Helping your DU student manage stress

As we close out week 5 of the spring quarter here at DU, students are beginning to experience some pressure: completing mid-terms, developing their writing, preparing for presentations, let alone taking care of everything else needed to manage their lives.

We as parents are here for them as confidant and coach, but what else can we do from a distance? Listen. Sometimes that is everything they need from us.

Here is a good article from University Parent Magazine about managing stress. More articles and resources for parents of DU students can be found on the Tips for Parents page.

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Article on College Internships

Say you’re the parent of a college freshman. You’ve heard internships can deliver real-world experience and increase your student’s odds of landing a good job in the competitive post-college marketplace. Read more

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Articles to Share

Many articles are available specifically for parents and families of college students. Here are a few articles published by UniversityParent.com that you may find interesting.

Tax Filing Tips for Parents of College Students

What to Consider When Your Student Wants to Study Abroad

An Insider’s Guide to College Academics

Helping Your Student Through Homesickness

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Self Care for Parents

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Lecture Series during Moms & Grandmoms Weekend

Parents, students, and community members of DU are invited to attend presentations in our beautiful Reiman Theater inside Margery Reed Hall, 2306 E. Evans Avenue, on Friday February 20th. Presentation times are listed below. Everyone is welcome and there is no registration required to attend. We hope to see you there!

1:00pm – 2:00pm
“That’s Not What I Meant!”: Non-Verbal Communication for Women
Communication has and always will be an important skill for professionals of all ages; however, when we practice communication, we generally focus solely on speaking ability. Experts estimate that 94% of the meaning we derive from communication comes from our non-verbal communication yet we rarely study or practice this skill. In this session, DU career coach Lindsey Day will teach you strategies to assess your current non-verbal communication patterns; improve your ability to connect with professional colleagues, friends and family; and minimize miscommunication between “what you say” and “how you say it.”

2:00pm – 3:00pm
“Cultivating Moral Engagement and Community Building through Restorative Justice Conferences in Student Conduct”
Current research supports the effectiveness of restorative justice processes in schools as a mechanism for responding to student misconduct and building community. In order to enhance its educational mission, DU’s Student Conduct office is piloting a new case resolution format – Restorative Justice Conferences (RJCs) – with the goal of creating and maintaining a campus environment in which compliance with community standards is a result of moral understanding, as well as a strong sense of community and inclusion. In this session, the Restorative Justice Coordinator, Maggie Lea, will explain the process, its benefits to students and the DU community, and what is needed in order to keep the program running.

3:00pm – 4:00pm
DU alum Nathan Michaels presents “Starting a Business after DU”
Nathan Michaels (MBA 2012) is a graduate of Daniels who will talk about his experiences at the University of Denver and developing his thriving local business, K&N Storage Company.

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DU is getting ready for Moms & Grandmoms Weekend 2015

On alternating years, Moms & Grandmoms/Dads & Granddads Weekends provide families the opportunity to spend time with their student while becoming more familiar with the University and enjoying the Rocky Mountain state.

Our next event will be Moms & Grandmoms Weekend, February 20 – 22, 2015. Activities will include historic tours of the DU campus, chocolate tasting and tours of the carillon bells, tea at the Brown Palace Hotel, bus tours of Denver, and more.

Registration for Moms & Grandmoms Weekend will be open on January 10th. Start your planning early by viewing schedules on the Parent & Family Relations website.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

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Musings on Struggle and Growth from a DU Alum

I’ll never forget the first day I arrived at DU. It was a steaming hot afternoon in early September. I was wearing cute jeans and a new top – an outfit I had carefully picked out in order to make a good impression on all of the new people I’d be meeting. My parents and I drove up to JMAC and unloaded the boxes full of (mostly unnecessary) stuff that I had definitely needed for my new life as a college student.

As we unpacked my room, I met the people who would become the mainstays of my life for the next year. Everyone was friendly, and I tried to appear confident, pushing down my insecurities and fears. Was I really going to share this tiny, hot room with another person? What if my roommate and I didn’t get along? What if I didn’t make any friends? What if the idea I had in my head of “Annette: the new-and-improved COLLEGE version” didn’t pan out?

This spring, it will be 10 years since I graduated from DU. As I think back on who I was on that first day of college, I wish I could visit my 18-year-old self and give her some guidance. I’d say:

“Annette, everything is going to be fine. The next four years will be wonderful. You will make friends who will grow with you through college and beyond. You will make decisions that will lay the groundwork for your future in ways that you can’t know in the moment. You will travel and explore and have more fun than you’ve ever had.

There will be hard times too. People will disappoint you. You’ll disappoint yourself. There will be moments in which you hate yourself, when you’re so caught up in shame and self-loathing that you’ll wonder if you’ll ever surface from it. Keep faith – there are important lessons in those hard times, and someday you’ll be grateful for them. Someday, all of the dots from the great times and the hard times will connect in a way that makes perfect sense.”

My Story: Struggle

My story isn’t unique to me. When I finally found the courage to tell it, I was blown away by the number of people who shared that they could relate. In many ways, my struggle was and is the struggle of every college girl. In fact, it’s so ingrained in our culture that we often forget that it’s there.

So here it is: when I was in college, I struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food, with my body, and as a result, with my self.

You see, an essential component of my vision for the new-and-improved-COLLEGE Annette was that this Annette would be very healthy. Within the confines of my limited perspective at the time, healthy meant thin, thin meant attractive, and attractive meant that people liked you. So, I set the goal of being – and more importantly, being seen as – someone who was very healthy. Because as much as I *would* have liked to leave caring about what others thought back in high school, I still cared. A lot. So I created rules about what I could and couldn’t eat, with the goal of being a “perfect healthy eater.”

