Ask The Experts

The Goodbye Girl

I'm leaving for my first year of college and my mom is already suffering from separation anxiety. What can I do to ease her stress? 

Your question is frequently asked, as parents and students often struggle to overcome "empty nest syndrome" when their children head off for their first year. With 2.2M traditional first-time freshmen starting college each year, parental anxiety is an ongoing concern.

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Foreign Model

Foreign Students

I spent a semester abroad. I'm sure it's much easier for international students to adjust to America. What do they think of studying here?

You ask about international travelers in America with the benefit of having lived abroad. This country has greater wealth, more support systems, more civil rights, a better educational system, etc. Foreign students must have an easy time over here. Here's what they think.

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E-Book Worm

E Book

Which is better, using a printed text book or digital e-book?

This is a question every college student wonders heading off to school. E-books are inexpensive and convenient on your laptop. Text can be quickly searched and there are plenty of apps for note taking and sharing. But do students actually prefer them over traditional printed versions?

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Antisocial Media

Twitter tiles

When I went to school, we didn't have social media. Now that my daughter is in college, I'm wondering if students were better off before social media.

This is a question asked by many parents of college students. Before there were laptops, WiFi and Facebook, there were pens and spiral notebooks. Social media facilitates idea sharing, discussion and an instantaneous connection to others. But like any communications device, young people use it to create their own unique world.

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All Hands on Deck

Ideas

In the Fall, I'll be in a campus-community partnership to help homeless students. While this is a required course, are these valuable for the community?

Your question about taking part in a campus-community initiative is one that many students are asking, as more and more universities are engaging in these types of programs. The community benefits from these collaborations on several levels.

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Ms. Manners

netiquette

Instead of social media with friends, I'm now pursuing business contacts. The netiquette is clearly different. How can I make the best impression on professional people?

Asking this question shows you're already aware of the new expectations for behavior in the workplace. That is first rule of netiquette, being aware of the person on the other end of the computer.

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Mortgage Mania

Home Ownership

I don’t think I'm planning too far ahead. After college, is it possible to get a mortgage even with student debt?

I assume you are going to college to be able to afford a home later, so now is a good time to ask this question. You're in debt and you want to know how to get deeper, much deeper, into debt. The federal government is right there to help you with its new mortgage programs.

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Dream Car

Dream Car

I want to take my car to college. I think it may be a distraction from studying. Should I bring my car to campus?

Your question has probably been asked by all students at one time or another. One of the best moments for teenagers is getting their license, buying their first car, and enjoying the independence that it offers. Naturally, you're going to want to take it to college, but there are a number of things to consider.

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Campus Conflict

University

I'm having a problem with one of my professors. I don’t agree with any of his comments on my reports and he's not interested in my ideas. I am stuck, what can I do?

Your question about student-teacher conflict resonates with all 20M U.S. college students, who empathize with you. We want to help you get along with your professor, but we appreciate your question is deeper and more complex.

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Adult Apprentice

Older Student

There are many older students, (over 21) on campus. Are they in the same degree program as we are?

On campuses around the country, students like you are beginning to make the same observation. The typical college student is no longer at a 4-year institution, enrolling at 18. Changes in the economy are the real driver for this migration back to the classroom.

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Career Comeuppance

Warehouse

The Internet has made entire industries disappear, while creating new ones. How do I make a career choice that is not likely to disappear?

Your question is a relatively new one, because graduates from past decades did not imagine their jobs, or even their skills and training, when become obsolete in the new digital economy.

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Mentor Methodology

Mentoring

I'm at a crossroads in my studies, deciding about a research project. Can a mentor help me work this out?

The first cavemen had to be mentored to make fire. So, your question has been relevant throughout mankind’s history. No need to narrow your search to solve one research problem.

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Loan Leeway

Money

I'll graduate with loan debt that will take a long time to repay. Is it true that some companies pay off your student loans?

With around 70% of students graduating with tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt, your question has everyone’s attention. Yes, it is true that some companies have been contributing to the repayment of employee’s student debt.

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College Connections

Job Hunting

I will be job hunting next semester. When should I start contacting companies that do not send recruiters here?

Your insight into the job market should be shared with all our readers. The question should encompass your entire job search. You should be trying to network with all potential employers now.

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Sophomore Servitude

Part Time Job

I'm not a full-time student so have time to look for a part-time job. What are the best, flexible jobs for students?

The majority of students need to work to supplement their living expenses at college, so your question is relevant for almost everyone. With tuition fees and the cost-of-living rising, a part-time job has become an essential part of college life.

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Privacy Pretense

Stethoscope

I was a walk-in patient at the student health clinic. My reason for writing is I don't want anyone to know why I was there. Can my parents read my medical file?

Laws regarding data privacy can be a minefield, so this question raises concerns about confidentiality with medical records, especially those held by school health services. Different laws govern specific types of health service providers so privacy rights will vary, along with many loopholes within the rules. We'll try to unravel the mess and check on your level of confidentiality.

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Dorm Room Delight

 Brazos House Dorm

Four years in the same campus dorm looks bleak. Are there ways to improve my room without spending a fortune?

Your question is relevant for all students, especially if they'll be living in a dorm for the whole four years. Tuition and living expenses at college are going up every year. It encroaches on the budget for other things, like your home and entertainment. Since you're busy studying, we have researched ideas for you on how to creatively and economically spruce up your place.

