Grown & Flown: Mom of College Senior Shares Advice for First Time College Parents & Empty Nesters

Kim stands with her family on Connor's move in day.

Kim Bicknell, mom to communication studies senior Connor Bicknell, gives some insight into her own experiences as a Rowan parent. The Grown & Flown series features wisdom and insight from parents of current Rowan Profs, to help parents of new Rowan Profs. The transition of parenting a child at home to parenting a young adult at […]

Grown & Flown: Helping Your Student Through Homesickness and Mental Health Needs

A mother and daughter walk on Rowan Boulevard smiling.

The Grown & Flown series features wisdom and insight from parents of current Rowan Profs, to help parents of new Rowan Profs. The transition of parenting a child at home to parenting a young adult at college is an important one, and Rowan parents are here to help our community. 

A mother and son embrace outside Holly Pointe Commons.

How did you support your student through homesickness?

Our family lives close enough to campus that it was probably hard to imagine our student feeling ‘homesick.’  If that did happen, however, I would probably use some of the following strategies: send encouraging texts at different times during the day, have a set time or times to check in during the week with different formats – maybe a phone call, Facetime,  or Zoom.  I would  do this a couple times a week if needed, but I would work with my student to set a schedule ahead of time that meets his or her needs.  It would be beneficial to not be having check-ins every day, but instead to help them be able to stretch them out.  Maybe once a day, if they are struggling at first, and then move to every other day, then to every three days , and so on to help them become more independent.  If they are living on Rowan’s campus, approaching their Community Assistant would be a great step because the Community Assistant can share some strategies for coping with homesickness and share some activity ideas to help them get more involved and feel more connected with campus activities.  There are a lot of volunteer opportunities on campus and that’s always a great way to meet new people and to do something that helps you feel good and stay busy resulting in less homesickness.” ~Lori Bathurst, ‘24 Parent

A family of four, with a new Rowan Prof wearing a Rowan t-shirt standing in the middle.

What is your stance on home visits? Do you limit them, to nudge your student toward making the most of the on campus experience?

“I definitely nudged my student to make the most of all the activities offered on campus. Everyone is different and they will explore, but it will be at their own pace. I think it’s helpful to set a ‘get-to date’: Get to X date before you can schedule a home visit. I think one month is a good start. It seems long, and at times it will feel really really long for both of you, but it’s important.” ~Kim Bicknell, ‘24 Parent

“No stance at all. Without a car, we were always willing to pick him up but never pressured him to do so.” ~Scott Schweiger, ‘25 Parent

“We didn’t have a chance to limit home visits because our first year student found fun things to do on campus most weekends.” ~Beth Marchese, ‘26 Parent

A mother and daughter look at each other smiling.

How did you support your student through illness and/or mental health needs?

“My daughter has severe anxiety, depression and ADHD. For mental health, she had her meds (locked in a secured trunk), she met with her docs over the phone every month. We transferred her IEP/504 to a college 504. We went to the Office of Accessibility Services together to meet them and ensure she knew where there were safe spaces if needed. We were open about her illness, her AA and roommate knew so in case of a panic attack, people were aware. More importantly, I had her sign a legal medical proxy form (at 18 she is a legal adult) that gave me full access to her medical records and ability to talk to docs if there was an issue. We also signed a form with the Bursar’s office to give me access to her grades, etc so I could see if there were issues. Lastly, we signed a form at the Wellness Center also providing me access to her medical records for her college time. There were times I had to call the Office of Accessibility Services and email her advisor on her behalf but she learned to do it herself. She just needed the starting guidance.  Her junior year we found a therapist who did virtual appointments which was great!” ~Beth Kaniewski-Moller, ‘24 Parent

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Story compiled by: Connor Bicknell, senior communication studies major

Top 14 Must-Have Dorm Essentials for Rowan University First-Year Students: A Parent’s Guide to Starting Strong

As the last beach breezes begin to blow, college move-in creeps up closer and closer. Many students are returning to their own stomping grounds here at Rowan University. However, much of the student body comprises first-year students heading into the unknown as they begin their higher education careers. Outside of books and other stationery, there […]

Past Student Government President’s Mom Shares Insight on Transitioning to Parenting a College Student

Paige and her mom walking down Rowan Boulevard.

