Post Date Feb 14

Meet Your Parent Ally: Allyson Kohl

Hi PACK PARENTS,

My name is Allyson Kohl and I am a senior here at NC State studying Middle Grades Math Education. I have been involved, and am still involved, in so many areas on campus. One of those is welcoming prospective guests and giving campus tours as a University Ambassador. That is actually how I started as a Parent Ally this semester, because I volunteered with many of the PFS events for the past couple of years. I am also a University Tutor as an on-campus job and I tutor for Calculus courses here. I was a Resident Advisor (RA) in a living learning community for Exploratory Studies, which is NC State’s program for students who have not yet declared a major, and I also used to be apart of another Living-Learning Village, Students Advocating for Youth (SAY). This is a mentoring program for students grades 4-12 within the Wake County Public School System, so I was lucky to mentor a fifth grader, a sixth grader, and a seventh grader. I also student taught last semester for my program and I loved every second of it!

Originally, I am from Raleigh, North Carolina, so I did not move far at all from my home and my parents are nearby for easy visits. One of my favorite memories I have is when my uncle and baby cousin, although she is four now, came to visit our family and visited campus during my sophomore year and we went over to Pullen Park, ate Howling Cow Ice Cream, and took pictures by the Wolf Statues near Talley Student Union. It was just neat to have someone so little come to the campus that I go to and experience it with me. It brought back memories of the times I visited campus when I was little and would come to participate in swim meets at the gym or perform in a dance recital in the old Talley in Stewart Theatre. Now my sister attends State and we are able to experience the tradition of the Wolfpack together.  She is currently a Sophomore and had been telling me for a while that we needed to do the Krispy Kreme Challenge together while we were both still students and I guess this was the year to make that happen. On Saturday, February 3rd we were able to run (but mostly walk) the whole event together and it is one of our favorite things, to-date, that we have ever done side-by-side. I love having my sister here at this University and she is even an Ambassador too! I am so excited at what the rest of this semester holds for me and I look forward to working more with all of you.

GO PACK!

Sincerely,
Allyson Kohl

Post Date Feb 6

Successful Spring Break

For students Spring Break may feel like a lifetime away, but it is truly just around the corner. In my opinion it is never too early to start thinking about how to spend the break and many who are participating in Alternative Service Breaks and travel abroad, have been planning since the fall. This is great! Personally, I like to have a plan so that I have something to look forward to during the long winter months. So how can parents help? Well, I here are a few tips for parents and families to review and hopefully share with their student to make the most of the upcoming Spring Break vacation.

First and foremost remind your student…

Complete your work early – BEFORE break begins.
Finishing all of one’s assignments that are due during and right after break feels amazing! It allows students to actually relax on break without having to worry about the paper they have due on Monday when they get back.

Create an Experience
Spring Break is the perfect time to explore. If your student loves to travel, help them plan a trip! The tropics are hot spots for Spring Break trips, but they certainly aren’t the only option. Consider going north or staying within the continental U.S. One of my favorite Spring Break trips was a long weekend getaway in Charleston, SC. I walked away with memories and experiences that I will carry with me forever, but the trip didn’t break the bank or require a lot of previous planning. Raleigh is a great location for trips just like this; with easy access to the Blue Ridge Mountains in one direction and the beach in the other and easy road trips to Washington D.C. there are wonderful options for students to create their own memorable spring break experience.

Explore Raleigh.
No plans to leave? Maybe your student has to stick around for work. Encourage them to take time for themselves. Raleigh has a lot to offer and with a little planning there are great options for any schedule or activity interest.

Catch up on sleep.
Honestly, this is what every college student looks forward to when heading into any break. Getting to sleep in feels so great after almost two months of classes, homework, tests, meetings, etc. If your student is home, (please) let them sleep, maybe not all day everyday, but a late morning or two. If they are headed into an exciting experience or a new travel destination remind them to rest up. No one likes the feeling of coming back more tired than they left. We all need our sleep.

