I am thrilled to bring you this episode!
Not only is if overflowing with content that I wish I had known before my daughter headed off to school, but I also learned a few things.
My guest, Katy Oliveira, Host of the Collegehood Advice podcast, shares her advice and tips on navigating the first semester and how we, as mothers, may help our children.
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This Episode is Brought To You By
- The GPS Support Flock, Your Flight to Success in the Empty Nest
- Free Download: How to Find Yourself in the Empty Nest Resource, Today!
What You Will Learn in this Episode
- Your role as benefactor
- How grade notifications are handled in college, and a quick chat about FERPA
- Campus resources that parents should be aware of for their child
- What are challenges our child might face in the first semester
- Katy’s best piece of advice
Episode Questions for You To Consider
- What are you most focused on for your child’s first semester?
- If you went to college, what are some defining moments from your first semester? Do you remember any?
Where to find this episode’s guest: Katy Oliveira, Host of the Collegehood Advice Podcast
- Collegehood Advice Website
- Collegehood Advice Podcast
- Follow Collegehood Advice on Instagram
- Like Collegehood Advice on Facebook
First Time Here? Try This Order of Episodes
- The Your Empty Nest Coach Podcast Trailer
- Series 1: Empty Nest Prep – starts at episode #3
- Series 2: The CEO of Your Life – starts at episode #64
- Series 3: The CEO Toolbox – starts at episode #88
All College Topic Podcast Episodes:
- My Child’s College Major – I don’t love it!
- Top advice from Ursinus College’s Admission and Financial Aid Counselors
- I picked my college – now what? A checklist for you!
- How to handle your child leaving home (for college and other life events)
- Extracurriculars with Guest: AdmissionsMom
- The Scholarship Shark podcast: A Conversation with College Moms
- With my Child Heading to College, Are the thoughts I am having normal?
- What are you making grades mean?
- The First Semester Transition: What to Expect and How Mom Can Help
- Medium Article: What to Expect When Your College Freshman Comes Home for Thanksgiving Break
- College Move-In Day: Tips & Helpful Items
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 28: What Mom Should Expect During That First Semester at College, and How Mom Can Help. … My guest today is Katy Oliveira. Katy is the founder of Collegehood, LLC, and the host of the Collegehood Advice podcast, where she shares expert insights, strategies, and stories to help students thrive during college.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 28: What Mom Should Expect During That First Semester at College, and How Mom Can Help. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
Hello, my future empty nest friend! I have another guest today, and she’s another podcaster who has a show that I enjoy listening to, even if it is directed toward college students. It helps me in my role as a parent of a college student, to be aware of resources to share with my daughter and other parents. She has topics such as how to have your most motivated week ever, and how to tackle a big assignment. That may apply to anyone. I encourage you to take a listen to her podcast.
My guest today is Katy Oliveira. Katy is the founder of Collegehood, LLC, and the host of the Collegehood Advice podcast, where she shares expert insights, strategies, and stories to help students thrive during college. For 15 years, she has guided thousands of college students through their collegehood in her roles as a professional academic advisor, college success coach, university administrator, and instructor. She currently helps students find out what they want to do with their life then, use their college experience to make it happen through her coaching and online programs.
When she’s not helping students you can find her in a garden, on a yoga mat, or in a kitchen, cooking with her friends and family in Austin, Texas. I subscribe to Katy’s podcast, and I have to say one of my favorite episodes so far has been #63, “Is Your Major Causing Your Low Motivation?” Definitely check out her podcast, it is fantastic, and we even talk about this specific episode in this interview.
Christine: Welcome to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, Katy!
Katy: Thank you so much for having me on your show. I’m really excited to be here.
Christine: Likewise. So thrilled that you asked to be on. My listener, with Katy’s 15 years of experience, I thought we would cover some topics today that are important for mom and dad to understand. You might be well aware of these, but you also might have no clue. The first one I see first-hand, where I work, I have to admit, my parents never asked to see my college grades outside of the end of the semester or even my schedule. But that could be because back in the day, this stuff was just starting to get online. I had to go to a computer lab to type things, so yeah.
Katy: Me, too.