Today we hear from Lori Bathurst, a Rowan mom from Gloucester County, NJ. Lori’s daughter Paige will enter her senior year this fall as a supply chain and logistics major through the Rohrer College of Business, and holds the distinction of being a past president of Student Government Association (SGA). 

As an experienced Rowan parent, Lori shares her thoughts and insight to help new Rowan University parents as they navigate the transition from parenting a child at home to parenting a young adult embarking on their college experience. 

Paige sits formally on a rock ledge with pink flowers around her.
Paige, as a pre-first year student, visiting campus.

What are some first year essentials parents should know about what to bring, if their student is living on campus?

As a result of the pandemic, Paige moved on to campus as a sophomore and lived in an apartment her first year. Some items she utilized that were helpful was a foam mattress topper to help make her bed extra comfortable, along with a variety of pillows since dorm beds are beds and sofas depending on the time of the day. I think clever storage containers to help stay organized are extremely helpful. A drying rack for extra space for towels was something she needed once she was used to living on campus. Ikea was a great place for shopping. Target and Amazon were both very useful. If a student is staying in an apartment, it would be wise to start with basic kitchen items before shopping, instead of shopping as if the students will be cooking gourmet meals. Once they are settled in their apartment, they’ll discover if they need additional kitchen items depending on how much they actually cook.

How involved were you in facilitating a relationship between your student and their roommate, if at all? How involved were you in the decorating process?

I was not involved in facilitating identifying a roommate or determining a decorating process. That’s best left to the Rowan student as they discover themself.

Paige and her mom stand on Rowan Blvd.

How did you adjust to an ’empty nest’? How did you manage the emotions of drop off/move in?

Paige has younger twin brothers so we didn’t have to adjust to an ’empty nest’. Rowan was the perfect fit for Paige because she is close to her brothers and us, along with our extended family who all live in Gloucester County. She was able to live on campus and do her college thing, while connecting with her family when there was a special occasion or holiday. Her brothers were freshmen when she was a senior in high school so they experienced Spring 2020 together. She supported them through their high school careers and always made it a point to attend a marching band competition, fall play or spring musical performance, or tennis match at some point during the year to cheer them on like they had cheered her on during high school. As Paige’s parents, we are grateful that Rowan allows her to explore so many different avenues while still being able to easily connect with home when she was able. We also loved that we could attend events on campus when asked because she was nearby.

What is your stance on home visits? Do you limit them, to nudge your student toward making the most of the on campus experience?

We didn’t need to limit them because Paige wasn’t interest in staying at our house for entire weekends when she moved onto campus. She makes the most of her on campus experience by getting involved in a variety of activities so her schedule is always pretty filled outside of her class meetings. I think if my child was leaning toward coming home for entire weekends frequently in the beginning, I would encourage my child to try to commit to staying on campus during the weekends. The way I would do this would be to support them in finding out which activities are sponsored for the weekend. The first way a parent can do this is by encouraging them to check out Rowan After Hours (RAH) which sponsors activities at the Student Center on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 pm-1 am. The activities are student-centered, change daily, and are designed to be no pressure and fun. Your student could invite another student they met in a class, in their dorm, or in a club to go to a RAH event and see how they like it. There are also special events at Wilson Hall, plenty of athletic programs, the Recreation Center, and annual events like Homecoming and Hollybash. These are all good reasons to stay on campus more often during the school year. There are so many ways to get involved and make connections. If a student goes home too often, they might not get to fully experience these events, which will really help them balance their challenging coursework with a the reward of developing relationships with others and getting involved with their community.

Paige stands confidently with her arm on the rail behind Business Hall.

How did you support your student through homesickness?

