College Transition Initiative

Welcome to the blog of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding’s (CPYU) College Transition Initiative (CTI). This site contains commentary on transitional issues, exploring research, trends and college student culture. For more information visit:

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Location: Elizabethtown, PA, United States

The transition from high school to college is a difficult one, and yet, it is a transition that is often overlooked. This site is to help college bound students, parents, and youth workers stay up to date on the latest research and trends in regards to college transition. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Join the conversation!

Friday, March 31, 2006

World's Longest Umbilical Cord

My good friend from The Falls Church in Northern Virginia passed along a few helpful articles concerning college transition. Both articles discuss the difficulties in parenting college freshman. The following quote by Richard Mullendore, Professor of College Student Affairs Administration at the University of Georgia is a good summary:

“I’ve been known for the last few years to call the cell phone the world’s longest umbilical cord.”

What are the challenges ahead for parenting college students? How should parents respond to the needs of their college bound children? Here are two articles that offer some insight and advice:

Helicopter Parents

New Umbilical Cords Tie Young Adults to Parents

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Goat: A Memoir Concerning Fraternity Life

Note to subscribers: There was something wrong with bloglet in the last two weeks and I didn’t notice it. There were no emails sent letting you know that the blog had been updated. You may have missed some good information on Spring Break, cheating, and where high school students go once they “graduate” from church youth groups. You may want to scroll down to see the posts, or you can get there faster by clicking here and here.

I also want to quickly highlight a helpful book that I just finished reading. The book is entitled Goat: A Memoir and is about a college student who pledged a fraternity at Clemson University. Goat takes readers on a journey into the heart and mind of a young man trying to find identity and belonging. The book is honest about the fraternity scene, exposing the reality of the social atmosphere on college campuses. While it vividly describes acts of sexuality, partying and violence, it doesn’t glorify these aspects of college culture. In fact, the book appears to have been written in the hopes of bringing awareness to these issues in order to assist others working on ways to find solutions to the problems associated with the partying culture in general and Greek life in particular.

An admirable feature of the book is a list of helpful discussion questions. The author seems genuinely concerned with the negative aspects of Greek life. Here are two sample questions illustrating the author’s intentions for writing the book (you can see all of the questions here):

Throughout Land’s memoir, many characters grapple with the difficulty of fitting in with their peers. What sorts of pressures do you feel are placed on young men and women? Where does this stress come from? What could be done to combat it?

In your opinion, is the Greek system in the United States a viable outlet for young men and women? Given the long, public history of hazing and abuses committed by some fraternities and sororities, do you feel the Greek system should be abolished? If not, how could conditions be improved?

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about Greek life and college student culture, especially parents, youth workers or campus ministers who may not know much about Greek life. Of course, this is only one person’s story and should not be considered normative for all student experiences. Not all students will share the same story as the author, and there are many positive aspects of Greek life, to be sure, but this book offers a window into the life of one student’s journey and transition to college.

For more information about the book, visit the author’s website here.

To read an insightful interview with the author click here. Here's a sample:

What is it about the need to belong that makes people go to such extremes to be a part of something?

I think there’s a great deal of pressure to belong, to feel that you are doing the right thing with your life, in your own eyes, in the eyes of your parents and the people in your town. Go to college, be well adjusted, get a job, sell something, make money, join the country club. I knew lots of people who thought about which sorority or fraternity they'd join while they were still in high school. It's a dangerous sort of pressure, I think, and it doesn't just come from friends; it’s teachers, parents, neighbors.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Where do students go once they graduate?

Kara Powell, executive director of the Center for Youth and Family Ministry (CYFM) at Fuller Theological Seminary, has written a short article releasing some of her findings from her research with CYFM’s College Transition Project.

The article is entitled “Where do they go once they graduate?” and summarizes some of the highlights from a recent conversation with youth workers. Dr. Powell explains that “the common description of maturity is inadequate. Focus group members have found that two common descriptions of seniors’ ‘maturity’ or ‘health’ do not, by themselves, create a healthy bridge into college. The first of these descriptors was a verbal ‘profession of faith.’ The second was ‘performing the faith,’ or showing moral behaviors (i.e., not drinking alcohol, avoiding drugs, sexual abstinence). While both a verbal profession of faith and moral behaviors might be helpful for a graduate, they were generally viewed as inadequate in fully preparing a student for life after college.”

There is also a list and explanation of the “qualities of a graduate who is likely to transition well into college life.” They include having a Christian worldview; being able to articulate the Christian story in one’s own language; being community minded; involvement in a small group; and having adult mentors.

The article includes discussion questions to be used by youth workers and parents to reflect their own practices for preparing students for college.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spring Break, Warning to Parents and Cheating

Three interesting bits of information to pass along: Spring Break research, a column on how colleges undermine student inhibitions, and a new way that schools are monitoring plagiarism.

It’s that time of year. Thousands of students are heading down to tropical destinations to take a break from partying at their own colleges or universities in order to party where it is hot and sunny. Last week, for strictly research purposes, I watched The Real Cancun, a documentary following 16 “real-live” college students as they partook in the many festivities in Cancun. Don’t waste your money. The movie is not worth your time. I watched most of it in fast-forward. What is worth your time is reading some research released by The American Medical Association concerning what goes on at Spring Break and the dangers that women students face. Dr. J. Edward Hill, AMA’s president, is trying to call attention to underage drinking among women because their bodies process alcohol differently and put them at greater risk for health problems. You can read a summary of AMA’s research here.

A few weeks ago, our local paper ran a column by L. Brent Bozell entitled “Colleges undermine student inhibitions.” Although a bit cynical, it is a helpful article written to warn parents of the dangers that their college-bound students will face. I was able to find the article online under a different title: Sex, Culture, and the College Student.

Finally, did you know that a poll conducted by Who’s Who Among American High School Students in 1998 revealed that 80% of America’s top students admitted that cheating helped them climb to the top of their class? (I learned this here.) Here’s an interesting article about what some schools in New York are doing to combat the problems of plagiarism: High Tech War Against Plagiarism is Coming to New York Schools.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

65% of High School Students Stop Attending Church After They Graduate

On the about CTI section of the CTI webpage, I list a statistic that 65% of high school students stop attending church after they graduate. I have gotten many emails asking where that statistic comes from.

Admittedly, the statistic isn’t as “strong” as it could be, but there is warrant for it. Recent research from George Barna shows a severe drop off in church attendance from the teen years to the post-college years. Barna says that while over half of teens attend Sunday church services, that number drops to about 31% for those in their 20s. Cleary something happens during the college years.

Kara Powell and Krista Kubiak, in their recent article “When the Pomp and Circumstance Fades” say that while there have been no real studies on the phenomenon yet, “various denominations have estimated that between 65% and 94% of their high school students stop attending church after they graduate.” They also report on anecdotal evidence that only about 25% of youth group grads “end up plugged into a church of a parachurch college or young adult ministry the year after they graduate.”

You can read more about Dr. Powell’s research here.

And, you can find other research trends concerning youth and faith at Barna’s website here.