Christine: There was no logging in to see my grades in between classes. Right? Gosh, I feel really old when I say that. Katy, for the parents who are used to checking their students high school grades, and are possibly heavily involved in their child’s education, what should they prepare for in college, and how is it going to be different?
Katy: It’s going to be very different, and I’m going to be honest, parents won’t necessarily like what I’m about to say. In fact, I gave a presentation last week, where I had a parent get visibly upset when I shared this information. I just want to put that caveat out there. One way to sort of ease us in to my answer, and to start to help parents gather a different frame of mind, is that I know it may be really hard to see, right now, your teenager, who is thinking about prom and staying up all night, and is on their device and maybe not making the best most responsible choices, and you fear that this is going to move forward with them into college, and some of it will. But the thing about going to college is they’re not only making a transition to going to a new environment, and a new school, they are also, literally, making the transition from a teenager to an emerging adult. Your teenager, that lives in your house today, right now, in May, will be an emerging adult within the next year.
Christine: Thank you. I can feel my audience just like “ugh”.
Katy: Why would you tell them that?
Christine: This is why I’m here. Don’t worry.
Katy: Yeah. I feel the cold sweats. I understand. I have a daughter who’s turning eight, and it just occurred to me she’s going to be 18 in only ten years, right? I’m not there yet, but I have a lot of empathy for you. I think that’s really important for the next point, and the reason for that is because when we release them into college as parents, and I think also as educators, and as a society, we perceive that we need to treat them like teenagers, and they, developmentally, are no longer teenagers.
They are becoming emergent adults. Emerging adults literally have different neuroscientific development needs than a teenager. I know it’s hard to imagine, but at 19, many of those needs begin. Because they’re becoming emerging adults, both the federal government and universities begin to treat them like adults, which is going to require you to treat them like adults in some capacities, even if you’re paying for their college experience. Instead of you being the consumer, you are not the university’s client. Your student is the university’s client and you are that student’s benefactor. If I’m a 40-year-old person going to college, and you have more money than me, and you volunteer to pay for my university, that relationship is between me and you, but my relationship is with the university.
Your student is the same way. Your student is a separate entity from you and you’re a benefactor. What that means is, you are the support and the resource for your student, but your student has to take the lead on everything else. They take the lead on the organization of information, on communication, on what they do, who they talk to, how they advocate, everything becomes in the hands of your students, and that’s terrifying, but also amazing, because this is what you’ve been putting all your hard work toward, is making this transition to creating an amazing adult. Now is the time for that to start to unfold. It can be really painful and tricky.
Christine: First of all, I love the benefactor thought. That is great. Because I’ve never heard that, and that explains it very well. It’s a very good way. I work in enrollment, and I answer phones, and I get a lot of parents that call, and, “but I’m paying,” and luckily, I can say I understand, I’m in the same boat. I get it. It is very difficult for a parent to go from that transition, so I think is great that they can have a heads up, and be prepared, and it’s okay. You’ll be okay. Mine went four years early, and I’m still okay. You can do it. You’ll be fine.
Katy: Yeah. And, the universities aren’t just trying to be difficult. There are federal laws that are governing this and the federal law is called FERPA, and it’s the Family Education Responsibility and Privacy Act, is what I believe FERPA stands for. This governs the privacy of a student’s educational record, but it can also protect identifying information. The moment a student enters the university, they’re protected underneath this act. There are releases you can sign, both to give parents information and access, but a student can also sign in documents to prevent a student from getting information and access, and also some departments have internal policies where it’s just their policy not to share information with parents without the student’s knowledge or presence. The university is trying to teach your student to advocate for themselves and their relationship with staff and faculty is with your student. It’s important to know what those things are, but also, I think instead of resisting them, and being irritated by them, understand that they’re there to help your student make this transition, and to take that line of thinking can help your student. It’s frustrating because it’s going to require that you have some communication with you student about what that means; however, it’s there to help your student become an adult and start to take care of their business, and start to communicate with entities just like they’re going to have to do when they leave college and go out into the world, and work with employers, work with the government, work with different vendors for their life.
Christine: Yes. It’s only four years.
Katy: Yeah. It happens really quickly.
Christine: Or more if they go to grad school, but still, you need to have a handle on it. It’s better to find out freshman year, than mom and dad hand-holding through another four years.
