Holding on to our hope

As we lean ever further into this idea of “letting go” of our agendas for our daughters and sons, there is a point at which we can find the core of our hope.  I don’t believe we can parent without having some basic hopes for our children: hope that she will be healthy, hope that he will be successful, hope that she will live a meaningful and productive life, and our list of hopes can go on and on.

The poem below presents the same question in a different form; an opportunity to see and experience our daughters and sons differently.  When we encounter the invitation to do the work of letting go of OUR agendas – and it is OUR work – we may find that Continue reading “Holding on to our hope”

What’s My Role?

As we consider again (and again, and again) the perpetual invitation to examine the ways in which we bring a sense of intention and purposefulness to being a parent, it is essential that we look at the parts we play in our children’s lives.

In my College Parent 101 presentation, I pose the following question to parents: “What roles do you hold with your daughter or son?”  Another way to view this might be: “What roles define your relationship?”  An additional way to consider this might be to ask, Continue reading “What’s My Role?”

Millenial snapshot…

For parents of soon-to-be college students, and those veteran parents among us, you may find this recent article based a Pew Research Center study of Millennials an interesting and insightful read.  The societal and cultural gap between those of us with children in this “category” and the world we grew up in is like comparing apples and moon rocks…




Saying Goodbye

 This article appeared recently in the Washington Post.  It is a beautiful, vulnerable, and honest look at the emotional process of the transition.

Saying goodbye to my child, the youngster

By Michael Gerson, August 19, 2013

Eventually, the cosmologists assure us, our sun and all suns will consume their fuel, violently explode and then become cold and dark. Matter itself will evaporate into the void and the universe will become desolate for the rest of time.

This was the general drift of my thoughts as my wife and I dropped off my eldest son as a freshman at college. I put on my best face. But it is the worst thing that time has done to me so far. That moment at the dorm is implied at the kindergarten door, at the gates of summer camp, at every ritual of parting and independence. But it comes as surprising as a thief, taking what you value most.

The emotions of a parent, I can attest, are an odd Continue reading “Saying Goodbye”

Peace for the Journey, Spring 2013

As we move into the newness of a new spring season, full of the hope that comes as life appears again in daffodils, flowering cherry trees and the like, I am aware that I have been hunkered down through the winter.

I often, this time of year, am full of the angst born of a hunkered spirit, of finding myself in some hibernated state of mind and spirit.  Spring then, always – and I mean always – holds promise of finding myself again with Continue reading “Peace for the Journey, Spring 2013”

Oh the Stress…

The pressures for today’s student to be successful are astronomical in proportion to those faced by those of us now guiding our children through the early stages of college life.

I think of Becca, a student in my First-Year Seminar course.  As the students talked this past fall about the struggles they were experiencing making the transition to college, she fought back tears about the dilemma she faced in wanting to pursue a path toward music because her father was pushing her hard toward business or marketing.  I recognized a theme emerging from the comments she and nearly all the other students made that day.  Continue reading “Oh the Stress…”

It’s FAFSA time!

It’s time. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is how millions of students apply for federal, state and most college-based financial aid. And because government grants compose 74 percent of this $185 billion pool, it’s understandable for families to feel anxious when filling out the FAFSA.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Susan McCrackin, Senior Director Financial Aid Methodology at the College Board, offers this eight-step map to help parents and students work through the FAFSA as efficiently and effectively as possible.

1.   Gather Your Documents

It is much easier to fill out the FAFSA if you have all the needed forms in hand before you start. Here’s a list of documents to get you going. You should also get a U.S. Department of Education personal identification number (PIN.) Here’s the PIN application link.

2.   Think About Taxes

Parents’ taxes are an important part in the FAFSA process. Getting taxes done by February 1st may be unrealistic, so last year’s taxes and this year’s paystubs can help create estimates. After February 3rd, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool becomes available, allowing students and parents to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the FAFSA and transfer the data directly into their FAFSA from the IRS website. And if you owe the government money, take note: you can complete your taxes without actually filing and cutting a check to Uncle Sam.

3.   Find Quiet Time  

The FAFSA has a lot of sections. Breaking them into smaller pieces makes the FAFSA easier to navigate. Consider these do’s and don’ts.