Spend time with family and friends.
Always our favorite option. Students may just want to come home and relax with their families and catch up with friends that are back in town, and they should. Ask your student, what do you want to do? How do YOU want to spend your break? And if there isn’t much balance, gently encourage the recipe of rest and relaxation. The bottom line is students need to take a break. Spring Break is built into the semester for a reason. Encourage your student to take time to actively prepare for the break so they can get some much needed R&R but also enjoy whatever it is they are doing. It is really important to take this time to relax before returning to finish out the semester strong.

Happy planning and as always, GO PACK!

Post Date Jan 26

Pushing Your Student Out of Their Comfort Zone

It’s no surprise our comfort zones are just that, comfortable; and often times breaking the barrier is nothing short of terrifying for most of us. The good news is that more often than not breaking this barrier is usually worth it. Case and point, during my sophomore year I had the opportunity to go on an Alternative Service Break (ASB) trip. On a whim one evening I applied for the program and listed my preferences. The ASB process requires that the student completes an online application and selects their top three trips and is then assigned a placement. Admittedly, I applied for the trip late so I didn’t get my top pick but was still given the opportunity.

My ASB experience was with a small group of students heading to a rural West Virginia mining town. Our mission was to work with the Appalachian Service Project (ASP) in Guyan Valley to repair and reinforce homes for low-income families. At first, I was more than excited for this opportunity but as the trip approached I became nervous and started to dread it altogether. The project sounded great but honestly, going on a five-hour road trip with people I had only met briefly a few times to plan for the trip, was out of my comfort zone; staying at the ASP camp center among other groups full of strangers for a week was completely out of my comfort zone; and the idea of helping with home repairs to which I had no experience at all, was also removing me far, far from my comfort zone. There were moments when my nerves were getting the best of me. So I turned to my parents and although they understood my fears, they encouraged me to stick with it.

Once I left and stepped out of my comfort zone this trip became one of the best experiences of my college career. I was able to test myself and see that I am capable of fixing someone’s home and acquired a few handy tips and tricks along the way. I was reminded of the value of teamwork and became very close over the course of the week to those I was with. We were able to successfully reinforce the floor and install underpinning around a family’s home, something that had to be completed as a team because it requires more than single person to do this type of a job. We worked together, we worked hard and we actually enjoyed the task at hand and each other. It is hard to believe but we were a group that found it bittersweet to depart after being together 24/7 for 6 days, but we truly came together as a group and we even kept touch after the trip.

I could go on about this experience. My reflection here is only a snapshot of my nerves and my experience, but there is so much more about the amazing family, the program itself and the humility that changed my heart through the opportunity to serve a part of the country that I have always held dear. In the end it was a transformative experience and I am very thankful for my parents and their willingness to help push me outside of my comfort zone. Without their support I would have never taken the opportunity to go on a self-fulfilling trip that created amazing friendships and taught me so much. To my point, whether your student wants to study abroad, go on a service trip, or even join a club they will need the support of their parents to take that step outside of what is comfortable for them. As a parent, I’d encourage you to help your student push themselves and maybe even push a little harder for them to take the experience. Remind them that you will be there for them when it doesn’t go right or when it goes well. Both will happen and both will matter, but without the chance they’ll always wonder, and it is definitely worth it.

-Amber

Post Date Jan 2

Getting Ready for the Spring Semester!

It’s almost time to get back in the swing of things for our Spring Semester! We hope that you and your student(s) have had a relaxing break and were able to spend time with friends and family. With the first day of classes quickly approaching, I’ve pulled together some information along with a few tips for helping your student have a productive last week of break getting ready for the new semester.

Acquire all materials and supplies.
Making sure your student goes back to campus with everything they need is very beneficial. This way, your student doesn’t have to worry about having to acquire everything last minute, starting off the semester stress-free. Some things to consider helping your student with includes ordering textbooks, buying school supplies, and making sure they have everything they need to hit the ground running and for stocking up their room.

Catch up on any missed emails.
Winter break is a time all students look forward to – not having to worry about school as much. However, make sure your student has checked their emails for messages from professors about the course syllabus or other important information that could have been sent out in advance.

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
If you haven’t yet done so, make sure to carve out some time to sit down with your student to complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA became available on October 1st and the priority deadline is March 1st. Better to get it done sooner rather than later. Tip: Click here for the school code and step-by-step instructions for filing.