Katy: Right. When the stakes are high, but low. Right? There’s a lot of protections in place, right?
Christine: Yes. Only because I’ve seen this, the mom who shows up on campus and asks to meet with their student’s professor? Good or bad?
Christine: Yes. Thank you.
Katy: You’re hurting your student. You’re hurting your student. I mean it both ways. I mean it like you’re ripping your student off of the opportunity to advocate for themselves. I mean in that way, but I literally mean it as a professor, as a person who’s sat in especially with old-school professors, who have been a professor for 60 years, and a parent shows up, they immediately are going to see that student as weak, and it’s going to hurt that student’s ability to have that person as a mentor and a reference, and your student’s going to need that, right? It’s because the professor and the university do not perceive your student as a child. They perceive your student as an adult. There is a difference in perception between you and the professor. The professor’s student is not you, so that idea, if you’ve always negotiated with your student’s teachers in conferences when there are issues, that’s student now has to do that with the professors. In fact, it’s one of the most important things a student can learn to do during college.
Christine: Definitely. I know that you know some of the most useful resources for parents to know about on campus, not necessarily for parents to use, but for them to say, you know, if their child’s having a problem, they can mention them to them, “hey, check this out” kind of thing?
Katy: Yeah. My number one piece of advice is, I do believe in the sacred relationship between parents and students, and I think that universities are going to attempt to, not sort of put a wedge, but sort of bust you up. Right? You’re going to find that right when you go to orientation, and you’re going to sort of get relegated to the background. I think that they do that because they don’t want you to take the lead, but it’s not that they don’t want you to have a role. The role that you have is to be encouraging, supportive and a resource. You would function for your child, in just the same way you would function for an adult friend, who needs support, resources, encouragement. You’re giving advice in a form that’s like, I’m knowledgeable about the resources that are out there, so I can advise and recommend, but I don’t call and sign up for the resource for my friend, right? You’re going to take that same role for your child. We can get into this a little bit more, but there are a couple things that I recommend that students have in place that make it easier to smoothly enter the college experience and to transition through the growing pains. The most important ones are your faculty, your advisors, your health center and student disability services office.
If I had to put a hierarchy on those, I would say the advising office, and the reason for that is that the advising office is usually a really good turnstyle, and what I mean by that, is that they are the best referrers on the campus. They are going to be able to ask your student a handful of questions and most quickly discern what probably is the root cause of their challenge or their growing pain, and then directly connect them to the person they need to talk to. Depending on the level of engagement of the advising office, maybe even give them language to use to advocate for themselves, “Kay, go to your professor’s office hours and say, “I am not doing well in your class, and I’d like to know what I can do to improve my grade.”” Right? We can actually language it for them. Advisors are really great that way. If I had to say one resource, I would find the academic support on the campus, and build a relationship with them. The student builds a relationship with them, not the parent.
Christine: Absolutely. As mothers, here’s another question for you, many of us have a default mode of worry, and I’m working to help my listeners with this, for sure, but what are some challenges that we as parents may expect, that our students might have a different moment in a semester?
Katy: Yeah. I actually have sort of divvied up the semester into four transitional phases. Like I was saying earlier, when you’re making the transition to college, it’s a transition, right? You’re moving to a new environment, a new culture, a new community, but you’re also doing that at the very same time that you’re doing a lot of internal developmental work. This is why this change is particularly hard for young people.
The semester, I kind of bust it up. If it’s a 15-ish week semester, it’s four different phases. The very first phase is the summer camp phase, and I think this phenomena happens regardless if you live on campus or not. Even students who are commuting experience this phase, but this is especially acute for students who are living in a residence hall. This phase’s primary objective is to figure out how to plug into the community, and it’s to figure out how to make friends. It feels like their at camp, right? It’s like their in a giant, never-ending slumber party, and they’re hanging out and they’re staying up all night, and they’re doing silly stuff, and they’re going to parties and they’re going to welcome days type events that the university has established to get them to connect. The university knows this, so the university’s primary objective during this time, is for your student to connect. By the third week, if your student doesn’t connect, they’re going to want to transfer.
