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
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
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
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 KeysGetting 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.