Well, this is it.
Your son’s high school graduation came and went a month ago already. He celebrated with a nice graduation party and a huge cake last weekend with his closest friends and the entire family, right down to the infamous cheek-pinching aunt and that one uncle who pulls the coins out of his ear and tells the same jokes. Your son is booked every weekend throughout the entire summer attending his friends’ graduation parties…that is, if he’s not too busy loafing around the house neglecting his chores. And then…college.
How is this all happening so fast?!
Okay, parent/guardian of a college student, take a deep breath and relax. We’re going to get through this. I’ve had an obvious realization that students are not the only ones adjusting to the whole college transition. So, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and all guardians alike, this one’s for you!
What if my student…
…gets sick at school? There is a health center located in the Anderson Sports and Health Center for ill students. Your student’s Resident Assistant (RA) can direct your student there. The Health Center is the place to go to acquire medical assistance or suggestions for further care. The Health Center provides treatment for common illnesses by a nurse practitioner as well as tips on how to stay healthy during college under different stressors. There are walk-in clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals in near-by Wilkes Barre if more serious care is necessary.
…needs money? There is an ATM on campus to make withdrawals for a fee. Instead of paying the extra charge (it adds up!), consider having your student make withdrawals at your personal bank before arriving on campus. There are banks in the area students can also use instead of paying extra fees.
Do you want your student to have money available in case of emergency, but you’re afraid he/she might not save it up? Consider giving your student a bank card or prepaid card that YOU control. I have a card from my bank that my dad controls online, so if I need $50 for gas, he can just make some clicks online and there is money on my card seconds later for me to use at the pump. This is a good way to provide your student a valuable resource but not to let them take advantage of it.
…is an athlete? Who pays for her team expenses like travel and food? If your student is an athlete, her schedule is going to be very different than non-athletes, naturally, but her time management skills will be impressive. The athletics department pays for most team expenses, depending on the team’s budget. The University will provide the uniform and also wash the uniform after games/practices. I was on a team and we had to pay for our own team sneakers because we did not have enough money fundraised…and this is why most teams participate in fundraisers. Teams are credited with a certain amount of money during each away game for food, so your student will be fed on behalf of MU even when off campus and travel expenses to regular season games are covered by the school.
If your student plays a fall sport she may be required to move onto campus early to start training or conditioning before classes begin. During this “pre-season” time period, your student will be provided with meals in the cafeteria paid for by the athletic department.
…has problems with his/her roommate? The first person your student should confront is his roommate for possible solutions, but if things aren’t working out, your student needs to go talk to his RA. This RA is going to be your student’s guardian angel and go-to person for quick answers and problem fixes. If the living situation is just not working out, after the first few weeks of school there is a grace period in which students can switch roommates with other students who are not getting along with their roommates. If you’re going to live on campus you’d might as well live comfortably. The chain to follow is talk to your roommate, your RA, your Resident Director (RD) and if necessary, the Residence Life office to change roommates.
…doesn’t like the cafeteria food? Coming to college the food is much more abundant and diverse than in any high school cafeteria. There must be something that your student can enjoy, but if not, the Den is a made-to-order offset of the cafeteria with its own menu. The Misericordia cafeteria has a grill, a deli and a main entree station, each of which has a different special every day. The grill serves items such as hamburgers, turkey burgers, hot dogs, fries, grilled chicken, etc. The deli serves cold or toasted sandwiches made to your liking. The main entree station serves different meals every single day. The first part of the entree station includes any available hot food item served to you, and with the second part of this station students can be more particular about what specifically they want in their meal. For example, at the second part of the entree station on taco day, students can choose if they want chicken/beef, cheese, sour cream, hard/soft shells, tomatoes, guacamole, etc. on their tacos. It’s nice to have some say in your meals. Cereal, a bread bar and a toaster are always available, as is a full salad bar complete with many different and changing toppings and dressings. Desserts, vegan options and drink stations are also available. There are options available for students with special diets (such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, allergies, etc.).
…is not doing well in a class? Your student can sign up to receive free peer tutoring in the Student Success Center (SSC). Many students receive this tutoring even when they are doing well in class because going to regular tutoring sessions is a surefire way to make time to review and study with classmates. The tutors are Misericordia students tutoring classes in which they have received an ideal grade (as approved by the SSC) and professor approval to aide other students in learning the material. Peer tutoring is a great way to find out tips from upperclassmen who have already taken the course with the same professor your student is taking. Tutors often explain what to expect from the professor concerning things like tests, attendance, quizzes, homework, etc.
Students should definitely take advantage of their professors’ office hours. Professors are required to be on campus and available to students a few hours each week, so your student should definitely stop by even to say hello and have the professor remember his/her name. The professors are available to answer any questions about class projects or assignments, and in most cases professors don’t mind lending an ear to hear about a tough day.
…wants to change his/her major? Your student should first talk to his academic advisor. This advisor is assigned to your student before arriving on campus. The advisor will discuss as many details as possible with him about the transitioning process between majors and what will be required of him to do. Actually changing the major requires filling out a slip of paper, getting it signed and handing it into the Registrar’s office. Your student’s academic advisor will guide him along the way, reminding him of what classes he has taken and what classes are required. His new academic advisor (which comes along with switching majors) will remind the student what classes he now needs to take to get on track with his new major.
…wants a job on campus? Getting a job on campus depends on whether or not students qualify for Federal Work Study. If you need to learn more about that, contact the financial aid department. Applying for on-campus jobs is simple. Your student will log into her e-MU account, find the Student Services tab and click on Student Employment. On the page that appears, she will click on the obvious Student Jobs tab and scroll through the options for jobs available. Your student can create one resume and send it to multiple departments at once, which is recommended because jobs fill up quickly. Advice for your students: Make personal connections with professors and other staff members because these are the people who hire students for these jobs. Students will receive a confirmation email of their application and will receive an email to either deny or accept the job request. Try to find a job within your major so you can learn more about the department and gain experience in your field. If you know of the person hiring, talk to that person about the job. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to stop by and say hello.
…has to walk somewhere at night? Although campus is secluded and generally very safe, your student can call Campus Safety and an escort will walk with your student between buildings on campus at any time. Campus Safety patrols campus by vehicle and by foot 24/7.
…wants to bring his/her car to campus? First-year students are not permitted to have vehicles on campus. It’s nothing personal…there just isn’t enough room for everyone to bring their cars. There is a charge for having a vehicle on campus. However, students with special requests to bring their vehicles onto campus for personal reasons can bring up the issue to student affairs when coming into school. Only students with valid reasons are permitted to have their vehicles on campus. If you do bring your car, good luck finding a parking spot!
…needs to get somewhere but doesn’t have a car? A shuttle service is provided free of charge to Misericordia students on Tuesdays and Friday-Sunday. The shuttle service travels to places like Walmart, the mall, Movies 14, downtown Wilkes-Barre and Francis Slocum just to name a few points of interest. If your student befriends a commuter or another student with a car, that’s an easy way to get to the grocery store a few minutes down the street.
…has to do laundry? Multiple washers and dryers are available in each residence hall. As of summer 2014, these services will no longer be coin-operated, so a laundry fee is included in resident students’ room and board. Make sure your student brings along detergent and dryer sheets (and knows how to do laundry).
Do you have any more questions? Go on, ask away! I’m a real, live college student and I’ve been through this, so I know the ropes. And I work in first-year student orientation, so I’m prepared to help answer both student and parent questions alike. Stay tuned for more advice!