Parenting Doesn’t Stop When They Go to College

Curt & Gabby SchillingBy now, you may have heard about Curt Schilling and the vulgar tweets that blew up his Twitter after he simply congratulated his daughter for earning a softball scholarship to college. Kudos to Mr. Schilling for bringing a much needed spotlight on how our youth seem to be under the illusion that there are no consequences for the horrible things they post on social media.

From Poor Judgment to Bad Behavior to Criminal Actions

“Youth” in this instance is referring to college-age boys ¬¬- boys that Mr. Schilling refers to as “white, affluent, college attending children.” With one kid in college and another about to be, I’m sensitive to the despicable things I inadvertently hear about college boys and their behavior on social media, at frat parties, or wherever they hang out with their peers. Many of these kids are good kids from normal homes who you assume have been brought up by loving, well-intentioned parents.

When the bad behavior goes unchecked, they feel enabled, entitled, and above reproach. These are the type of boys who might take the jokes, language and threats to the next level and end up raping coeds then making excuses or justifying why it was no big deal. That’s been in the news a lot, too, and always sparks debate. “The girl was drunk.” “She was all over him.” “Did you see how she was dressed? She asked for it.” Rape is rape and no means no yet many will say the girls bear some responsibility for putting themselves in risky positions.

Don’t Cut the Strings Entirely

What about the parents? What role do we play? Just because our kid is away at college doesn’t mean we should completely cut the strings and turn our head so they can do whatever they want. College kids still need parenting — arguably even more than middle and high school kids! Of course, ideally, morals are instilled in these kids as children and teens and they know better than to post vulgar threats, or slip a date rape drug in a girls drink, or get so smashed that they end up in a situation they’ll later regret, but kids who have been raised right are making bad choices regardless of their upbringing. Drink

Why? Because so many parents conclude that when they reach 18 or go to college we are suppose to let them sew their wild oats and come of age. We can’t be with them 24/7 and they have to learn from their mistakes. Yeah, I get it. But, geez, we don’t have to stop talking to them, teaching them, and setting a good example.

Communicate Honestly

Maybe what needs to change is our tone. Instead of preaching and threatening like when they were 15, try having adult, honest conversations about the dangers of social media, about avoiding risky situations, about using good judgment, and most importantly, about consequences and accountability. Our kids will make mistakes. They will make stupid, impulsive decisions. They will say and post inappropriate things. They will get wasted and end up in compromising positions. When parents stay involved and have that honest rapport with their kids, we can guide them before they get carried away and really cross the line. The important thing is that they accept responsibility when they’ve screwed up and don’t make excuses or blame someone else. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good kids or that they have bad parents. What will define their character, and ours, is how they respond and learn from those mistakes.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — William Morrow

About to Graduate High School? Get Ready for Your Life to Change!

Reflecting on my first year of college, it’s been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. It’s such a life-changing transition that I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with upcoming high school graduates.


Soak it all in. College is completely different. You may be thinking you cannot wait to be free of high school drama, cliques, and peer pressures, but you’ll get hit hard in the face with other difficulties and aggravations the minute you walk on campus. Challenges like how to manage time and all the freedom; trying to get to know professors who really don’t care that much about knowing you; learning all the ropes like where to go to study, where to park, how to print papers; controlling your diet (i.e. avoiding the freshman 15); doing your own laundry; missing friends; sleeping all afternoon and staying up all night; and yes, even longing to eat a home-cooked meal with your family will most likely be in your future. You can taste the freedom as you finish your last few months of high school ready to cannon-ball into the “real world”, but remember to cherish the feeling you have and prepare yourself for a whole new chapter of life.


Decide now if you’ll be rushing a fraternity or sorority. Do some research over the summer to see what it’s really like to be a part of your school’s Greek community? If you decide it’s for you, be prepared. Don’t enter it half-heartedly or just because it’s what you think everyone else is doing. It’s a huge commitment filled with challenges and excitement you’ve never experienced before. Go ahead and fill out all the necessary forms, get recommendation letters, and learn the schedule for rush week. And here’s something very important, learn how to accept rejection. Rushing is like applying and interviewing for multiple jobs all at the same time. Some will love you and some will deem you “irrelevant”. Don’t take it personally, you will find where you’re meant to be.