Our family lives close enough to campus that it was probably hard to imagine our student feeling “homesick.” If that did happen, however, I would probably use some of the following strategies – send encouraging texts at different times during the day, have a set time or times to check in during the week with different formats – maybe a phone call, FaceTime, or Zoom. I would do this a couple times a week if needed, but I would work with my student to set a schedule ahead of time that meets his or her needs. It would be beneficial to not be having check-ins every day, but instead to help them be able to stretch them out. Maybe once a day, if they are struggling at first, and then move to every other day, then to every three days , and so on to help them become more independent. If they are living on Rowan’s campus, approaching their Community Assistant would be a great step because the Community Assistant can share some strategies for coping with homesickness and share some activity ideas to help them get more involved and feel more connected with campus activities. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities on campus and that’s always a great way to meet new people and to do something that helps you feel good and stay busy resulting in less homesickness.

How did you support your student through illness and/or mental health needs?

Teach your child that the Health Center and Counseling Center are their resources that are there to help them. When they are ill, they can visit the Health Center before urgent care or the emergency room depending on the severity of their illness and the hour of the day. The counseling center provides a variety of services and the counselors are interacting with many other students who are experiencing similar challenges. The counselors are specially trained to help them. Students should follow their gut, and reach out for help when that’s needed – to a friend, professor, community assistant, doctor at the health center or counselor at the counseling center, etc. Let them know that you will always be there to support them and that you always hope for open, transparent communication so they don’t have to be afraid of letting you know if they are struggling. Make sure they know about the 988 Crisis & Suicide Hotline that operates nationally. Additionally, there is a pet therapy facility on campus. There are spirituality and religious services available on campus. There are multiple religious affiliations in Glassboro and surrounding towns eager to support Rowan students. No matter the physical illness or mental health need, there are services available. Always reach out when help is needed.

An over the shoulder shot of Paige and her mom.

How do you balance fostering independence vs. safety concerns – aka, do you require check-ins with parents? What’s your stance on Life360?

We don’t have Life360 on our phones. We can track through our phones to see where a phone is, but we recognize it’s possible for young people to disable that feature. We have talked to our daughter via text, phone, or FaceTime a couple times a week throughout her time at Rowan. She also attends special events with us because we live so near to the campus. I personally think it’s healthy to give more freedom and independence to our young people. Thinking back to when we were kids, our parents couldn’t track us, check our grades online, etc. They trusted us to be responsible and tell the truth. For the most part, young people do that. It’s natural that they might be leaving “a small part” out of the story as they grow and mature. Parents know their students best and should follow the students lead to a certain degree. Determine where the happy place is for your relationship between safety and independence. Have the conversations early and often and make sure you are on the same page. Regular, clear communication early and often can help prevent a feeling of being caught off guard later on.

How do you approach spending money – is your student 100% on their own for ‘fun money’? Did you nudge your student to get a job locally or on campus? Did you prepare your student for budgeting?

Our student has a job on campus for spending money. That money is her budget to use for things that she wants or thinks she needs. She has worked really hard obtaining scholarships and works as a community assistant to cover her room and board. My husband and I gave her a car, pay for its insurance, and maintenance. We pay for medical insurance and cover all medical costs. We help toward the cost of travel, some purchases, and some things that are unexpected. When she is with us meals are covered, tickets to events, etc. If she is going out with friends to events, she typically covers those costs herself. Occasionally, I look over her spending to make sure it’s reasonable. She has a savings account and an account for her bank card. It’s good to obtain a credit card in the latter half of college to begin to establish credit.

Paige sits on Bunce Hall's marble steps.

What is your stance on grades – do you ask your student to show you their grades, or do you log into their Canvas yourself for updates? Why does your approach work for you?

We verbally check in with our student about grades a couple times a semester. She usually shows her grades to us after semesters, but we haven’t always been formal about that step. We have never logged onto Canvas ourselves to check her grades. Again, when I was a student at Rowan, our grades came in the mail. I would open the envelope and share my grades with my parents because I was proud of my hard work not because I had to. My parents gave me a thousand dollars toward college, but other than that I paid for my college education by working throughout the four years and choosing to commute. I never could have done it by myself if my parents didn’t allow me to live at home rent free and help me out if I had an emergency with an unexpected cost. Our goal for our children is that they will do the right thing due to their internal motivation, not fully as a result of their external motivation centered on me.

