Friday, August 29, 2014

Sierra Club's 2014 "Cool Schools"

I'm not a big fan of college ranking lists such as the one published by US News and World Report.

Eight years ago, however, the Sierra Club began publishing its list of "Cool Schools," or colleges and universities that have made the commitment to running an environmentally sustainable campus, and I think these schools are worth a look.

For one thing, the schools that rank high on the Sierra Club list are often schools with strong and innovative environmental programs, so if a student is interested in earth science of any sort, a "cool" school might be a good fit.  Also, as Sierra magazine points out, Cool Schools are places where "passionate, creative idealists" can make a difference--where students have a true voice and influence on institutional policy.

This year's top schools include University of California at Irvine, American University in Washington, D.C., and Dickinson College in Carlisle Pennsylvania.

Check out more "Cool Schools" here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Launching Your Freshman off to College

Yesterday we took our oldest daughter to the airport to catch a plane to Boston.  She will soon start her first semester at Tufts University—and she won’t return home until just before Christmas.    Somehow, despite months of preparation, I wasn’t quite ready to let her go. . . 

This summer I did what I often do when faced with a new challenge—I read.  Here I will share an article and a few books I found helpful for this “off to college” transition:

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured a helpful, practical article, 

It offers several suggestions for gradually letting go of daily involvement in your now young adult’s life including—

--Be available to listen but initiate few phone calls.

--Let your child contact professors and administrators without your interference.

--Talk to your child about the difference between high school “homework” and college “coursework.” Explain the importance of the syllabus for each course and how professors are not as lenient or understanding about missed classes.

--Discuss the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs with your child before he/she leaves home.

--Make sure he/she knows how to do laundry.

--Create an online family calendar to help with scheduling.

Here are some books that contain good tips and information about college life and the transition to young adulthood:

The Naked Roommate For Parents Only: A Parent’s Guide to the New College Experience by Harlan Cohen (a companion version to the one for students, which  is also excellent)

The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life by Laura Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt

I’m Going to College—Not You!  Surviving the College Search with your Child, Edited by Jennifer Delahunty (some amusing and some more philosophical essays on the college launch)

Good luck with the launching process—it’s an important transition both for the college freshman and for the family left behind.