Katy: That’s a positive, because the student is trying to find their way and connect; however, there’s a couple of negatives that come out of that. The first is this is also when you’re going to see the biggest homesickness, and you and your student are going to want your student to come home for the weekend. But if your student comes home for the weekend, every weekend for that first month, then you have just, and your student has just missed out on the key first-line opportunity to connect to the university. The second thing, is because your student is so focused on making friends and connecting, or feeling homesick and trying to stay connected to people back home, friends and you, then they aren’t really paying too much attention to their academics. They maybe haven’t had any assessments in this time period, but they’ve gotten material. They’re going to feel like they’ve heard this material before, because from the outside, their classes look like classes they’ve taken, but the fatal mistake that student’s make, is that just because it’s the same subject, doesn’t mean you’re going to be assessed on the same knowledge and information. In college, you’re not being assessed on what you know, or the facts, like in high school. You’re being assessed on applying an understanding and having more sophisticated understanding of the information. A test is looking for the best answer, not the right answer. Students are in this time, not really preparing for what’s to come in the second phase.
Christine: Very true.
Katy: I’ve learned this, but over the years, the hard way of telling students in the fifth week, this is what you can expect. Just three bits of advice on that. One, I always encourage students to give themselves time and space to make friends, and not to try and just make friends by the people who are in closest proximity to them. They want to be friends with their roommate, or their suitemate, or the person who sits next to them in a gen ed class. Honestly, these are proximity friends who are usually going to turn over. Your student’s more likely to find their very truest friends in organizations and involvement opportunities that they really care about and in courses within their major. Those are going to be the people who actually have something in common with, not people they randomly got put next to in the structure of the university.
The other advice I have for students is to never miss a class, and to begin working on assignments the moment they are assigned, not when they are due. All three of those bits of advice come into play in this first phase, because they start to set up. Those are the best things they can do in that first phase to sort of navigate that level of challenge.
Christine: Excellent. Definitely.
Katy: The second phase, I think on the sheet I shared, I called it culture shock. I’ve recently shifted it to reality check, but same thing. This is really when the “I’m at summer camp” begins to wear off, and they realize that they live here now, and that these people are getting on their nerves. Homesickness can amplify because of this. The desire to want to come home may become even more acute, because not only are the people starting to get on their nerves because stress and pressure and weariness are starting to increase, but they’re going to have their first round of assessments during this time, so their first round of exams and papers, and their not going to do as well as they thought they were going to do, because they don’t know how to prepare for a college level academic work. They’re going to use what worked for them in high school, and usually what worked for them in high school isn’t going to work for them in college, even if they were at the top of their class.
In fact, sometimes, guys who were at the top of their class didn’t really have to study, actually do the worst in this first round, because they aren’t equipped to have to do the work it takes. I find sometimes a B student who was really scrappy in high school, fairs really well during this time, and an A student, who never lifted a finger, could do everything at the last minute, really gets a rude awakening at this time. That’s normal. The good news is that usually, this first round of assessments are lowest value, because professors know this is what’s going to happen.
My advice is not to be like, “I’m a failure at college. What has happened?” To like, “okay, now, we know what to expect and we can take some steps to improve our academics, our time management, our stress management.” It’s a red flag to start putting into place the things that a student needs. I know every parent out there is like, “what can I do ahead of this moment, to make sure this doesn’t happen to my student.” Nothing. I hate to say that. There’s nothing you can do really. You can tell them until you’re blue in the face, and they’re going to hear it from orientation people, and they’re going to hear it from their professors, and they’re going to think it doesn’t apply to them until it happens. The most important thing you can do for your student, is to make sure they have just in time information when the challenge emerges, so that the student can then repair and grow and learn from the mistake. You cannot prevent them from facing the adversity. The adversity is not bad. The adversity actually is good, and is going to help them improve and grow. The trick is helping them learn to weather the adversity.
Christine: Excellent. I’m giving a plug to those B students out there. I was one of you. We’re scrappy. It’s good.
Katy: Me, too. We’re all scrappy. I’m very resourceful and it’s a good thing.
Christine: Yes. I worked hard for my high B’s and A’s. Really hard.
Katy: Yes. It will help you in life.
Christine: It does.