  1. Don’t sprint. Take questions one at a time and give yourself time to properly answer each question.
  2. Do read each question carefully and out loud. It will help you understand the question better.
  3. Don’t multi-task. Put your mobile phone away, and turn off the television.
  4. Do find a quiet place where the FAFSA will have your full attention.

4.   Stay Student Focused

Parents often forget that the student always provides information. Parents are required to provide their information if the student is dependent.

So when parents see a question that refers to “I,” remember that “I” is the student. “You” is also the student. When questions address parents, you will see questions that refer to “your parents.”  This is where parental information goes.

5.   Avoid Parent Traps

As families evolve, so do questions about who needs to provide information for the FAFSA. When you see “parents,” FAFSA is referring to the student’s biological or adoptive parents. When the parents are married, then the student and both parents complete the FAFSA.

If the parents are not together, things can get confusing.  BigFuture by the College Board created the corresponding infographic to help address some commonly asked questions.

6.   Keep Track of Deadlines

Every college has a different set of deadlines based on priority, merit, early decisions etc. BigFuture by the College Board helps families sort through these deadlines with detailed college profiles and a free, customized action plan. And, should you have specific questions about specific colleges or universities, don’t be afraid to call the college’s financial aid office and ask questions.

7.   Profile CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®

The FAFSA opens the doors to federal aid. There’s also almost $50 billion in non-federal aid available – from colleges, states and private institutions. Some colleges and programs use the College Board’s CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE to help award these monies.

CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is an online application that collects information used by almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award financial aid outside sources from the federal government. Families must complete the application and the College Board sends it to the colleges and scholarship programs they have chosen.

Here’s a list of colleges that use CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® and where you go to complete the  CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®.  Sending your CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® report to one college or scholarship program costs $25. Additional reports are $16 each. There are fee waivers available for low-income families.

8.   Gain Experience

The more you experience something, the better you do. This free FAFSA webinar walks you section by section through an actual application with the College Board’s Senior Director for Financial Aid Methodology, Susan McCrackin. Families can access the free FAFSA webinar 24/7.

It’s time. Go after your piece of the more than $185 billion in financial aid to help make college possible. Use BigFuture for advice and to help create a customized plan for your child. Then follow the map. Chances are it will lead to an investment that provides returns for the rest of your child’s life.

*Posted in conjunction with: The College Board


Doesn’t get much worse than this!

This news story link below appeared on NBC last night (12/29/12).  It is certainly an extreme example of the kind of horror stories we hear about obsessive parenting.  The term “helicopter parents” doesn’t eve come close to describing what you’ll see – maybe “Apache Helicopter Parent” would be more descriptive.

I sense that even an extreme story such as this can serve as a great “check” for all of us to examine the ways in which WE may be pushing OUR agenda with our student.  Can you see it as a reminder to look honestly at the ways you have not “let go” of how you believe s/he should be …. (you can fill in the blank).

Blessings to you for a new year of peace! Dane




The Power of Vulnerability

I sat for a time this Thanksgiving weekend looking at the year that has passed and the little left that remains.  I often find myself doing this around Turkey day because of the concentration of gratitude; gratitude for what my life has become and what it continues to hold open for me.

One of those pieces happened recently.  My wife and I make a point around mid-fall to host the students from my First-Year Seminar course at our house.  The dessert fare always consists of some amazing made-from-scratch brownies and Mexican hot chocolate.  I recognize that this can be a pretty cool thing for new college students – to show up at their professor’s house, meet his wife and dog, and see where he spends his off-campus time.  I know I never had the opportunity until grad school, and then only once.

Our class spends a lot of vulnerable time together, as you might suspect in a course called: The Art of Continue reading “The Power of Vulnerability”

The Spaces in Between

Just as life is made up of day and night, relationships with those we care deeply for, are made up of times of being in touch and spaces in-between.  Being human, we sometimes fill these spaces with worry, or we imagine the silence is some form of punishment, or we internalize the time we are not in touch with someone we love or care about as some change of heart.

Our minds work very hard to make something out of Continue reading “The Spaces in Between”