Monday, October 3, 2011

The Quest to Graduate in Four Years

             Many times, you will hear college graduates talk about their college experience as the best four years of their lives.  In reality, many students are taking five, maybe even six years to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.  We have many programs in place to help students stay on track and save money, such as The Pledge and Finish in Four.  These programs are designed to assist students in identifying an academic program and plan, then making sure they understand the financial cost of fulfilling that program. 
The Pledge guarantees the same tuition rate for eight consecutive semesters.  For example, freshman Arizona residents entering this fall will pay a tuition rate of $8,009 until the 2014 – 2015 academic year.  If students need to continue on for a fifth year, they will be charged the tuition rate for fall 2012.  By the sixth year, students will be charged the same rate as the class entering in fall 2016.  This amount has not been set, but consider the difference in what it will cost to finance that fifth or sixth year for your student!
Our goal is to make sure students are both attempting and earning 15 credit hours each semester in order to graduate in four years.  Here’s the math:

15 credit hours x 2 (semesters in each academic year) = 30 credit hours
30 credit hours x 4 (years) = 120 (the number of credits needed to graduate)

October 28 is the deadline for students to drop individual courses.  Before they make that decision, here are some things for you to ask your student as they consider dropping a course:

How do you feel about your academic progress up to this point?
Encourage your student to be open, honest and realistic about this.  If they require additional assistance through tutoring or Supplemental Instruction, encourage them to seek help now.

Have you met with your professor/instructor about your progress?
This is a key factor in the discussion.  Students should consult with their professors to determine if a withdrawal is the best decision.  They will be able to have discussions with your student about their progress in a particular course.

Have you talked with your academic adviser about how dropping a course will affect your degree progress?
Your student’s academic adviser will be able to discuss options with your son/daughter and be able to show them how dropping a course could potentially play a role in their progression toward graduation.

If you drop this course, will you be able to take the course over the winter or summer school term?
Your student should be aware of course offerings for each term as every course is not offered during each term.  Winter course offerings are available online.

How will dropping this course affect your financial aid package?
Some scholarships and tuition waivers require students to achieve a certain number of credit hours within an academic year for renewal.  Students might have to take additional credits in the spring semester or summer term to make up for dropped courses.  Additionally, students need to be enrolled in 12 credit hours to be considered full-time.  Consult the Office of Financial Aid to inquire.

The best thing you can do as a parent, coach and mentor to your student is to have and express faith in your student.  Remind them of past success and encourage them to buckle down, get motivated and get to work!  There are resources in place to assist, but they must take advantage of them as well.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The First Six Weeks: A Critical Time in the Life of A College Freshman

It is almost time for you and your family to come back to campus and move your student in their residence hall room.  As a parent, many thoughts may be running through your head about your student’s well-being once you are gone, if they will make friends, how they will perform in classes and a host of other things.
Living in the residence halls is just one way for your student to begin to find their niche and begin to make connections across campus.  Campus organization and community involvement are some other ways. 

Here are some tips for you to share with your student as he/she prepares for a successful career at Northern Arizona University:

Attend the first floor meeting.
This is a critical event for residents to meet each other and begin to establish relationships.  The resident assistant will go over policies and procedures and other critical information pertaining to the residential community, as well as answer any questions students may have. 

Begin to establish a schedule.
Your student already knows when they have class, but they will also have to schedule time for studying, exercising, eating, relaxation and of course, calling home! A planner is a useful tool in helping students stay organized and on track with assignments, meetings and other obligations. 

Relationships with professors are critical.
The college learning environment is much different from high school and now your student must take full responsibility for their learning.  Professors will not give constant reminders about due dates; students are expected to use the course syllabus as a guide.  Remember, professors are humans too.  Encouraging them to visit a professor during office hours could do nothing but improve their overall classroom experience.

Ask for help.
There is no need to attempt to navigate the Lumberjack life without assistance.  Faculty and staff are more than willing to assist students.  After all, our jobs do not exist without them! If your student needs tutoring, the Student Learning Centers are available.  Resident assistants are trained to work with students and direct them to proper resources and staff members in the Office of Student Life are more than willing to meet with students as well. 

The best thing you can do for your student is to continue to be supportive.  Encouraging reminders and care packages from home are just a few ways to provide that support.  If you as a parent or family member need ideas on how to support your student, Parent and Family Services is here for you.  Be sure to subscribe to The Backpack, our parent newsletter for updates about campus life.

We will see you back on campus in three weeks!


Crystal Nance
Parent and Family Services Coordinator

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dispelling Myths: Parent/Family Access to Grades

Summer orientation is a wrap! On behalf of Northern Arizona University, I would like to thank you again for coming to orientation.  You were provided with a lot of information about the university and all the resources in place to help your student succeed.  As the school year goes on, you will find that to be helpful to both you and your student.

I would also like to thank you for providing feedback during our Parent and Family University session.  We will certainly use The Backpack as a means to keep you updated about campus and local events, as well as scholarship opportunities and other important deadlines as they arise.   On the other hand, many parents and family members indicated (in some form of fashion) that they would like progress reports and updates regarding their students.  While this information may have been available to you while your student was in high school, it is not as your student progresses into the college environment.   Depending on course structure, some professors will update student grades via Blackboard Learn.  Students will be notified of their midterm grade status if enrolled in 100 and 200 level courses.  Encourage your student to speak with their instructor if there are questions regarding grades.  Again, the course syllabus is the guide to any course, so encourage them to read that document thoroughly and refer to it often. 

Talk directly with your student about their courses and their progress in those courses.  You will find this to be the fastest method for finding out what their grades are.   You may request a copy of your student’s records in writing if they have signed a FERPA release granting you access to that information.  More information about FERPA can be accessed here.
For additional clarification, Guardian Access solely allows you to view and pay your student’s financial charges.  For more information regarding Guardian Access, visit the NAU parents’ webpage for a tutorial.  Your student has the right to administer and revoke access. 

Don’t worry; this will all make sense soon enough! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Welcome to Parent and Family University!

This course, designed exclusively for the parents and families of Northern Arizona University freshman students, is finally underway!  The first course, Coaching Your College Student 101, will assist parents and other family members in learning effective practices in mentoring and coaching their students.  It will also guide them through issues associated with freshman transition into college.  
Blog posts will be made weekly and group members will be able to interact with each other to share their experiences.  All comments are welcome, however, we ask that everyone be respectful.  If there are pressing concerns and issues, please do not post them on the blog.  Instead, call Parent and Family Services at 928-523-6267 or email us at
We look forward to this new program and hope that it is useful to parents and other family members.

Crystal Nance
Parent and Family Services Coordinator