Katy: The third phase I call the scramble. This is that eight to 12 week period, and the reason this is scramble, is because of that first round of tests, maybe the student didn’t do well, and now the student is, “oo, I really need to figure this academic thing out.” You may find, too, during this time, that the student’s commitments increase. They become busier. That might make them feel a little bit left out of things. Also, an idea about changing a major usually emerges during this time. At many universities, this is when advising begins. I know that’s crazy, because you’re like, “What? We just got to college,” but advising usually starts during this phase. A student feels a slight bit of pressure that they have to really commit to this thing, because they’re going to sign up for another semester of classes.
It is very common for students to change their major at some point during the first three semesters. I’ve seen statistics as high as 70% of students do change their major at some point in the first three semesters. It’s important to allow your student the space and time to explore this. I think this is the linchpin of a successful college experience is having a student be in a major that really, truly inspires them, and having a clear idea of why they’re in college for themselves. It has to be authentic and in alignment with who they really are. If that’s true, a lot of the challenges of college sort of fall away, and a lot falls into place. If that’s not true, the student can really struggle with motivation, with connecting with using their college intentionally. You’re going to usually see that start to emerge at this time, because of either academic performance, exposure to a major finally, that they thought was a good match on paper, but now, they’ve tested it, and it’s not, questioning about the classes they have to take next semester. This first semester was fine, but, “Oh, man, now I have to take Calculus to major in this? Oo, I don’t want to take Calculus.” They start to get more information and start to king of be like, “Oo, I don’t know.”
Christine: Yeah. Two things on that, first of all, you have a really great podcast episode about this, about the major and motivation. I listened to it. It was great. I’m going to have that in the show notes.
Katy: Thank you.
Christine: I have one where I talk about majors and I talk about the statistics and how parents are all freaking in high school about does the college have the major and this, and I always talk about like, find a college that fits them, and has a wide variety of majors, because of that statistic. If they go in, all in one, and there isn’t a variety, they’re limited, and the transfer rates, I think, would be a little higher, or just miserable.
Katy: Yeah. A lot of schools are going away from having them declare a major in the first semester, really innovative, forward schools, that they’re doing away with the pressure on the major and giving more space for exploration. The thing is, is that it’s one of these things, that we want to frontload this into a teenager. A teenager simply does not have enough experience, and life experience and exposure to make these decisions. Even if you make them take all the assessments in the world, an assessment is just not enough. An assessment is just one way to get information. They have got to have some life experiences to start to refine both who they are and how who they are connects to the world of work. They don’t know enough about who they are, and they don’t know enough about the world of work to make those connections. That’s honestly what the college experience is for. The college experience is not just to check a box and get a credential to get a job. That’s an old model. This is like my soapbox. I’ll get on my soapbox, because this is my soapbox thing.
Christine: No. It’s good. I’m with you. I’m cheering her on. I’m like yes, go!
Katy: This is my passion. My background’s in History and I talk a lot about Economic History, and that’s an antiquated model. When a small percentage of people had access to college, and it was a way to vet professionals. You become a subset of professionals if you went to college. That is not what college is for now. College is to educate you in some really important transferable skills that employers desperately want, and those are things like communication, collaboration, the ability to pivot, the ability to problem solve, the ability to communicate, and a college degree provides your student with those things. However, it’s not ticking off the boxes, like, I got into the prestigious school, and then, I got the right major, and then, I got the right internship, and then, I got the right job. That’s not really the model any more. It’s what you do during that time. That idea, I just get in the right school, get in the right major, and then I can just party the rest of the time, and then, I’m set for life. That’s the 70’s. That’s not how it is.
Christine: You’re making people sad.
Katy: You have to do something with it.
Christine: Sorry. I’m sorry. Probably not parents. The parents are going “Whoo.”
Katy: That’s why picking something that truly aligns with them, is essential. That’s what I help students do. That’s what my work is. My coaching work is helping students figure out their life and then using college to make it happen. I think it is the tie that binds. It is the thing.
Christine: Absolutely. Preach. Go!
