Missouri State University
The Family Connection

Ask Priscilla! What is the “sophomore slump” and how can I help my student through it?

Good question. You do hear about the sophomore slump.   She isn’t a a “new” student any more so the amount of attention she gets in their second year is at a different level than their first year in college.  She sometimes feels like no one is interested in her anymore. She isn’t being “courted” to join campus organizations or be involved as much as the year before, when actually there are probably more organizations available to her in her sophomore year. She also might be having second thoughts about her major and what her future is going to look like. We all have those feelings but for a college student, these feelings seem to be very large obstacles.  Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

Not every student goes through this “slump” but it does happen to many college students.  How can you help?

  • Be patient with her.  She is probably surprised herself at her feelings and emotions during her second year. Help her understand these feelings are normal for many students.
  • Help her to understand why she might be feeling the lack of energy and motivation.  Is the novelty of college wearing off? Do her goals seem too far down the road? Is having to make decisions causing her stress?
  • Highlight the positives. She knows her way around campus, has made friends and is developing working relationships with her professors. She has access to leadership positions such as a SOAR Leader or  Resident Assistant, study away programs and she is able to take more courses in her chosen major.
  • Encourage her to stay involved on campus outside of the classroom and to try something new each semester.
  • Remind her that she can proactively combat the slumps she might feel.  Encourage her to take care of herself physically, take a class just for fun, visit the career center to start learning about internships and careers in her major, engage in community service opportunities and put into action the skills she learned during her first year.
  • Remind her she is an upperclassman. She is not the new kid on campus anymore. Celebrate her accomplishments from her first year.

The biggest thing you can do for her is to let her know you support her and love her. She always wants to hear you are in her corner.

Do you have a questions for Priscilla? Send questions to pchildress@missouristate.edu.

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Meet Justin Roberts – Family Orientation Coordinator

Take a moment to get to know Justin Roberts, Family Orientation Coordinator for the Parent & Family Program. Justin is a valuable part of the New Student & Family Program office. He assists with the planning and execution of Family Weekend, programming for family members during SOAR, and will be an integral part of The Ursa Experience: Maroon & White Overnight, an engagement camp for new students entering Missouri State in the fall of 2015.  Justin is a great resource for parents.  He offers the student’s perspective in a way that is funny and entertaining.  IMG_2113

1) Tell us about yourself.  I am a junior, double majoring in Philosophy and Organizational Communication.  I’m from Frisco Texas and have one sister. She’s finishing up her Master’s program at Stephen F. Austin University.

2) What organizations are you involved with? For one, I am the Family Orientation Coordination for New Student & Family Programs and SOAR. I was a SOAR Leader for 2014.   I am also the President of Theta Chi Fraternity.  Beginning in the Spring of 2015, I will be the campaign manager for a SGA ticket running for Student Body President and Vice President.

3) What advice do you have for parents to help support their student?  I would advise parents to stay in touch with their student but to let the student control the communication. You do not want to overdo the communication and overwhelm the student. Let them reach out to you and it will be much better. Send care packages too! We love getting free stuff and gifts randomly.

4) What’s your favorite MSU tradition?  My favorite tradition is Bear Bash during Welcome Weekend. Being the weekend before school starts, the students finally meet up for the first time of the school year. Whether it’s  seeing old faces or meeting new ones, it is an amazing atmosphere.

5)  What is your best advice for students that parents can share with them?  I believe parents and families should stress to their students to “build yourself, not your resume.” I strongly believe that the college experience is not only about academics, but that it is also about growing as a person. This can be done through joining groups and organizations, but should be done for the right reasons. It is not about making yourself look good on a piece of paper. Rather, it should be about growing and leaning to make yourself better and more well-rounded.

Look for Justin to be answering questions from parents about the college experience from the student’s point of view. If you have a question for Justin, send it to familyassociation@missouristate.edu.

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Ask Priscilla! When will my student be able to re-apply for on-campus housing for 2015-2016?

That’s a great question.  The semester if flying by and it’s never to early for your student to start thinking about his/her plans for the 2015-16 academic year.  Have a conversation with your student about the advantages he/she experiences living on-campus: Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

  • Convenient billing and pay options
  • Easy access to educational resources such as the library, CLAW, and after hours lectures and events
  • FREE laundry included and Laundry Alert in Hammons and Hutchens Houses
  • FREE cable and internet access with FREE computer support from ResNet
  • Meet people and build relationships that lasts a lifetime!
  • Students living on-campus out perform their counterparts off-campus academically

Look for information about re-applying to live on-campus coming to you in January! Read more about Residence Life, Housing and Dining.