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To Plumb or Not to Plumb

 College Tuition

My brother is a successful plumber. He told me to come work with him. By the time I pay off my student loans, I would have been better off becoming a plumber. Is he right?

With the skyrocketing cost of tuition, many students are asking the same question.

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Lend a Hand

College Stress

College is much more stressful than high school. There are my goals, my parents’ expectations, exams and tuition. I read some colleges really help students cope with stress. What do they offer?

When I read your letter, I noticed you did not mention your year in college. This question could be asked by a freshman up to senior. You may learn to accept or manage the stress level, but it will not diminish. It peaks at graduation, when you have to start job hunting and plan to pay off your student loans.

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Blindsided

Blind Access

Since my friend at college has some night blindness, I particularly wanted to know about the rules on accessibility. Is there a law covering computers?

We appreciate a question that is for someone other than yourself. While your laptop is easy for you to use, a visually impaired or blind person will need another keyboard that can easily be purchased. However, who is responsible for assuring websites are compliant with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act)?

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Get on Board

Student

I want to return to college after being injured at work. If you cannot answer, then please direct me to the information. Can I go to classes and still receive social security disability?

We absolutely want to help with your question. We hope this information guides you, along with others who have family or friends on disability.

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I Accuse

Accuse

I've been to many rowdy campus parties. In the news, there are many horroric tales of sexual assault allegations, some proven false. What happens if you're accused of sexual assault on campus?

Our reflexive response is you should be expelled and go to jail. But you asked about being accused, not convicted. An allegation alone is enough to put the administration, students and parents in a tailspin.

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College Culpability

Law

I am writing for myself and my daughter. I need to talk to her about responsibility. What are the legal issues with children at college?

I'm still waiting for this talk from my parents. They just hoped for the best. Whether a conscious decision or not, parents are legal partners with their children. When there's a problem, mom and dad pay for it.

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Charity Drive

 Volunteer

I was a volunteer at home and now college, mostly with remedial reading. How can I get other students involved?

I want to acknowledge your effort, helping local kids learn to read. You also appreciate that one of the roles of a volunteer is encouraging others to join. Community activism has slowly dwindled to one of its lowest points in decades.

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Family Fortune

 Family Business

My father owns a small, successful business. He wants me to join him after college. Is going to work for daddy a good idea?

This question would not be asked in most homes around the world. A son would follow after his father on the farm or shop, with no other choice. Of course, as a college grad you have many possible career paths.

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The Rat Race

 Job

We all have to make a living after graduation. I want to do something interesting. Is that a tradeoff I have to make?

This question has been asked by every generation going out into the world. Your frame of reference is heavily influenced by your parents’ jobs and income. Do jobs we consider mundane pay more than ones we consider interesting? Drop off the extremes of dog catcher and doctor, and the rest of us are likely to fall somewhere in the middle. Most of the questions we field have direct answers, but this one is more about feelings and emotions. The answer depends on your age and where you are in your career and family life cycle. If you were to save this column and read it every 10 years, your response would undoubtedly change and adapt to your current situation.

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Condo Calamity

Apartments

My friends and I want off-campus housing for this year. Please tell us how to avoid problems with housing and each other.

Every student is confronted by this question. It's timely to address it now, before you return to college. Students and nervous parents are partners in this choice.

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Modem Matriculation

Online Study

I already paid for college this year. Now, I'm hearing more about online study. Should I complete my degree with an online college?

This question should be asked by all students. The choice impacts the entire college experience and outcome. Spending four years and tens-of-thousands of dollars for college is a huge financial decision. This affects your life and probably your parents as well. How do approach this decision?

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Manufactured Mistake

Diploma

I am studying very hard in college. Some in my family think it is a waste of time. Why do they think I am not learning anything?

Your question reflects a difference in life experience, not just viewpoints. Studying at college doesn't always give you skills to enter the workplace, which your family have already earned. This is what concerns your relatives: you may end up with a major, but not be job ready.

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Laptop Larceny

Cyber Security

I'm savvy about online security, but I almost fell for a new scam. What are the latest online threats I need to know?

Your question concerns every online user. We wanted to answer you, even though others have written about this. The problem is always changing, since scamsters are constantly trying to infiltrate your computer with new threats. Here are the most current scams you may face.

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Debt Dodgeball

 Student Loan Forgiveness

I will be graduating with a lot of student debt. Dare I ask if I can shed my student loans by declaring bankruptcy?

Your question resonates with all students, so we want to tell you what the law allows.

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Catch Me If You Can

I am on social media all day. Should I worry my posts may be seen by a potential employer?

 Social Media

Students often wonder if a foolish, offensive or accidental post on social media could be considered for a job interview or future promotion. The short answer is yes, it can.

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Campus ATM

Money

My parents paid for school, but there is little left over for me. Without letting my grades slip, what are some options to earn extra money?

This is a plea from all students, more than a simple question. Many students work part-time, while attending classes, to help pay for school.

Campus ATM

Bashful, Grumpy and Sleepy

Tired Student

I slept much better at home, before coming to college. Please help me, so I am not so grumpy in the morning.

Your question reminds all of us about dorm life. However, there are some real health and well-being issues, that should not be ignored. While no college student will admit missing their parents, there are other reasons causing poor sleep. This is a problem found in all college dorms.

Bashful, Grumpy, and Sleepy

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