Katy: Yeah. The final phase is the time to get serious phase. This the one, you asked me, parents worry. This is the phase that is worrying to parents. All the stress, all the poor sleep, all of the kind of depletion from the transition of the college experience sort of comes to a head in this phase. This can be a really beautiful phase, where they really can move their grades really high, and they can really do cool projects. They can really start to get to know their professors. They can get really involved in organization and kind of get their stride, or it’s the phase where students want to drop out, are hospitalized for mental health breakdowns, become very ill with things like the flu, pneumonia. The reason for the negative things are the high stress, low immunity because of the stress and the poor self-care that happens, coupled with the highest value assignments being at this time of the semester. It can kind of come to a head and this is also when they come home for Thanksgiving, and you’re going to be like, “what has happened to my baby?” They’re in their room, trying to do their paper that’s due the Monday after Thanksgiving break, because there’s only a week and a half of the semester left, and that last week is when everything’s due. You’re irritated because you’re like, I just want to hang out with my baby on Thanksgiving, and it’s just the nature of how the semester is structured that causes that. I’m telling you this because this is the most challenging time of the semester for them, but also for you, as a parent.
Christine: Yes. Thanksgiving is a joke. My daughter’s out-of-state, so it’s four days. It’s the worst time to travel. Any more, I just go down to where she is, and we’re going to go something local there, because she has so much work. She feels bad if we go places with the family, because she wants to write her papers that are due. Be prepared for that, mom, because that was shocking. It’s the things you don’t remember when you’re a student in college. Katy’s right on.
Katy: I think things have changed a little bit. Back when some of us may have been in college, the model, especially even in the freshman year, was a midterm and a final, and there were fewer assignments. Now, there’s a lot more assignments and it’s by design to help your student have as many opportunities to influence a positive as possible. But it creates a lot more work than what you, maybe, experienced when you went to college.
Christine: Yeah. Yes. Be warned.
Katy: It’s actually a retention initiative.
Christine: Big time. It is big. My listeners, Katy has shared a download printable of all of the transitions with us, so make sure you go to my website. I’m going to have the link at the end of my podcast and you can have that printed for you to remind you. Yes. Excellent. All right, so Katy if you could have all of the entering college freshmen parents in one gianormous room and had the ability to give them one piece of advice, what would it be?
Katy: Use the university’s resources, and also, any other supplemental resources out there. There’s a lot of them. This is a difficult challenge for you, as a student and parent, and the fact that it’s challenging is not a sign you don’t belong there, right? I think there’s that perception. I hear students say this, “if I got in, that’s enough. I should be able to just do this thing easily. That’s a sign that I’m capable of doing this.” I hear from parents all the time, “I really need to enlist you. I really wish you’d told this to my student, because they don’t listen to me. I tell them this stuff, but they don’t listen to me.” The way around that is by enlisting support outside of the family of other adults and mentors, just as you would as an adult. Find professionals to assist you through the process of transition or a challenging experience, or an opportunity, like you would hire a coach, right? For this transition into becoming an empty nest parent, or you would hire a financial planner, or a realtor, or a fitness instructor for any kind of thing you want to achieve. It’s the same thing for your college student. You can hire outside coaches like me to help them with certain things. There’s executive functioning coaches. There are tutors. There are people like me that help them figure out what they want to do with their lives. The university, itself, has a slew of people.
I would say, the most important thing is finding a mentor on your campus, like students finding an adult mentor. That person can be a professional on the campus, or they can be a faculty member on the campus. I would encourage an adult mentor over a student mentor. Those student mentors are helpful as well, making sure that the student is engaging in the experience of college and not fearful of sort of popping their head up and saying, “I need help. I don’t know. Where do I go for…, what kinds of resources do we have to help me with this?” That download also has, kind of depending on what the challenge is, the different offices that are the go-to, kind of generic, offices at most campuses, right?
Depending on what the issues are. I think that’s the top most important thing, is to really understand what your university is offering to support your student, but also understand that when you are thinking about developing and supporting your student, what that means to you and what that means to the university are different. The university’s objective is to retain, so keep your student there, and make them persist, so get them to graduate. Your objective is for your student to develop into a happy, successful, amazing person. Sometimes, if your little B-student with a major, is sort of internally struggling and the university’s not going to necessarily know that, because based on their metrics, your B-student, who might be internally struggling with what they want to do and with their motivation, isn’t showing up on their radar, because on the surface she looks perfectly fine. She’s got a major. She’s making good grades. She’s attending class. She’s in a club. Check, check, check, she’s on the road to persistence and retention. That’s how a lot of people get out of college with a degree and good grades, and they’re like, “Now what? Why did I just do that?” There’s a disconnection between what you’re doing during college, and how to sort of maximize the investment. Yes, you want to use the resources on your university, but you also have to understand that you have to advocate for yourself, and you have to kind of be very strategic about kind of getting your foot in the door for the opportunities. That’s my biggest take-away is engage with the investment of college itself. Then, of course, there’s all kinds of other things, too, but I think that’s the best entry point, especially during the first semester, is to just be really connected.
