Seven Tips to Help Your Grandchild Succeed in College

Combine These Tips With Your Influence

by Dr. Roger McIntire

That Fateful Time has come! Your grandchild has gone off to college! Opportunities and challenges, but scary temptations, too! He or she faces new freedoms and choices that will affect their lives, their health, and their future.
How can you help these new adults make wiser--or at least more thoughtful--decisions when you and their parents are not there to guide them?
As a concerned and interested grandparent, use your influence to help your grandchildren succeed. Pass on these seven tips and be available to listen and discuss their joys and concerns.
1. Watch your habits. Habits are bound to change in a new situation with new people and new freedom. It's a good time to try being a little different, but it's also a good time to look out for yourself!
Your drinking decisions are crucial. Illegal drugs may get the most attention but they are way behind alcohol in the number of people made miserable if not in the extent of the misery. Alcohol, drugs, and medications are easy to lose track of in the rush of college life. The alcohol habit is a contagious pitfall because many feel "loosened up" socially, get a high, or escape from their problems temporarily.
Remember that alcohol is a depressant, and since depression is most common in college students, you don't need anything that adds to that! So take care, you will know many students who ruin their college career with too much drinking.
2. Sleep, food and exercise. It's easy to "overdose" on salt, fat, sugar and caffeine. Mistakes here can make you sleep poorly, therefore need more sleep, feel tired and then depressed. Students who "sleep in" too often, usually can trace their problem to these intakes.
Skipping sleep, food or exercise in order to study, work or party will make getting sick more likely. You would think young college students would be a healthy group, but actually their track record on health is miserable! Don't follow the group on this one.
A good diet and exercise can relieve depression, but sugar, alcohol, and over-eating worsen it.
3. Live on campus, if possible. Students often consider only rent when working out the cost of a place to live. Dorms may seem expensive when you consider you only get half a room. Some dorms may have a shared study or "living room" but a private kitchen is rare and rules about food, quiet hours, and drinking can seem juvenile.
There are many drawbacks to "Let's pool our money and get an apartment." Problems here include shopping for and preparing meals and spending time and money commuting. The more subtle aspects are feeling disconnected from what's going on and feeling more responsible for roommates and their happiness, social life, health, and problems.
Students who feel disconnected are more likely to drop out--become totally disconnected--from college. It may be that living off-campus just makes it harder to hang around for all the activities or to get back to campus for social events, interest groups, cooperative studying, and socializing. Or it may be that it just seems easier to put in more hours at an outside job since you are off-campus anyway. Whatever the reason, commuters are at a greater risk of drifting away from, and then dropping out of college.
4. Manage your schedule. At your first registration, keep the number of courses you take at the average or a little below. The shock of coursework needs to be eased into that first time. But a habit of signing up for the minimum or dropping courses when things get tough, can lead to dropping out altogether.
Dangerous decisions that can get you into this problem are 1) holding back on registering for courses in order to make too much time for work, 2) dropping classes because you don't want to get up early, 3) cutting a class until it's too embarrassing to go back, so you drop instead. Don't trap yourself into feeling you are not making enough progress.
5. Manage your money. The same feeling of frustration can develop from mismanaging money just as it can from mismanaging courses. If you always feel you are out of money, don't have enough, or waste too much, you eventually will come up with the idea of taking on more hours at a job. Dropout statistics show that for students working long hours and making long commutes, the chances of making graduation on time are nearly zero!
6. Watch out for vultures. Keep track of the money and the credit card. Many businesses will constantly offer you more credit cards and more opportunities to buy new things. The last thing you need is more demands to make you feel down! Keep your financial life as simple as possible.
Vultures come in many forms and often it is not money they want. Groups advocating everything from just another philosophy to violence and criminal activities are active on every campus. Spend your time as carefully as you spend your money, and don't risk a commitment to a group that might mean trouble.
7. Keep your college records up to date. Make sure the college administration knows of any decision to drop a course. Deciding not to show up without officially dropping a course will result in an "F" that will lower your grade average.
You need the very best grades you can accomplish--for your record, your future resume, and to get into special courses and programs in the later years of college. Many majors require grade-points higher than the average.

From College Keys‹Getting In, Doing Well, & Avoiding the 4 Big Mistakes, Dr. Roger McIntire. Copyright 1998. by Summit Crossroads Press. Excerpted by arrangement with Summit Crossroads Press. $11.95. Available in local bookstores, or by 800-362-0985, or click here.