Update your calendar.
Encourage your student to update their calendars with their new classes, class times, and class locations so they are fully prepared for the first week of classes! Tip: Consider asking your student to share their schedule with you so you know when the best time to contact them will be. Or ask them if they’d like to set a time aside each week to catch up.

Give your student time to readjust.
We know you want to keep your students at home as long as possible, but it is important to give your student time to adapt again. Whether your student lives on or off campus, it is always beneficial to get back from break at least a day before classes start to take a day to readjust. Residence Halls reopen Wednesday, January 3rd at 12:00pm. Taking a day for your student to relax before getting back into the swing of their busy schedules is always important. Tip: Have your student check the Housing website for information and details about returning to campus to be best prepared.

Plan your next visit.
The first day of classes also marks the first day of registration for Spring Fling weekend happening February 2-4, 2018. This is a great time to come back and visit your student to ensure they are settling back in and starting the semester off strong. Talk with your student about planning to attend and mark your calendar for registration. Tickets to all events do sell out quickly. You won’t want to miss it!

We hope that you all enjoyed the time with your students during Winter Break and we hope that you have a fantastic last week before the Spring Semester, as well. We can’t wait to see all of your students back on campus!

GO PACK!

Post Date Dec 18

Welcome to Winter Break!

Welcome to Winter Break! A time filled with excitement for many students and their families. Winter Break means finals are over, the holidays are here, and it is time to go home!

Going home for the holidays to see family and friends is something almost every student looks forward to. For some of us, it is the motivation for surviving the dreaded finals period. Over break it is important for students to take time to relax and unwind from the stresses that built up over the course of the fall semester. That being said, it is also important to take time to prepare for the spring. I’ve put together a few tips for helping your student maximize winter break and prepare for the incoming semester.

Give students a few days to unwind.
I know for me personally, after the stress that accumulates over NC State’s week-and-a-half finals period, I need a few days to catch up on sleep and relax. Doing this while my family is bombarding me with questions about school can be very difficult. Let your student have a little bit of room to breathe and decompress.

Support your students.
Final grades are in, celebrate with your student when they pass that really hard class they were worried about and support them when they get a disappointing grade back. When I get a grade back that is lower than I was hoping for, there is nothing better than hearing encouraging words from my parents and family. If your student seems to need a little academic motivation, ask them how you can help motivate and support them academically.

Ask them what their plans for break are.
Do they want to spend it relaxing at home or spending time with friends they haven’t seen in a while? Ask them if they would like to go on a fun trip, whether it be for a day, for a weekend, or for longer. A movie night in or a day trip to a nearby attraction in celebration of another (or a first!) semester completed is always fun and rewarding for students. Do something fun as a family that will help everyone reconnect and make fun memories to take back to school with them!

Ask them about their goals for the Spring Semester.
Talk with your student about what their goals are for the Spring. It might be bringing their GPA up, finding an internship for the summer, or finding an on-campus job. It might even be making a new friend, trying something new, or getting involved with intramurals. Whatever it is, talk with your student about resources and how you can support them while they reach these goals during the semester.

Gather any supplies your student may need.
Take the time while you are together over break to ask your student if there is anything they need. After an entire semester, I know I start to run low on things. Laundry detergent and toiletries are two things that I take the time to replenish over break. Ask your student if they found they needed something during the fall that you could help them get while they are home. This is especially true for first-year students who may not have realized they needed something before they started school. For those parents who have students that are a little more independent, as a college student one of the greatest surprises is a gas or grocery card to help us save a couple of dollars next time we run errands. Also make sure your student has all the school supplies they need and check out the list of required textbooks for the next semester.

Finally, spend time with your students.
Even if your student spends most of their break trying to catch up with old friends, try to find time for a chat over a meal or coffee. Get to know your student better and learn how they have changed since going to college. Students do a lot of maturing during these four years and I know each semester I feel like I change and grow as a person. Ask your student what they have learned about themselves this semester. It will help your student feel supported and help you and your student grow closer.

I hope ya’ll have a great Winter Break and can use these tips to feel prepared for the spring semester.

Happy holidays, and as always, GO PACK!