Become more aware of what you put on your social media because as you meet more people, they’ll likely be viewing your pages. This is especially true if you rush for a fraternity or sorority. It’s how they’ll try to learn about you, and judge you. Regardless of whether you rush, however, keep in mind you’re entering a new world where most people won’t know you at all so it’s time to present yourself as a mature young adult.


Having a part-time job not only allows you to earn spending money, it also helps you master several of the things you’ll have to do at college, like managing a schedule, meeting new people, developing a strong work ethic, taking ownership, and getting a head start on building your resume. Maintaining a part-time job while in college can be difficult at times, but it significantly helps better your time management skills and helps keep you humble and well-rounded.


You’ll forget what a TV & remote control are. Netflix will help save your sanity and give you a break from reality!


Learn how to wash clothes and how NOT to wash clothes. You don’t want to ruin that pretty new bra by putting it in the dryer with ten towels and four pairs of jeans nor do you want to turn that nice white new Polo pink by washing it with colors.


It’s easy to find checklist of things to take for your dorm, but here are a few items that may not be on them or you may not think of.
– Medicines. Especially sleep aids whether natural or something like ZzzQuil.
– Fan.
– Lingerie bag for girls (and maybe some guys.)
– A good set of headphones and an extra pair for when you lose them and another extra pair for when you lose those.
– Extra phone charger.
– Extra set of car keys.
– Command hooks and tape.
– Suitcase with wheels.
– Comfortable pair of walking shoes like Chacos.


Do you know what FERPA is? Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. The Act provides confidentiality of student records. In other words, you will be in control of what information your parents have access to. They’ll likely want access to it all if they’re footing the bill but ultimately it’s your decision – your first real adult decision! Have the discussion now.


Discuss with your parents how you’ll be paying for meals, necessities, entertainment, clothes, etc., and then agree upon a budget. No use having a budget if you don’t keep up with it. There are plenty of apps for managing expenses and income. Apps like MINT. Also, if you don’t know already, learn to balance a checkbook. Lastly, learn about the pitfalls of credit cards.


Most kids are so excited about going to college they aren’t at all prepared for what happens if they hate it and are miserable. Being so homesick you want to come home after a week, partying way too much, bombing your GPA are all common things that might change your plans. Talk to your parents over the summer about possible scenarios and what your plan is if they become reality. Don’t put pressure on yourself to stick it out if it doesn’t feel right. College isn’t for everyone, or the particular college you chose may not be for you. You may just need to take a semester off or switch to a smaller school or pursue a different career path like the military, a technical college, earning certifications, or starting a business.


Haley Part-time writer, full-time student and all-around force-of-nature, Haley Burton is a Tennessee native whose style and perspective belie her age. Haley’s writing, rooted in her experiences as a young woman entering the world of higher education, has been published on a variety of platforms. She is a routine contributor to The Odyssey, as well as a regular columnist on the popular career blog, where her columns on the issues facing young people in today’s job market are among the site’s most widely read features.

Currently a freshman at the University of Tennessee, Haley serves as corresponding secretary to the Phi Mu fraternity and an ambassador to the Student Government Association.

6 Ways to Earn Money in College

Woman working at the video rental store

Being in school doesn’t have to be synonymous with being flat broke. If you want to enjoy your college life without taking a forceful, time-consuming job, consider any of the following ideas to earn cash:

Tutor Someone

Visit the tutoring center on campus and see if they have any availabilities. Most departments also have independent programs, so you may be able to find jobs by talking to your professors or agency staff. If you don’t feel comfortable tutoring your peers, younger students at nearby elementary and high schools might be looking for a tutor.