Ask Priscilla! a question at pchildress@missouristate.edu.

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Why risk sixteen weeks of study?

Imagine this…

your student has worked hard all semester.  Then, two days before finals, he/she starts to ache, cough, and feel miserably tired. Soon a fever of 101 degrees develops. Their illness lasts 5 days! This is not a formula for a successful finals week.  taylor

Why risk 16 weeks of study and hard work just because your student didn’t take 20 minutes to get a flu shot?

Thanks to the leadership of the Student Government Association at Missouri State University, your student can reduce their chance of getting the flu.   No charge flu shots are available at Taylor Health and Wellness Center.  These shots are prepaid by the student health fee. The flu vaccines at Taylor are the newer four-strain type designed to give your student the best chance of protection against the flu. No appointment is needed.  The student should simply come to Taylor between 8:00-4:30.

Get Vaccinated!


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Ask Priscilla! Besides care packages, what are some tips for sending mail to my student?

Our students love to get mail. Which in this electronic age we live in, is very interesting. One of the first places they go when they return to their residence hall after class is to their mailbox. You see lots of big smiles when there is a letter in the box.   Care packages are great but they can get expensive and sometimes you just want to throw something quick in the mail. Below are some some ideas to consider.  Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

  • Greeting cards – Send a cute or funny card for holidays or just because.  Of course, there are the obvious – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine’s Day.  But think about some unexpected or offbeat occasions as well.  How about the first day of spring, or a half a card for a half birthday, Groundhog day, or St. Patrick’s Day? Even just a “thinking of you” card.  And really, if you find a funny card and its not connected to any holiday or special event, just send it. That will give your student a good laugh. Spend a little time in the greeting card aisle or better yet, create your own greeting card.
  • Postcards –Postcards are great! Quick and easy.  If you go anywhere, send a postcard.  Send a postcard from your hometown, the local museum or local tourist spot.  Find an old postcard from your favorite vacation spot.
  • Magazines – Is there a certain magazine your student likes but they won’t buy for themselves because they are broke college students? Maybe a magazine that is related to their field of study? Send your student a subscription. They get a magazine every month plus they learn something along the way. Win-win!
  • Local newspaper – Order a subscription to the local paper for your student. They keep up-to-date on the local happenings plus, as they read the paper, an  article/photo related to a friend/former teacher/local organization, etc., might jump out at them and they can reconnect with that person. Not to mention, networking! The local paper can be a wealth of information.
  • Photographs – In this age of digital photography, it’s still fun to look at a physical photo.  Find a few old photographs and put one or two in an envelope each month.   Share those great Halloween photos, the family Christmas shots or a photo from a favorite vacation. Also, send a photo of a family member (grandparent/aunt/uncle, etc.) from back in the day and share the family history that goes with the photo. Keeping the family stories and history alive is a plus. These treasures will probably end up on a bulletin board in the student’s room.
  • Sibling notes – Are their still brothers and sisters still at at home?  Ask them to write a note.  If they are younger, send a drawing or one or two school assignments.  What a great way for your student to stay connected and support their siblings. If the siblings are older, encourage them to share with their sibling real life stories…success in college courses, embarrassing stories, success in the work force. This allows the siblings to reconnect as “adults” not just on the sibling level.
  • Giftcards – Slip a giftcard in an envelope.  It doesn’t need to be a major gift.  Just a $5.00 card to a local coffee, movie theater or their favorite place in their college town.
  • Recipes – Does your student do any of their own cooking?  Slip a favorite recipe or two in an envelope each month. Recipes are another great way to share family history.  A favorite recipe with a family story allows your student to learn about many family members and appreciate their family story.
  • Comic strips, jokes or articles – See something fun or interesting in the newspaper?  Cut it out and send it.  Who doesn’t like to open a letter and get a laugh?

Do you have ideas to share or questions? Send them to Ask Priscilla at pchildress@missouristate.edu.