What conversations did you have around safety and socializing before your student started college?

We have talked about our hopes and expectations surrounding drugs and alcohol. We discuss sexual relationships and safety on campus. Sadly, gun violence prevention and response is a conversation that parents have to have with their young person. Students should review the safety resources with their community assistants and ask additional questions when they have them. Parents can sign up for a texting service to let you know if a safety or security concern has occurred on campus. Mental health discussions should also be part of the conversations you have this summer before arriving on campus. If your child responds that they are fine and don’t need the information when you bring it up this summer, tell them it’s okay, you still want to talk because it might be something they remember in the future when they need some help and might be a conversation they can refer back to when they are trying to help another person.

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Removing Deficit from Disability: Rowan Minds Reframe College Success for Autistic Students in New Book

John Woodruff and Dr. Amy Accardo seated together with a copy of their book.

The steady increase of autistic students entering higher education coincides with schools creating programs and services to meet this growing need. But are these supports working? Autism researchers at Rowan University set out to learn more, and they’ve published their findings in a new book. Read more about their research, recommendations for college success and […]

How To Handle Homesickness: An RA’s Perspective

For most students, college is the first time they are living away from home for an extended period of time. This transition can be tough. Here are four ways students can handle homesickness from an RA’s perspective:

1. Plan to go to an on-campus event

Sometimes, just being around people is comforting. Check ProfLink for any on-campus events that seem interesting to you. This could be anything from a Student University Programmers (SUP) movie night to a Rowan After Hours (RAH) Disney night. Getting out of your room can help get your mind off of things. 

Students talk outside near Robinson Hall.

2. Attend a Chill n Chat session at the Wellness Center

The Wellness Center offers a wide range of drop-in hours where students can come in/log on to Zoom and talk about their feelings with a group of people. Chill n Chat is designed to be a casual, comfortable environment where students can share what’s on their mind in a safe space. The hope is that in a group setting, students can see that they are not alone and have others relate to their struggles. 

Students inside their residence hall.

3. Call family and friends from home

It is normal and understandable for students to feel homesick. Sometimes, just picking up the phone and calling your friends/family from home is comforting. Consider scheduling a time out of your day/week to spend some time talking to your loved ones on the phone. Carving out time to stay connected to them is important and may help with the feeling of homesickness. 

4. Talk to your RA

Your RA is there to help! Attend one of their programs to get more connected to other people on your floor. Also, let them know that you are feeling homesick so that they can refer you to resources they see fit. I bet they will even offer to go to events with you themselves. They want to see you succeed and be happy in the residential community, so they will do what they can to make it happen.

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Story by:
Loredonna Fiore, an assistant resident director, senior public relations and advertising major

Rowan Foundation Scholarships: Which Ones To Apply To and Where To Find Them

The Rowan Prof Statue.

Today a member of our Rowan Blog team, Rachel Rumsby, shares advice about Rowan’s Foundation Scholarships. Rachel is a junior Communication Studies and Public Relations double major. Rachel is an on-campus resident from River Edge, NJ (Bergen County). 

Paying for school is a struggle for some. Applying to scholarships is a great way to help pay for school and maybe take fewer student loans!

Rowan University has a system called Scholarship Universe that matches matriculated students with Rowan Foundation scholarships and outside scholarships that they may be eligible for. 

Students studying on Bunce Green.

Continuing Student Scholarships

Continuing students are eligible to apply for Rowan Foundation Scholarships through Scholarship Universe as soon as their first semester as a student begins. If awarded, these scholarships are credited to your bill for the next academic year.

There is a timeframe to apply: scholarships typically open in September and close in late December/January.  

Student works on laptop outside Business Hall.

Before you apply to scholarships, through the portal, you must fill out the questions that gauge your eligibility for all the scholarships. You can find these questions after signing in and clicking the “questions” button on the left side panel. After you fill out the questions, you can click the “scholarships” button. This page will show you the scholarship matches that you are eligible for, partial matches, and scholarships you have previously applied to.

I recommend that everyone fill out the “General University Application.” This scholarship application is to apply for any general continuing student scholarships, as well as some departmental scholarships.