Donate Plasma

Similar to giving blood, donating plasma requires sitting and being pricked with a needle. Each site is different but pay ranges from $20-$50 a visit. According to, federal regulations allow individuals to contribute twice in one week, with at least two days in between donations. Donated plasma is widely used to treat shock, burns and adult respiratory distress syndrome, as well as help clotting and a number of other life-saving therapies.

Work On Campus

Planning on going to all the football games anyway? See if you can score a job selling tickets. Used to spending your time at the library? See if you can restock books, monitor computers and run the front desk. A university is like a little city — there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Visit your school’s employment office to see if there are any on-campus jobs that are right for you. Don’t limit your search by your department. You may not have had a passion for gardening, manning a cash register or shoveling snow before, but you’ll probably discover a new skill, make some friends and earn some money if you hold those positions anyway.

Look Off Campus

College towns are usually surrounded by college hangouts, which make excellent places, find part-time work. Hit up local coffee shops, book stores and yogurt stands to see where you can spend your afternoons working and meeting new people. has online jobs for tons of employers such as Target, Subway and Sears. The site also lists jobs by categories, including armed forces, banking, hospital, fitness and more.

Take Odd Jobs

Something seasonal is right up your alley. Offer to mow lawns in summer, rake leaves in fall or shovel snow in winter. Find a T-ball team or soccer league you can coach or referee. Visit a local sorority or frat house and offer your weekly cleaning services. Great for a summer job but still doable during school, babysitting can get you easy money. If you’re good with kids, spread the word. Grad students or professors may need someone to watch their kids while they go to class; if the kid is asleep that’s free money and private study space for you.

Check the Classifieds

Read your college newspaper not to get the latest gossip but to find opportunities to earn some needed funds. The social sciences department, often times, will pay applicants to participate in a sleep study, students will seek tutors or local parents will post help-wanted ads. If you have a particular skill such as a background translating, post your services online and wait for people to come to you.

Taking On Student Loans The Smart Way

Students who are applying to college have a lot to think about: where they want to attend school, what they want to pursue for their major, and how much the whole experience is likely to cost.

Thinking about finances is definitely a wise idea; a U.S. News & World Report article refers to the National Center for Education Statistics, which found that tuition plus expenses at a private, non-profit four-year school runs around $35,000 a year, or $140,000 a year. Because college can be so pricey, many students apply for student loans. While these types of loans can help make the dream of college a reality, they can also leave new graduates swimming in debt. As a result, it is imperative that students do their homework about the loans, learn how to pay them back as quickly as possible and that protecting your credit is a must.

Choose Your College

First, aspiring students need to decide where they want to attend college and decide how much it will cost based on the University. As an article on NPR’s website suggests, this involves really being honest with themselves and asking why they want to go in the first place. They should also understand that a well-known (and very expensive) Ivy League college does not necessarily lead to success. Future employers and graduate schools, the article points out, want people with experience and a wide range of skills, not a specific collegiate pedigree.

Choose the Best Repayment Plan

Those who apply for and get student loans do not have to make their first payments until six months after they stop taking courses, according to a CNN article. Fortunately, by choosing the best repayment plan, getting out of debt can happen sooner rather than later. For example, the CNN article noted an income-based repayment plan will determine payments based on what students are earning. As of 2012, this was capped at 15 percent of disposable income. As a bonus, graduates who take a job in the “public servant” arena — like fire fighters and teachers — will have their balance forgiven after making 120 on-time payments.

Another option is the standard 10-year repayment plan, which the CNN article says is the fall-back choice for students. Assuming a debt of about $25,000, monthly payments generally run just under $300.  In addition, some students opt for the graduated repayment plan, which is a nice option for those who expect to be making more money over time. The first payments are low, but then are raised gradually so that the loan is still paid off in 10 years. As a bonus, there is no penalty for paying back student loans quicker than the schedule indicates. This will help graduates get out of debt sooner and pay less interest overall.

Pay Off the Loan Quickly

One way that students can pay their loans off as quickly as possibly is by establishing good financial habits while they are still in college. An article on U.S. News & World Report’s website cautions that students should be careful about applying for and using credit cards, and to keep close tabs on where their money goes. As many people find out the hard way, pizzas and coffees can add up quickly. By setting a weekly budget, college students can learn early on about keeping track of their income and staying on top of their finances.