Christine: That’s great advice. I think it’s something that easier for someone who’s very social and extroverted.
Christine: The students who tend to sit back, parents need to understand that it might take them a little longer, and they might need more encouragement to get out there and talk to other people. I have seen that. I’m the kind of person I’ll talk to anybody; although, I’m introverted, I have my threshold. There are other people who just sit back, and it might take a year before they find someone they’re comfortable with. I don’t know how you battle that. Do you have any ideas?
Katy: Universities, themselves, will have programs trying to connect students to mentors. A lot of students don’t sign up for that kind of stuff, because they want to seem cool, and they’re looking to their left and looking at their right, to see what other students are doing. In high school, I think we’ve been trained to conform for survival. In college, you don’t want to conform for survival. You have to not conform to survive. It’s the opposite. That conditioning, especially in mainstream, big public high school to conform to survive, in some ways, when I see students take off like rockets, it’s because they found their own little groove. They’re starting to understand who they are, and they’re starting to be cool with that. That quirkiness and that uniqueness is how they’re connecting with quirky professors and upper class students who have the same passion as them. You can be in a club that’s only about this one anime show that nobody else at your high school likes, but at your college, there’s ten people who do. Suddenly, your geekiness and your quirks and your nonconformity are your superpowers, but you sit out yet, which is why giving space to kind of understand who you are, is really important.
Christine: Excellent. I think you the tweet of episode. In college, you don’t want to conform for survival. I was like, “Yes! That’s it.” They should have that in our head, when we start applying. That’s great. That sounds great. I’m a subscriber of your podcast, Collegehood Advice, and as I mentioned earlier, in the intro, I love it! Can you tell my audience a bit about your podcast?
Katy: Yeah. My podcast, I think of it as curating experts and resources and tools, techniques, strategies, stories, to help students kind of gather all the information and tools they need to thrive during their college experience. We talk about a wide range of topics. I try to cover a wide of range of experiential topics, from everything from sort of college life type issues, all the way to productivity, major, and everything in between. You can listen to it anywhere you listen to podcasts. It’s short format, normally, so it’s 10 to 30 minute episodes, and that’s on purpose, so that a student can listen to it on their walk to class. A lot of times parents are like, “I want you to tell these things to my student.” The podcast is the way to get me in your student’s ears. The podcast episodes are very strategically released to be in rhythm with the academic year. I’m always releasing a podcast that’s relevant to what’s in the mind of most students at that moment of the year. It’s helpful for students across all four years. It’s not just for first semester freshmen. I would recommend the best way to get me in the ears of your student, is to have them subscribe to the podcast and getting in the habit of listening to it weekly.
There’s other ways to engage, my email list, I have free resources there to kind of help them take their first steps towards cultivating some academic habits that are healthy and more sustainable, instead of thinking of them in terms of right and wrong. I think about it in terms of authenticity and sustainabilities. You might find things that work for you, but they need to be sustainable. They need to be working for you. By working for you, I mean, you’re sleeping, you’re well, and you’re getting the outcomes you want. Not working for you, we think of it’s just getting the outcomes you want, and it’s not. You have to be sleeping, well, and getting the outcomes you want, or else what you’re doing isn’t working for you. A way for a student to get information, young adults are different than teenagers in that young adults actually want to hear research based information from experts, not their peers. Teenagers want to hear information from their peers. Young adults start to want to hear information from experts. That’s what we do. We collect together experts from all over the country to get that information in the ear of students, so it doesn’t just sound like random advice mom’s giving me.
Christine: Yes. It’s true. I’ve sent episodes to my daughter, “Hey, who’s editing this podcast? And, if you haven’t subscribed yet, do it now.” Really, mom’s you need to get your children to subscribe to her podcast, because it’s going to help everyone. Definitely.
