students sharing information with us, some will spend time searching the college website or the parent pages and some will even call the school. We get it because we are also parents of college students who had so many of what we have come to refer to as “huh?” moments.
Recognizing how stressful the college process is, from orientation through graduation, we created HaveUHeard to provide the inside scoop from CURRENT students and parents; a been there, done that approach from trusted sources… A place to get information right at your fingertips instead of having to go searching on many other websites.
HaveUHeard does an extensive amount of research in answering every question. But, we go the extra mile, bringing our own personal experience and provide practical real-life advice. While other parenting advice sources might provide good advice, we try to layer in practical advice for real-life that takes into account the significant shortage of free time that new college parents have in their lives. We also have outside bloggers including an academic advisor from a major U.S. university and a psychologist that specializes in working with college students.
Have a question or a topic we have not addressed yet? Let us know and we will do our best to get our bloggers and interns on it.
We hope this site makes your journey with your college student a little easier, less stressful, and perhaps save you some money and frustration.
LGBTQ Campus Support and Resources
College can be challenging for all students which is why finding ways to make connections with others who identify similarly can make a big difference. Although LGBTQ PRIDE is becoming more prevalent, the LGBTQ community often face additional pressures or concerns. The majority of college campuses today offer resources and information about support systems available to both help navigate the college environment and make connections in a group setting.
Many colleges have faculty or student-led groups that champion and empower the LGBTQ community promoting advocacy and education as well as creating opportunities for socialization and support. Campuses are not only taking an active stance against prejudiced behavior; they are also making sure that LGBTQ students have a place where they can feel welcome. The American College Health Association estimates that at least 10% of college students identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, asexual, pansexual, or questioning.
There are also many online and local community resources available for LGBTQ students who are interested. Some will even work with universities to help students find housing, employment, and healthcare services that will be a more comfortable fit for them. Students can browse social media groups to research current issues and campaigns concerning the LGBTQ community at their respective colleges. Perhaps, too, check your college calendar to find LGBTQ friendly and inclusive activities.
Students that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or queer should not only feel secure that they have a safe environment where they can thrive as a student, but they should also feel confident that there is a community that will welcome them to a place they can make connections.
Cultural fit is extremely important. All students want to feel supported and embraced. Each college has an opportunity for all students to get involved or find their welcome space within an LGBTQ community. Here is a national list of colleges with an LGBTQ Center, however, there are probably more on each campus. Find out what groups, organizations, or clubs are offered at your individual school.
For school-specific information, check out each university.