I also signed up for a nutrition class. As I learned more, my food rules became stricter – and harder to follow, causing me to feel stressed and deprived. I made a show of choosing “good” foods while eating with other people, but I would secretly binge on “bad” foods. Why? Because they were “off limits,” and I was stressed, and food was comforting when life got tough.

I felt incredible shame around my eating challenge. I was supposed to be a perfect healthy eater – I couldn’t let the world know that I often felt out of control with food. I beat myself up for being weak and having no willpower. I thought that if I just tried hard enough, I could overcome my challenges and really become the ideal Annette that I’d built up in mind. And try I would – but the next time life got tough, I went right back to food, and subsequently, back to self-loathing.

Looking back, I marvel that I deceived myself into thinking that everyone viewed me as a perfect healthy eater – because all of that binge-eating resulted in 30 pounds of weight gain.

I know that not every college woman secretly binge-eats. But when I look back on my time at DU, knowing what I know now, it’s clear to me that many of my peers also struggled on some level with food and body image. Consider that all of the following behaviors are signs of an unhealthy relationship with food, body, and self:

• Feeling guilty after eating a “bad” food
• Measuring your self-worth by how “good” or “bad” you’ve been with food or by the number on the scale
• Being constantly dissatisfied with or ashamed of your body
• Ongoing inner and outer chatter about what you should and shouldn’t eat
• Comparing what’s on your plate to what’s on other people’s plates (and feeling superior or inferior, depending on the match-up)
• Bonding with other women over what you dislike about your bodies
• Judging other women’s bodies (whether it’s hating them because they’re perfect or thinking unkind thoughts about their perceived imperfections)

It’s no surprise that a study done by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Self magazine found that 75% of women struggle with disordered eating.

My Story: Growth

Today, I understand that my eating challenge was about much more than food and my desire to be thin. It was really about self-worth and the fact that I was connecting it to all of the wrong things. Thankfully, after struggling to a lesser extent through most of my 20s, I have now found healing. I’ve learned that an approach to food that uses force, deprivation, and shame will never work. Instead, the first step to healthy living is developing a strong sense of self-worth.

I now eat whatever I want, and I’m happier – and healthier – than ever. I’ve discovered that giving myself permission to eat and enjoy what I want means that I want healthy foods most of the time. And when I eat chocolate cake? I take genuine pleasure in every bite, without an ounce of guilt. I’ve found that when I eat to nourish my body, mind, and soul, my food fuels me to fully live this life that I love. And now, my mission is to help young women discover this same confidence and ease with eating (and living!) – without the years of struggle.

Earlier this year, I founded my own business, (w)holehearted. As a health coach, I empower girls to discover their happiest, healthiest, most authentic selves. Although I’ve been focused on serving high-school girls up to this point, a recent conversation with current DU students reminded me that many college women are still suffering like I did.

As a parent, you don’t know everything about what your kids are up to in college. However, if you notice your daughter displaying concerning thought patterns or behaviors around food or body image, and you’d like to do something about it, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to help.

Annette Sloan owns (w)holehearted, a Denver-based business specializing in compassionate health coaching for teen girls. She earned her B.A. from the University of Denver and is currently working on her eating psychology coach certification through the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. For more information, and to download your free report, “The Savvy Parent: Five Essential Practices for Role-Modeling a Happy, Healthy Relationship with Food,”) visit www.healthyteengirls.com.

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How the DU Career Center can help Your College Student

Almost all colleges or universities have an office dedicated to helping students explore their interests, values and skills, find internships and, ultimately, jobs through which they can build a meaningful life and contribute to society. The University of Denver has six! See more at http://www.du.edu/career.

The variety of services offered by these offices is wide-ranging and comprehensive. Students who learn early that Career Services can help them, and who visit often at various stages of their college experience, are more likely to land great internships and better paying jobs faster than their counterparts who wait to visit during that last semester of senior year.

Here are a few of the things that your student can do at the University Career Center or any of the other Career Services offices:

• Use the Pioneer Pathfinder to begin planning your career path. Learn more at http://www.du.edu/career/careerplanning/pioneerpathfinder.html.
• Participate in self-assessment activities designed to find out more about personality, abilities, strengths, interests and values and how these aspects relate to careers. Go to http://www.du.edu/career/careerplanning/careerassessment.html.
• Learn more about the types of careers that utilize these abilities and interests.
• Explore majors and minors offered by the college.
• Explore careers that relate to the various academic fields.
• Connect with college alumni to discuss their career paths through the Pioneer Career Network at http://www.du.edu/career/networkingandevents/pcn/index.html.
• Maintain and manage an ongoing file with cover letter, resume, letters of recommendation and references.
• Explore internship opportunities and apply for internships.
• Participate in workshops or receive individual help with cover letters and resumes, self-marketing and social media.
• Practice interviewing techniques.
• Attend and participate in career fairs with employers visiting the campus.
• Participate in job shadowing.
• Make use of databases and other resources about careers and job openings. Visit Pioneer Careers at https://du-csm.symplicity.com/students/
• Learn about graduate school programs and application requirements and procedures.
• Subscribe to the DU Career Services blog at https://du-csm.symplicity.com/students/.

The earlier that your student learns to take advantage of the many services and opportunities, and to get to know the Career Coaches and Advisors, the more assistance and assurance they will get. As a parent, you can also help your student by encouraging him or her to visit the University Career Center early in their college career.

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