Katy: Yeah. A lot of that is reinforcing to the work of the university. It seemed to augment, so we refer a lot to the resources on universities, where to go, who to ask, who’s there to help you.
Christine: Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, Katy has been kind enough to share a printable document with us, so head to my website to pick it up today. It’s a fantastic “Transition Map of Your Child’s First Semester in College and Resources.” You are going to want this. Pick it up at www.youremptynestcoach.com/p28, so that’s P for podcast, and the number 28. Katy, is there anything else you would like to share with my amazing future empty nest friend, today?
Katy: I think we’ve covered it. I think the other thing is just remember that a good rule of thumb is always ask yourself, am I supporting my student to do XYZ, or am I doing XYZ for my student? When you’re about to take an action, ask yourself that question, and if the answer is I’m doing it for my student, stop yourself, and then, think about how can I support my student to do XYZ, and that will help kind of guide you in this transition.
Christine: Excellent advice. That’s great. Before you go, I have four questions that I ask every guest of mine. They’re the most important part of the podcast. I swear. First of all, waffles or pancakes?
Christine: Anything on them?
Katy: I like pancakes every way they come, but I like New Hampshire maple syrup. My parents live in New Hampshire, and my mom is generous enough to send me that syrup and that’s what I want on them.
Christine: All right. That sounds so good. What is one item you couldn’t live without and why?
Katy: I really thought about this a lot, and I don’t know that I have one.
Katy: I’m pretty scrappy. I’m like eh, I could probably figure it out without it. I need the internet, because then I couldn’t talk to you. If we lost the internet, I’d be really bummed.
Christine: I think I’m there, too. Yes. I’m ready to live in an RV, in a tent, permanently, but I need the internet.
Katy: Exactly. Yes. I could be minimalist, with the internet.
Christine: Yes. There we go. That’s it. Do you have an all time favorite movie?
Katy: Yes. It’s the “Princess Bride.”
Christine: So good. So good.
Katy: I don’t know why. I watched it when I was a kid, in someone’s basement, and it just captured my imagination and I’ve loved it every since.
Christine: That’s so great. I love it. Okay. You have an hour of alone time, no one will bother you, what is your go to thing to do?
Katy: I have small children, so I’m going to sleep.
Christine: Excellent answer. That’s what every mother of young children say, I swear.
Katy: Nobody’s tapping you on the shoulder at 5:00 in the morning.
Christine: This has been so much fun. Thanks so much for being here. Thanks for everything that you do to assist college students and their parents on their journey through college.
Katy: Thank you so much for having me. This has been so much fun.
Christine: That was so much fun. I highly recommend that you mention this podcast to your college student as I’ve mentioned before, as Katy has a ton of great topics that your student will find helpful in the years to come. You may find Katy’s podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. It is titled Collegehood Advice, and you may also find her on Instagram or Facebook, with the handle, you guessed it, Collegehood Advice. All of these details will be included in my show notes, along with a link to her website, collegehoodadvice.com. Thanks for joining Katy and I today. Don’t forget to download the printable that she gave us. It includes the “First Semester Transition Map and College Resources.”
Please don’t hesitate to fly on over to our Facebook group. Our name is Green Popsicle Sticks. Want to know why? Listen to episode number 17, or head to my website, youremptynestcoach.com/community, for links to join our flock. Why should you join our group? The adjustment to having your kiddos at home full time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you are ready to begin the journey to find future you, and use her are your GPS, sign up for my free program, “The Empty Nest: A Guide to Discovering Future You.” Curious about it first? Check out episode 13, it covers the high-level content of my free program, which includes videos and worksheets to allow you to dive deeper.
The questions I have for you in this episode are: What are you most focused on for your child’s first semester? My second question, if you attended college, what are some defining moments that you remember from your first semester? As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that positively impact your life. You’ll also find show notes for this and every episode on my website.
My next episode is: All About Future You, and I Don’t Know What to Do Next. If my show has helped you in anyway, please share it with one other person you think it will help too. You’ll be giving them a free gift. Thanks for your time and energy with that, and thanks so much for listening, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!
You are preparing for the empty nest ahead as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college.