2016 feels unique.  In truth every year is unique, but modern media makes certain trends more obvious.  Just think for a moment, the world is unstable. There is needless violence. Police shootings and terrorist attacks.  Conflicts among religions and races. Enormous poverty and debt.

In the face of this reality – the steps of college are upon us and are evidence that parents have faith that the world can be improved through higher education.  It is true that a higher education can help our students to comprehend and be better prepared to address the challenges of the world.  As college parents – there are a few reminders that are worth highlighting for this year.

Back to School Green Traffic sign copy

1) A New Bill of Rights for Students – Gallup has a silver bullet for solving many of the world’s problems. Here it is: Every student in the world, from pre-K to higher ed, needs:

  • Someone who cares about their development
  • To do what they like to do each day
  • To do what they are best at every day

2) Become an Active Learner – Jeff Sellingo of the Washington Post has 7 tips for college students to be active learners.  Given the investment families make in college, these are not just tips but likely good discussion topics for all parents to have with their students.

3) Age of anxiety & cost of college creates new risks for families – According to a comprehensive post by GradGuard, since 2010 – 2015 student illnesses have grown rapidly.  So illnesses have nearly doubled in the frequency so it is prudent for college families to discuss health issues with their student and to consider the value of tuition insurance to help them return to classes if they are forced to withdraw from classes.

4) College completion – According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, college and universities are promoting programs to enable students to complete college in four years.  Parents can embrace this as good news and as a measure to help families save money (on time graduation is a key savings) and most of all be capable of increasing their capacity to be self-sufficient.  Another key benefit of the focus on college completion is that it should help reduce the student loan default rates.  The worse result from college is often not-graduating after having borrowed to attend.  In fact, 80% of student loans that default are from students who did not graduate.

5) Transparency – Led by the U.S. Department of Education families have access to more data than ever before to make decisions regarding the cost of college, college completion and other topics such as crime and safety reports.  Although schools struggled to manage reports on sexual assaults and still appear to publish accurate crime reports as required under the Clery Act, schools are doing more than in prior years to address these topics.  We recommend that parents also subscribe to their campus student newspaper to monitor campus life (crime and sexual assaults), evaluate annual campus crime reports and confirm the campus refund policy.

These trends are certain to impact our college students and families.  We suggest discussing each with your student and contributing to the discussion with other parents here at www.CollegeParents.org or within our Facebook community.