Why Spelling is So Important

Facebook post

Funny, isn’t it?  How many times have us parents seen posts like this? From the number of likes shown, I’d say a lot. And actually, it’s not so funny.  It’s a real shame that teens are too lazy, too careless, or just too ignorant to spell correctly and use proper grammar.

Maybe the perception is that it’s no big deal on social media. What really matters is that they spell correctly on important stuff, like schoolwork, college applications, and job applications. I completely disagree. Spelling correctly and using correct grammar is always of utmost importance, especially for teenagers. It has to become habit from a young age.

When I make a type-o on a post or tweet,  it’s embarrassing and I think it reflects poorly on me. Most teenagers simply could care less.

Is it because they are so used to texting that abbreviating has become the habit? Is it because our schools don’t emphasize the importance of spelling and good grammar enough? Is it because parents aren’t explaining why it’s a necessity not only in school but more importantly, in life?

Misspelling or using the wrong tense of a word might lower a grade a few points in class, but when competing for a job, it can eliminate the candidate from consideration altogether. They may never even know why. There are never second chances to make a good first impression.

So, how do we help get teens back on track? Vanessa Van Patten of Radical Parenting shares these smart ideas in this article, Kids, Teens and Spelling, on her blog…

  1. Turn off auto-correct
  2. Encourage the use of handwritten notes to each other in your home, like grocery lists and a white board calendar. Then actually correct mistakes.
  3. If you are a teacher, do more hand written essays and fill-ins on tests.
  4. Do writing practice and free form writing together at home.
  5. Ask your teen to dictate a note while you drive.

Want to Save on College Textbooks?

cheap used textbooksBefore you fork out ton’s of moola on expensive textbooks, research the many options for getting them for less.  There are online sites who offer cheap used textbook selections, like Valoore Books. Besides stressing over finding used ones, purchasing digital books or renting textbooks are often much less expensive options.

To start you in the right direction, check out the hyperlinks (text in blue) below.  Get more tips on how to save at MoneyTalkNews.

Amazon’s Kindle Textbook Rental is a flexible and affordable way to read textbooks.  Rentals are available for a minimum of 30 days (at 80% off list price) and can be extended if you need more time.  Don’t have a Kindle?  Now worries,  you don’t have to – apps are available for your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows smartphone or Blackberry, as well as Kindle.

Check out Kindle’s textbook store selections here.

Another practical option is Skyo which is a great place to buy or rent your textbooks fast, easy, and cheap!  Like their Skyo facebook page.  They post regularly with useful info.

Good luck!

Thanks to MoneyTalkNews!

As you may notice, articles are often shared here from a website that I love,    I strongly encourage readers to check out this website and subscribe to the newsletter.  Stacy Johnson is the founder and he and his contributors offer a wealth of knowledge about all things financial, from college costs, to how to save money on light bulds, to couponing, to mortgages, and much, much more.  You name it, he covers it in an objective, easy to understand style.

Thank you, Stacy, for allowing me to share your articles, and for also helping me personally! Your advice and tips are always spot on!

Is College for Everybody?

Originally writter October 6, 2011

Last night I was talking to my daughter and a couple of her friends.  They’re high school juniors and lately all they seem to want to talk about is college. One of Haley’s friends opened up to me that she’s worried she isn’t college material.  I could tell she’d been thinking a lot about it and was worried.  After all, kids and parents are programmed to believe that they have to graduate from college to be successful.

I don’t believe that. And some may disagree, but I told Haley’s friend not to think she has to go to college just because everyone else is or just because she thinks that’s the only path to success.  Not everyone is wired for the kind of education traditional universities offer.

I keep reading all the current statistics that there are far more college graduates than there are jobs. Young people have these huge college loans that they are essentially trying to live on because they can’t find a job.  Then, they can’t repay them.  Now economists predict that’s the next bubble to burst and wreak more havoc on our fragile economy, much like the housing market and foreclosures did a few years ago.

