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Staying the course

Many college freshmen will be packing their bags this week to return home for the holidays.

Those students can feel a lot of pressure when they return home to impress their parents and friends with how well they have adjusted, all the new people they have met and how they can't wait to go back. But what do you do when your child is unsure about returning?

It's common for college freshman to feel so out of sorts in the first part of the year that they begin to feel uncertainty in their decision. According to a 2007 study conducted by University Counseling Centers across America, the freshman dropout rate during the second semester has increased by about 26 percent.

Parent advisor for college-bound students and founder of The Right Fit, Lisa Jordan of Rotterdam said one of the main indicators of how well a freshman is adjusting is the mood and content of the phone calls and e-mails home. Jordan said some students are really good about contacting their parents, especially when they need advice, money or help.

Students will often, but not always, send home great news, too, such as goals scored, an A on that bio exam, the cute date last Friday. Occasionally parents will sense they are not getting the complete picture, but that's OK, their student will be coming home at the end of the fall semester and they can really talk about how the whole semester went then in person, said Jordan.

Jordan said that the amount of change coupled with exhaustion can sometimes make it hard for students to distinguish the difference between feeling jitters and genuinely not wanting to return to school. She said before parents panic, it's important to remember that in the past four months they have moved away from home, adjusted to a new roommate and dorm life, new professors and academic requirements, and been exposed to many new experiences.

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