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Tutoring Can Help Your College Student Succeed: Reasons to Start Early

College parenting means being concerned about many things when your student heads off to school.  Naturally, one of the major areas of focus is your student’s academic success. You want your student to learn.  You want your student to get good grades.  You want your student to take the appropriate courses to be able to find a good job or get into a good graduate program.   137456834

Working with a good advisor will help your student make the course and schedule choices that are appropriate.  Learning in those courses and achieving good grades includes many factors. Some of the most successful students may be those who have mastered three important skills.  They understand the differences between high school work and college level work; they have learned the skill of good time management; and they seek the support or help that they may need early in the game.

One important source of help in a course is the professor.  Students who work at making an out-of-class connection with their professor, perhaps during office hours, can receive some of the help and guidance that they need.  Another important source of support, often overlooked until too late, is the help of a tutor – for a specific subject or for several subjects.   Good students know how to take advantage of the possibilities of good tutoring – early in the semester before trouble starts.

Why not wait for tutoring until trouble happens?

Getting help with course work is always a good idea – no matter when it happens.  Even when it occurs at the last minute, getting help with a paper, or help understanding important concepts, or help studying for a test, can make a difference.  However, starting early to work regularly with a tutor – especially for a difficult subject – can make a significant difference.  Here are twelve reasons why starting tutoring early can help your college student.

  • Real learning takes time.  Starting with a tutor early in the semester gives your student a chance to learn concepts slowly and solidly.
  • Early work with a tutor helps your student grasp foundational concepts on which more difficult work may be build.  Getting the basic building blocks early can prevent difficulty later in the semester; it’s a proactive approach.
  • Beginning early means that your student and his tutor will have time to get to know one another. They will have time to establish the rapport that can make a difference in how they work together.  The more that the tutor works with your student, the more he will get to know her strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles.  This means that the tutor will know best what areas need to be addressed and what style of approach will work best.
  • Early work will mean that early homework assignments will be done correctly.  This translates to a higher grade average and less jeopardy occurring later in the semester.  It lowers the stakes for one major event such as a midterm or final exam.
  • Your student will learn early some of the important study techniques of successful students.  The tutor serves as an important role model as your student learns how to “do college” successfully.
  • The professor will see that your student is taking the course seriously and working hard to do his best work.  That message of effort is important.
  • Your student may build confidence in his learning abilities as he successfully navigates work that the tutor may assign.  This may help with his motivation to continue to do well.
  • Your student will establish a relationship and make a new friend – a role model of good academic skills as well as a role model of helping others.

(reprinted from http://www.collegeparents.org/members/resources/articles/tutoring-can-help-your-college-student-succeed-twelve-reasons-start-early)

Encourage your student to visit the Bear Claw to learn more about tutoring here at Missouri State.   This interactive space in Meyer Library unites the resources and expertise of the faculty, library personnel, computer and information technology, the Writing Center, subject-area tutoring, Absent Professor Program, PSY 121 Undergraduate Learning Assistants and PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) in an environment that fosters informal, collaborative work and social interaction. Bear CLAW tutoring services vary by subject. The Bear CLAW space is open during regular Library hours. Business course tutorsMathematics tutors,  and Science tutors are available on a drop-in basis.

  • Tutoring for various subjects by appointment.
  • Workshops to improve student success.
  • Employment or volunteer service opportunities.
  • Scholarship Renewal Program for service hours.
  • Convenient location of the Writing Center.
  • Faculty recommended student tutors.
  • Centralize location for PSY 121 Undergraduate Learning Assistants

Do you have questions about Missouri State and the programs offered? “Ask Priscilla” at pchildress@missouristate.edu or at (417) 836-3060.


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Keep CALM – Making the Transition

Transitioning into college life is a unique experience for many individuals, especially for the student’s parents or guardians. Excitement, cautiousness, and nervousness are some feelings students and their guardians may develop during this new transition! Here are four key CALM strategies that can be helpful when guiding first-semester students, and yourself, through this transition:  miranda article

C- Communicate with your student, and let them find their passion by making their own choices. Homesickness could happen to your student, but instead of having them come home every weekend, skype with them or talk on the phone once in awhile. Missouri State University offers numerous organizations and activities to be involved in. Maroon Madness, Study Away, Sorority and Fraternity Life, and Res Life are some organizations your student could be a part of. If you have not heard from your student, do not worry, they are getting involved and meeting new people! As their college life progresses students are going to become busier and distant in communication.

