Advice From the Parents Council

Coaching your students in decision making. When should you think about getting involved?

  • You should definitely help your student out! When they ask for it of course. Remind them that you are there to help and to serve in essence as a backboard to bounce ideas off of. They will appreciate your support. –Olsen Family
  • Understand that sometimes the need for the student to make bad decisions is part of learning, if you can help them avoid some of the more dangerous pitfalls the pattern of learning good decision making will develop in a natural pace that fits your student’s unique and individual needs. –Nix Family

Should you limit trips home or visit on campus more often?

  • We live 1900 miles away…We made an effort to make it out for Parents weekend the 1st really meant a lot to her and we were excited to see how well she had adjusted to the campus and environment. For us, it really helped make us feel more comfortable with her being so far away.
    We were fortunate in that we were able to bring out daughter home for Thanksgiving using airlines miles—it is outrageous to fly around Thanksgiving, but with airline miles you can do it if you have the miles. We put as many of our purchases on the airline credit card so that we can do this. Friends of ours even put their mortgage payment on the miles credit card and then pay it off every month. –Cross Family
  •  Students need to establish a brand new routine at school so it’s best to stay away and let them stay up there several weeks. If you go up, let it be to join them at a sports event or something fun. Remember -family weekend is mid-October.–Mausser Family

How did you approach talking about alcohol and drugs before move-in day.

  • Understanding of the potential peer pressures and helping your student feel comfortable resisting peer pressure in a variety of settings is not a single conversation, so beginning the dialog as soon as the acceptance letter comes in is probably a great opportunity. Be supportive; not lecturing is probably the best general strategy. –Nix Family
  • Most students have been exposed to both alcohol and drugs in the high school environment whether at a public or private high school.  They will be exposed to these same vices again in college and it is likely to be more accessible. You need to encourage your adult students to make decisions with regard to their future, regardless of their friend’s choices.  Many jobs in the engineering field involve government or private sector background checks were the criminal result of bad decision making can have impacts on their employability through disqualification or disadvantages in a competitive job market. –Bogumil Family

Technology advice: campus laptop, tablets, iPhones, etc.

  • Campus lap tops are a great investment.  They are insured and can be serviced easily on campus and they give you a loaner to use while they work on them.  An external hard drive makes sense.  Not everything can be salvaged if your computer crashes.  If your phone plan has a mobile hot spot you may consider adding it to your students policy – I have been told that the school server has weak spots and the hot spot comes in handy to submit papers. –Slabicky Family
  • The reality is that students live on smart devices, so plan for those costs – explore high limit or unlimited voice, data, and text plans, if possible – it makes the costs much more manageable and predictable for you.  Insure that your student is not using a device or tied to a smart device plan that is not well supported in the Capital region of New York, those can be very frustrating for the student and inhibit their interactions with other students at a time they really want to fit in.  Consider loss coverage plans on technology devices: Loss plans or coverage for expensive portable devices, because loss or theft is a possibility is definitely something to consider; Some families can add riders to home insurance plans for specific types of technology items; Renter’s insurance policies are also a low cost option that can cover your student’s expensive technology and personal items against theft (but usually not damage or simply being left somewhere). –Nix Family

Tips & tricks for move in day

  • We are from Colorado…so we wanted to limit the amount of things to bring with us to our daughter’s clothes. We ordered through Bed, Bath, and Beyond online for sheets, pillows, bathroom items, etc. and had them ready for pickup at the store in the Troy area. They have a link online where you can order ahead of time and then schedule pick up when you arrive at Troy. This worked out very well. You can return things immediately that you have ordered if they are not the right color or not what you expected and you don’t pay until you leave the store. We arrived a day earlier to get all of the shopping done and loaded into the car before moving day. I recommend that you get to move-in-day as early as possible…you are more likely to find eager and excited “helpers” earlier in the day and you can park closer the earlier you get in for move-in day. We had to make about 2-3 trips to Target or Walmart because of “things we forgot” so it was good that we started early. Once moved in we said our goodbye and left her.–Cross Family
  • Pack in milk crates – they are easy to carry and fit well in a car. While large Rubbermaid containers seem to make sense they get heavy when filled and you may have to carry them up several flights of stairs. –Slabicky Family

Helping your student balance finances. Should they get a job first semester? Should you give your student spending money? How much?

  • A student’s first year experience is very full and well supportive of the student residential experience but some treats like food deliveries from off campus are a common indulgence – having means to do that on a limited basis through an allowance does help with the integration into the group, but limits are important and can only be learned through experience and discipline. –Nix Family
  • Students are more likely to have a more enriching experience, create lasting friendship and have opportunities to be involved in extracurricular activities if they do not have to constrain themselves with commitment involved in a job. Not only is time outside of class use to study, but it can it also used for joining clubs, intramural sports, labs and fraternal experiences. These experiences can lead to relationships that create a path to professional employment post-graduation. –Bogumil Family

Are care packages too much?

  • It will make the students very happy to send a care package before the holidays such as Thanksgiving. The more, the better. –Gao Family
  • They love care packages- get the flat rate $5 priority mail boxes and fill them with candy, goofy stuff from the dollar store and a funny card – lets them know you are thinking of them.  –Mausser Family

Approaching behavior in the residence halls –roommate troubles, alcohol, video gaming, all-nighters, etc.

  • College is all about decision making and working collaboratively with other people so the RPI Residential Life staff will be actively working with your students to help facilitate resolution of these issues.  Explain to your student that the Resident Advisors in their dorm are there to help them – one of their primary responsibilities is to be a resource to help resolve resident issues but each resident is expected to be a constructive part of every issue resolution.  Encourage your student to be open with roommates, floor mates and other parties about their needs and not let situations develop where they are not comfortable. –Nix Family
  • We told the kids that they should have a ground rules discussion with their roommates.  Determine quiet hours in the room and stick to them.  If they had issues then they should discretely speak with their RA.  Do not take no for an answer. If that does not work then they should speak with a dean.  –Slabicky Family