Everyone has a unique background, which may lead them to be eligible for different scholarships, so I cannot recommend scholarships everyone should apply to, except for the General University Application. However, I highly suggest that you answer the Scholarship Universe questions so it can match you to scholarships you are eligible for. 

Students walk with textbooks on campus.

Incoming Student Scholarships

Incoming students are eligible to apply for scholarships through Scholarship Universe after their first semester at Rowan. If students apply to the university by Jan. 31, they will automatically be considered for scholarships they might be eligible for; there is no separate scholarship application. For more information, check out this post by Assistant Director of Admissions Amanda Marcks and the Admissions Scholarships page

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, junior communication studies and public relations double major

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

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Ten Ways to Avoid Getting Lost on Campus

Are you new to campus? Is it your first time taking in-person classes on-campus? As any new place is, Rowan’s campus may be confusing at first. To help you out, here are 10 ways to avoid getting lost!

1. Visit the information desk

The Information Desk at the Chamberlain Student Center provides directions and other useful resources to students, parents and any other visitors on campus! The Information Desk is located on the main floor of the Student Center.

A student asks for help at the Information Desk on the main level of the Student Center.
A student asks for help at the Information Desk on the main level of the Student Center.

2. Tour campus before the semester starts

Even if you are already committed to Rowan, taking a campus tour is a great way to get to know the campus and have questions you may have answered. Rowan is currently offering guided personal and multi-family campus tours, as well as self-guided audio tours. There are also virtual opportunities to learn more about your major and campus culture!

3. Walk your class schedule

Can’t get to campus for a tour before moving in? No problem! A great idea is to walk around campus and find the buildings your classes are in before the first day of classes.

4. Check out the campus map

Already out and about and lost? Check out the campus map on your phone! 

Prof statue.
Prof statue

5. Look for landmarks

Try to associate certain landmarks on campus with certain buildings. For example, when I see the Prof statue, I know I am next to Robinson Hall, and Science Hall and Savitz Hall are across the path.

Science Hall.
The sign denotes that this building is Science Hall.

6. Read the signs around campus

There are signs in front of buildings telling you their names, as well as signs around campus pointing you in the direction of other buildings. Find one of these signs to figure out where you are. 

Two girls pose in front of a sign that gives directions.
Two students pose in front of a directional sign on campus.

7. Ask an RA for directions

If you live on campus, you will most likely get your RA’s contact information during your floor meeting. If you need directions, your RA is there to ask for help!

An RA stands next to her door.
An RA stands next to her door. Most RA’s doors have multiple name tags like this.

8. Stop into Admissions at Savitz Hall

There are Admissions Ambassadors that work the front desk for Admissions. The Ambassadors give tours of Rowan. They know where most buildings are, so they can give you directions.

A friendly face at Admissions gives someone a pamphlet.
A friendly face at Admissions can give you directions if you need help.

9. Find a PROS member

PROS (Peer Referral and Orientation Staff) are the staff members in the yellow polos that you see at Orientation and during Welcome Week. They don’t wear yellow polos during the school year, but they do wear big braids on their bags to identify themselves. PROS members are trained on how to answer questions from new students and families, including where buildings are located! If you see a PROS member with a braid on their bag, you can ask them any questions you may have. 

A PROS member leads her orientation group.
A PROS member leads her orientation group. The brown, yellow and green braid on her bag shows she is a PROS member.

10. Stop in the Welcome Center on Rowan Boulevard

The Welcome Center is located at the end of Rowan Boulevard. Staff members know the layout of campus. If you are lost on that end of campus, popping in there and asking for directions can be helpful!

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, junior communication studies and public relations double major

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Advice From a Rowan RA on the Residence Hall Experience

Exterior shot of Chestnut Hall Building

Today we speak with Alex Brown, a senior Music Industry major and first-time resident assistant (RA) at Chestnut Hall.

What advice do you have for incoming first years or transfers living in residence halls?

Definitely do not be afraid to try something out. If there is something that peaks your interest even a little bit and you feel like you can manage that with your course load, or even if you think you can’t, at least give it a shot. One, you’ll meet the people who run it; two, learn more about it; and three, you can say that you gave it your best shot.

