The One Thing You Haven’t Prepared Your College Student For

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression in college-aged students.  All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Thrill of the Chases. 

Getting ready for college has been a major topic of conversation in our house for a while now. Our teens still have a couple of years before they officially leave the nest, but because they are already attending an early college high school we talk about this almost daily. This means an even greater focus is already being put on college preparedness. This means homework and test grades stay up:; for college. They are aware that a well-rounded portfolio of volunteerism beyond academics is important: for college. Even our summer vacation schedule is dependent on when an additional summer class or two can be taken: for college. 

As parents, we are doing our best to prepare and guide them while still encouraging them to have as much autonomy over their lives as possible. We’ve had excited conversations about potential college tours. We’ve also had heavier conversations surrounding topics of college parties and campus safety. It wasn’t until Med-IQ approached us with this discussion that we considered how important it was to help them prepare their mental health for the college transition too. 

My partnership with Med-IQ allowed me to sit in on a discussion with doctors (John F. Greden, MD, Founder and Executive Director, University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center & Todd D. Sevig, PhD, Director, Counseling and Psychological Services, University of Michigan) to ask questions and learn why this emphasis on mental health during the transition to college is so important. 

Why is talking about mental health during the college transition so important? 

During the call I learned that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. So many risk factors are at play during this transition time that many could simply be overlooked until they weigh so heavily that you and your student is are left dealing with a crisis you are unprepared for. 

Risk factors include:

  • Loss of previous support system and social network  
  • Academic stress 
  • Increased pressure to succeed 
  • Feelings of isolation 
  • Mental illness, especially anxiety and depression 
  • Lack of adequate coping skills 
  • Conduct issues 
  • Previous suicide attempts 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Interpersonal difficulties 
  • History of abuse or trauma 
  • Impulsivity 
  • Fear of mental health stigma 
  • Insomnia

So, where we do begin? What can parents do?

The doctors advised that parents check in with their own level of stigma and their own history with mental health that may be keeping them from approaching the topic with their children. All students are affected to some degree and it is important to gain understanding and education about the realities of college life today. Use online tools and encourage your students to use them to gain insights and assess their own needs. These online tools can help students learn how to track their own stressors and know when to get help. As they transition to living away from their parents, the doctors discussed how the students are learning who they are and who they want to be, and part of that is learning how to take care of their own health.

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with depression and mental health in your college-aged child, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.

Take the survey here!

 Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.

Without this conversation I would have been left without a starting point to begin a conversation. Looking back on my own experiences, I now recognize some factors in play that I probably should have sought help with when I was their age. At that time neither the adults in my life or I were informed enough to make that decision. I am hoping that because of this information our children will not struggle in the same ways I did. In a future blog post, I will share more about how we are planning to approach the conversation with our students, resources you can use, and what our teens thoughts are after the initial conversations. I hope you’ll participate in this part of the journey with us. I truly believe it will be life changing. 

Disclaimer: Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

Creating an At Home Feeling on Campus #AtHomeStores

Do you have students heading off for College living this fall? The tuition might be expensive, but your decor doesn’t have to be.  At Home Stores Back to Campus collection has everything they’ll need to feel right At Home in their new space. Thanks to At Home and Mom Select for the opportunity to shop in store for our new spaces. and sponsoring our post today. 

At Home Stores Back to College

It comes as no shock to anyone that the square footage of a new apartment or dorm room will be quite a bit less that what you may have been working with at Mom and Dad’s place. The smaller space ( and budget) doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style though. In fact, At Home stores have a wide collection in stock designed for just for campus living.  We were very impressed with the selections.

At Home Stores campus Collection

Finding the collection was simple, as the collections were displayed immediately upon entering.  Our attention was captured by the very feminine light pinks and gold accents but there were plenty of other themes to choose from like a Moroccan theme for those with a Bold Free Spirit, Airscape that lends towards relaxing blue and greys, and even a richer collection of blues for those in a Blue Mood. You can check out all the themes and do a little preshopping by checking out the At Home website here.