I mentioned lots of important jobs that don’t require a 4-year degree and I gave her examples of people I personally know who have done very well without a degree. I also told her how when I was looking to hire an assistant a few years ago, I started off interviewing recent college graduates.  Most had zero work experience, just really great college experiences on their parent’s dime.  They expected too much money and some had such a sense of entitlement.  Fearing they’d think they were above doing many of the things I do every day, I opted to interview our receptionist for the position. She hadn’t attended college but she had common sense and a great attitude.  She was eager to prove herself, and she got the job, worked hard, and it afforded her valuable experience that she used to get an even better job several years later.  I was proud of her.

These days, high schools seem to focus solely on college-readiness.  Instead I think they should be supporting students in determining the lives they want to live when they leave school and teach them how to research what the best path is & help them be prepared.  How many kids wind up in college and have no idea what they want to do, or have an unrealistic goal?  I don’t know a single marine biologist yet I’ve heard about 2 dozen teens tell me that’s what they want to do for a living.  (Sort of like all the crazy baseball parents who believe their superstar 12-year old kid will be in the majors one day. I don’t know any major league ball players either but I know about 100 lunatic parents who actually believed their kids would be.)

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying kids shouldn’t have dreams.  I am saying they should research what they need to do to have the best chance of achieving their dreams and then they should focus and work diligently to get there. If college is part of getting there, then go to college, but it’s not always the only path.  Don’t just go out and borrow $100,000 and go away to school just because it’s what’s expected. Keep an open mind.

Haley wants to be a singer/songwriter which is a lofty (possibly unrealistic) dream that we will not discourage.  What we will do is insist SHE does research to see what steps she needs to take get there, research the drawbacks, be prepared for intense competition and rejection, talk to people in the industry, and have a backup plan.  If she wants it bad enough, she’ll do all those things and be persistent and unrelenting.  If she doesn’t, she’ll have her backup plan.

Ironically, I woke up this morning and heard of Steve Jobs passing.  One news report mentioned he dropped out of college, and I thought there you go.  Steve Jobs’ enormous, world-changing, success was a result of very hard work and passion, not a college education. As the kids were about to leave for school , I ran out the door to tell Haley’s friend hoping that knowing what Steve Jobs accomplished without a college degree might ease her mind, and open it.

Anxious About College Application Process?

I have two teens.  Haley  is a senior at a large, public high school.  Cal is a sophomore at a small, private school.  Some probably think that’s odd, but my kids are very different so when my husband and I made decisions about school, what was best for one wasn’t necessarily best for both. Haley is outgoing and social one with ambitions to be in the music industry, or a school teacher, and she excelled in a large public school.  Cal, on the other hand, is much more introverted, very bright but also very lazy and we realized it was too easy for him to disappear in the large public school classes and get away with doing the bare minimum.  He aspires to go to a military academy but for him to reach his potential, it made sense to enroll him in a private school where the faculty gets the very most from every student and will notify us immediately if he starts slacking.

This year, we’ve been immersed in the college searching/applying process with Haley, the senior.  I don’t know if it’s because she’s in a public school but the amount of information we’re getting from her, or the school, is woefully lacking.  I have been completely clueless on where to start, what colleges require what, when do you apply, how do you apply, how to get scholarships, what about financial aid, what about tests, who sends transcripts, yada, yada, yada.

Ironically, it’s my son’s school who has been very diligent about communicating with the students and teaching them about college searching and applying.  My son has been to multilple websites, can recite stats about various schools, knows what they offer, what their enrollments are, and a ton of other information.  I guess in private school, they have the resources to devote

It’s frustrating and I’ve been forced to do a lot of online research myself, and ask friends who have been through it with their kids.  So, I’m going to start sharing the things I learn on this blog.  There will be no particular order, just random posts that I stumble across.


At the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admissions Couselors last week, representatives from Common Application organization discussed changes that will be implented in August of 2013.