There are people who leave after four years regretting not joining a club or being more involved on campus. 

What advice do you have for students who choose to live in a residence hall?

It’s a great experience, but it’s also something where you get what you put in. I highly recommend talking to as many new people as you can. You never know who is going to be your next best friend or resource for the rest of your college career.

Alex stands on the steps of Bunce Hall.

Do you have any advice for students dealing with homesickness?

You’ll definitely feel homesick the first few weeks, but Rowan does a lot of welcome week events where you can start immersing yourself with all the opportunities Rowan has to offer. Put yourself out there, go to events, go to Rowan After Hours (RAH) events every weekend, walk around, learn more about the campus and you’ll start to fit in to the environment. If you put in the effort to be a part of the community, the community will welcome you with open arms. 

Can you tell us about some of the best parts of Chestnut Hall?

Chestnut Hall is huge. It’s on the bigger end of the first-year dorms. Because of that, there are a lot of people you see on a daily basis. The space allows for more connections and friendships to be made without having to go too far.

Alex sits on the steps of Bunce Hall.

How would you describe the proximity to the academic buildings?

The way Chestnut is placed, you have a lot of different things that can help you. Chestnut has a parking lot for first-year students with access to a car. It’s a reasonable walk to Rowan Boulevard where there are a lot of restaurants. It’s also just a great hangout area for Rowan students and close to other first-year buildings.

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Story by:
Caitlyn Dickinson, senior public relations and advertising major

Photography by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major 

First Year Dorm Survival Kit

Exterior shot of Holly Pointe Commons.

Don’t know what to pack for your dorm? We’ve got you covered. Take a look at this list we’ve compiled to help you prepare for your first year. 

Interior shot of a Holly Pointe Commons dorm room.
  1. Storage. Whether it’s bins or under-the-bed trays, it’s always a good idea to make sure everything has its own place. Storage containers will also help to keep your dorm clean and leave more room for yourself. 

  2. Desk Lamp. Keep your workspace bright for maximum productivity. 

  3. Power Strips. Since Rowan’s dorms don’t allow extension cords, it’s important to pack power strips so you’ll never run out of outlets and can keep all your electronics charged. 

  4. Aspirin or other pain relievers. It’s always good to be prepared, you never know when a headache could occur.

  5. Posters/Art. Keep your dorm totally you. Express yourself!

  6. Fan. Remember to stay cool. Research shows a cool room helps you maintain sleep throughout the night. 

  7. Laundry Basket. It keeps your clothes off the floor and it’s easy to carry your laundry. 

  8. All-purpose Cleaner and Paper Towels. Don’t let dust collect, a clean space is a comfortable space. 

  9. Umbrella. Don’t get stuck walking to class wet in the rain. 

  10. Calendar/Planner. Stay up to date with your assignments and schedule. With all this new freedom, it’s easy to fall behind. 

Start your Rowan career off on the right foot. If you still don’t feel prepared, there are plenty of great resources online (like this post) to help you out. See you soon, Profs!

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Story by:
Caitlyn Dickinson, senior public relations major

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How to Apply for Scholarships at Rowan University

Admissions counselor Amanda Marcks explains how scholarships work at Rowan and shares how prospective students can earn more money for college. Are you a continuing Rowan student? Check out our other story on scholarships for current students here

Reviewed for accuracy and updated October 2023. 

You’re probably asking yourself, “Why can’t I find a scholarship application for Rowan?!” At Rowan, we do not have a separate scholarship application. 

If you apply to Rowan before January 31, you will be reviewed for both admission and for a potential scholarship at the same time. We are test optional, meaning we are not going to be using SAT or ACT to determine merit scholarship eligibility. Instead, we will be taking a close look at your high school transcript and evaluating courses taken, grades received for those courses, and your overall GPA to determine if you are eligible for a merit scholarship.

A student works on his laptop in the Student Center.

Our merit scholarships range from $3,500 to $9,000, and they are annual as long as you maintain a 2.5 GPA while here at Rowan. When reviewing different packages from other colleges and universities, you always want to read the fine print to see if a scholarship is annual or a one-time transaction. 