Campus Collection At Home Stores

It’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed trying to shop for your new space. We kept thinking “Are we forgetting something?”  It was exceptionally helpful for At Home to provide a move-in checklist display for college students and their parents.  There are lots of little things that you forget about that make life comfortable. You can also download the move-in checklist here to see what you’ll need to shop for!

At Home Stores Organization

Things like laundry hampers, waste baskets, dishes, lint rollers aren’t nearly as fun as decor for the dorm but they are necessities and you’ll find At Home Stores have it all. It’s exceptionally nice to have a one stop shop that doesn’t break the budget . We were able to throw together a cute study nook that doubles as a vanity for under $50! Sharing a bathroom space  with a roommate can get tricky!

At Home stores small spaces

At Home Stores campus living

The mirror, clear makeup organizer, basket, pencil holder and photo display all fit nicely on this versatile shelf system in a corner space. Locating it by the window provides plenty of natural lighting. It really is about making the most of the space you’ve got that will make it feel like home. Just remember no matter how you choose set up your space, give it your signature style. At Home stores are here to help you do just that. Click here for a list of stores near your home or new college abode.

What are your tips for making small spaces feel like home?

Going back to College Scholarships 4 Moms

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Scholarships 4 Moms. All opinions are 100% my own.
Family picture on graduation day
Graduation day with my family. We had all worked together to make this goal a reality.

One of the things I love most about my family is that we are always looking for new adventures. Dreaming big dreams and planning to make them happen. In our house you will often hear the phrase “I have an idea…….” immediately followed by a grand dream of one kind or another.  Usually the family member who is being pitched to will diligently listen, analyze, and help find suggestions, weaknesses, and strengths to the dreamer’s idea. If the idea passes round #1,  round #2 will consist of  everyone pitching in, aware we will be making changes to help support the goal. We are always in this together. Sometimes the idea is starting a new business, sometimes it’s becoming a football star, sometimes its going back to college.

Going back to college….. That’s the idea my husband and I had about 6-7 years ago. We were both working full-time jobs, had four beautiful children (one was just 3 weeks old), and volunteering in our community. We had both had some college hours behind us and both had worked hard on our careers but we had promoted up as far as we could without college degrees. We had to go back to college. It was an important goal for us financially and it was important to us to set that example for our children.

There were so many things that could have stood in our way. Time? Where would we find the time? Our plate was more than full but there were distance education classes online and weekend/evening classes that made this dream workable with our schedule. As a busy mom, I found the study time during soccer practices, listened to lectures during school pick-up lines, and sometimes even reading textbooks during late night feedings with our newborn.  Our date nights became study dates at coffee houses and  late nights around the kitchen table. We were together working on a goal and it brought us closer.

What would our kids think? Would they feel like it was taking time away from them? We were careful to schedule our study times and keep family time a priority. Seeing their mom work hard towards completing her education gave me such a sense of accomplishment and I was proud to be setting that example for my children.

Were we too old? We were in our  mid-late 20’s and while that’s by no means old. It was a consideration. We were parents. We couldn’t do all night study sessions like we used to.  It would just have to look different from what we thought years ago. What we decided was that there was  never a better time to show our children the value of education and we wanted to lead them by example. There should never be an age limit on learning.

Money? This was the biggest one. We could make time but we couldn’t make money (the government typically frowns upon crafting your own money). We researched all the grants and scholarships we could find. We had to make the most of every dollar we could find for this dream.  If you are a mom considering starting college or going back to finish a degree there are amazing scholarships available to you.

Recently I found out about Scholarships 4 Moms. Scholarships 4 Moms gives away a $10,000 scholarship to moms, with a dream like mine, desiring to start or finish a degree. You are eligible to apply every month.  The next scholarship drawing will be December 13th. Go here to register. Upon registration, users may choose—or decline—to receive emails and offers from different colleges and universities.

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$10,000 could go along way to making a goal happen. If you are considering going back to college I highly recommend researching every avenue available to fund your dream.  When my graduation day finally came and I was thrilled. I  had a dream. Scholarships helped make it possible. Together my family worked out a plan making that dream a goal and then took the journey to complete it.  Keep dreaming friends! I believe in you!