A- Assist your student with any confusion or issues that occur, if you can, or refer them to their Resident Assistant, Advisor, or to our website. Missouri State University offers multiple helpful on-campus resources. One popular on-campus resource is the Bear Claw. The Bear Claw offers tutoring, a math table, a science table, a staff member to proofread essays and so on. Another useful resource available is the Career Center. The Career Center provides editing of resumes, interest inventories, and mock interviews.

L- Listen to your student, especially when they need to vent or share their excitement about their excellent test grade. Class difficulties, roommate or relationship issues could occur and your student might express these problems to you for advice. Always be positive and supportive for your student, your student misses you as much as you miss them.

M- Motivate your student when they need an extra push. Positive reinforcement is one of the most efficient ways to support your student. Visit during family weekend to share in your student’s enthusiasm of the campus. Their first final’s week is going to be stressful and sending a care package or a gift card to their favorite coffee house may ease their troubles. Sometimes, students just need to hear, “You can do it!” or “Do not give up!” Random encouragement via text messages will always be a welcomed by your student.

The transition into college life is a learning experience for the whole family. These strategies above will hopefully ease this transition, encourage multiple ways to inform your student about resources that Missouri State University offers, and keep CALM!

Written by Miranda Minor, Senior at Missouri State University

Miranda is an Exercise and Movement Science major who plans to go to Physical Therapy school after graduation. She is President of the Peer Leader Association for the First-Year Foundations class, GEP 101, and a student assistant in the Academic Advisement Center. The photo is of Miranda and her mother.



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Ask Priscilla – What are some tips I can share with my student about campus safety?

Our students have settled in to campus life and are feeling very comfortable at Missouri State. Often times, when our students get comfortable, they let their guard down, and don’t pay as much attention as they should to their surroundings. This is true for first-year students as well as seniors. Safety is an area where this becomes obvious. Our students know other students, they feel safe on the campus, and of course, nothing is going to happen to them, at least in their minds. They may not be aware that 90% of the time the sexual assault attacker is a dating partner, friend or acquaintance. This is the time to remind your student to be aware of the world around them, to remember safety procedures they have learned and familiarize themselves with the processes that Missouri State has in place to keep them safe.  Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

Here are some tips to share with your student: 

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid dark and unpopulated areas.
  • There is power in numbers. Go out with a group and come home with a group.
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended.
  • Lock your door in your residence hall.
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your car.
  • Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know or trust.
  • Trust your instincts — e.g., if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Keep your cell phone with you and charged.
  • Don’t leave with someone you don’t trust and know.
  • Don’t feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to do.
  • If a friend appears intoxicated and “out of it,” get her or him to a safe place immediately.
  • Don’t leave your valuables alone while you run to talk to a friend or go to the restroom.

There are ways that you, the parent can help your student stay safe. These include:

Staying in touch

Set up some regular times for communication such as a phone call on a Sunday afternoon. This gives your student the opportunity to update you on his life at college. It also offers you the opportunity to pick-up on any behavioral changes.

Parents should watch for sudden behavioral changes in their kids at college like irritability and sadness, since those could indicate a sexual assault, relationship problem or another significant issue. Make sure your student knows you are in their corner and happy to always listen when they need to talk and to help as needed. Refer to your parent handbook for information on resources available to assist your student. You can review the handbook online here.

Having a plan

Students and parents should have a safety plan that includes contact information in case of an emergency, including campus safety officials. Students should also know what resources are available on their campuses.

The safety of our students is paramount at Missouri State. The university has many procedures in place to reduce the risk of harm to our students. Students must also take personal responsibility for themselves and their friends. Everyone needs to keep a watchful eye on our campus and if something doesn’t feel right, report it to campus security, the Springfield Police, an RA, professor or a friend. On campus we have:

  • Safe Walk – Safe Walk is an on-campus walking service seven days a week during the hours of darkness. Your student can contact the Safety & Transportation Department at 836-5509 to request an escort. To find out more visit the Safety and Transportation website.
  • Bear Line Shuttle – Bear Line offers a convenient and safe way to travel — no matter where your destination on campus. Just JUMP ON from any of the well-lit, covered shuttle stops conveniently located across campus.
  • Missouri State Alert System – Missouri State Alert is the University’s mass notification system, which uses a variety of methods to contact students, faculty and staff in the event of an emergency or school closing. Learn more about the Missouri State Alert System here.
  • Blue Light Safety Phone – Blue Light Safety Phones are located across the campus. If students feel uncomfortable about a situation, they hit the button on the phone and the blue lights flash and the student is connected to the Public Safety office and an officer will be dispatched to the student’s location.
  • Springfield Police Department (SPD) Substation – Commissioned law enforcement at Missouri State University is provided by the SPD. These officers work out of the Missouri State University/SPD Substation located at 636 E. Elm. Visit the Safety website to learn more.
  • Residence Hall Safety - All residence halls have open-entry access between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. After 7:00 p.m. all doors to the residence halls are locked and only students who live in a particular residence hall can enter by using their electronic access card. The front desk of each residence hall is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you have any questions about safety at Missouri State, visit the Safety & Transportation website for more information. You can contact the Parent & Family Program office at (417) 836-3060 or familyassociation@missouristate.edu anytime. We are here to help you and your student.

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Now is a Good Time to get your Influenza Vaccination

Taylor Health and Wellness Center is pleased to offer influenza vaccines again this year to our university community.  Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to the hospitalization and sometimes death.  Every flu season is different.  Even healthy people can get sick from flu and spread it to others.  No appointment is necessary.

  • Starting October 2nd at 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM and daily thereafter 8 AM – 4:30 PM,Monday – Friday.

The cost for the seasonal flu vaccine is as follows:

  1. MSU employees (full and part-time)                   No Cost (paid by MSU health insurance plan)
  2. Household members of employees                      No Cost (paid by MSU health insurance plan)
  3. Retirees – on MSU insurance                                No Cost (paid by MSU health insurance plan)
  4. Retirees – on Medicare                                          No Cost (paid by Medicare) Please stop first at the Taylor Business Office to verify Medicare coverage.
  5. Students                                                                     No Cost (paid by Student Fees)
  6. Others                                                                         $28.50
  • Please note, Taylor Health and Wellness Center does not vaccinate children under 6 years of age.  Ages 6-9 years need to bring a copy of their immunization record to determine if the child needs one or two flu vaccines.  If you have children less than 6 years of age, please contact their pediatrician for information about the vaccine.
  • If you are on Coumadin (warfarin) we must have an INR lab result in the last 3 weeks equal to or less than 3.5.
  • Bring your BearPass Card.  Dress for easy access to your upper arm.

If you want more information about the vaccine please go to www.cdc.gov/flu/.

For more information about receiving your vaccine at Taylor, please call 836-4000 or go to http://health.missouristate.edu/ .

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Ask Priscilla – What are ways to adjust to an empty nest?

A month has passed since the excitement of move-in day and the house seems kind of quiet, right? Perhaps you have already developed a new routine, but those lonely feelings still creep in from time to time. The emotional transition to a home with no (or less) children has its ups and downs, that’s for sure. Here are a few tips on how to thrive in an empty nest. Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

  1. Make plans. Your schedule no longer revolves around another person’s practices, homework and school activities.  It’s time to sit down at the piano, read one of the books that you haven’t had time for, take a cake decorating class, fish to your hearts content or take that cruise you’ve placed on the back burner for many years. Reflect on your dreams and interests and take steps to pursue those. There is no time like the present.
  2. Stay connected to your student. In this day-and-age, there are numerous ways to stay in touch without being overbearing. Phone, text (a favorite way to communicate for students), Skype, Facetime or Facebook are just a few ways to maintain healthy contact. Establish with your student a routine way to check-in with each other. Students have shared that Sunday afternoons are a good time to catch up with the family.
  3. Send care packages  and write letters (send your student stamps to write  you back). They go a long way to saying “I love you and I’m proud of you” and spur your student to contact you to say thanks and chat for awhile.
  4. Share your life with your student. Tell them about work, movies you’ve seen or a new hobby. The relationship with an “adult” child is different of course, so let your student get to know you on an adult level.
  5. Rekindle those relationships that you haven’t had a lot of time for the past few years.
  6. Get involved. Your child is not the only one who can be involved in campus life. Take advantage of opportunities on campus such as athletic events, Family Weekend, and theatre productions, just to name a few activities.  Make it a family outing. Invite your student to dinner (and we know a college student never turns down food) and a campus event with you. For example, invite your student to attend the 2014 Convocation Lecture with you on October 28th. This event will take place at on campus at Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. Learn more about this event here.
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