Along with merit scholarships, we are also on RaiseMe, which is a microscholarship platform that awards students for their achievements. If you are a high school freshman, sophomore or junior, I encourage you to check the site out and put a profile together! By doing the things you’re already doing, you can earn scholarship money for taking an honors course, getting an A in a college prep class, volunteering, visiting Rowan, and many more. 

Two students walk on campus.

Merit scholarships and RaiseMe scholarships are not stackable; it is one or the other. At Rowan, we will always award you the most amount of money. So, if you earned a $9,000 merit scholarship, and you are getting $5,000 from RaiseMe, you will not get a total of $14,000, you will get $9,000 since that is the highest amount. 

Scholarships are a great way to help reduce the cost of attending Rowan. Read more about the scholarships and awards we offer here. If you have any questions regarding scholarships, please feel free to contact our office at admissions@rowan.edu.

Headshot of Amanda Marcks.
Author Amanda Marcks, Assistant Director of Admissions

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Story by:
Amanda Marcks, Assistant Director of Admissions

Header photo by:
Anthony Raisley, senior history major

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I’m Not Sure What to Major in, is That Normal?

I’m Not Sure What to Major in, is That Normal?

Outside shot of Welcome Center.

Admissions counselor Amanda Marcks dispels a myth about majors and details a unique Rowan program called Exploratory Studies that’s designed for undecided students. 

Deciding on a college major can be really intimidating, especially when there are so many options to choose from! At Rowan we have more than 80 different majors ranging from all areas of interest.

Student studies outside on campus.

Some students who apply to college know exactly what they want to study and what they want to pursue as a career, and others don’t, which is totally normal.

There is a misconception out there that applying to college undecided will hurt their chances of being admitted, make them ineligible for scholarship and financial aid, and just look bad on a college application — which is all untrue. 

As I am writing this, I am reflecting on my own college experience and as a 17 year old, applying to college, I had no idea what I wanted to study! I was afraid to admit that to my parents because I didn’t know how they would react to me saying “I know college is for me, but I’m not sure what my path looks like.” I remember them being so supportive in my decision and talked through all of my options. 

At Rowan, we have an AMAZING program called Exploratory Studies (ES), which is our undeclared major here at Rowan. What makes this program unique and different from other undecided programs out there is that it is structured and there is a layer of support.

Students talk inside the Student Center.

Every ES student will meet with an academic advisor, who kind of acts like a high school counselor, and they will sit down and go over their interests. The advisor will then put a schedule together that gives the student an opportunity to take courses in different areas so they can see if it is something they want to pursue further as a possible major. 

Students who start off as an ES major will not graduate with an ES major. At the end of their first semester, sophomore year, they will decide what major they wish to pursue. Applying for Exploratory Studies is not frowned upon in admission, we don’t look at an ES applicant any differently than a student applying for Biological Sciences or Law and Justice Studies for example. It will not affect any potential merit scholarship or financial aid eligibility. 

Two students in denim jackets talk and walk on campus.

So, if you are unsure of what major you want to pursue, you’re not alone and it is ok not to know! You have time, support, and resources available to you here at Rowan. If you have any questions about majors, feel free to contact the Admissions office at admissions@rowan.edu.

Amanda Marcks sits on a campus table and chair set.
Author and Admissions Assistant Director Amanda Marcks

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Amanda Marcks, Assistant Director of Admissions

Full-Circle Moment: Communications Alumna Finds New Role at Rowan as Parent Advocate

Wilson Hall, on the campus of Rowan University

Two generations of #RowanPROUD alumni live in the Wilner household. 

Lisa, from West Deptford (Gloucester County), earned her degree from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in Communications — with a minor in Advertising and concentration in Marketing — in 1986. Her son, Ben, graduated with a Music degree in 2018 and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Higher Education at the College of Education

Bunce Hall at Rowan University
Lisa Ann Wilner graduated from Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, in 1986.

Lisa’s seasoned career included high-level management roles among nonprofits such as the Children’s Miracle Network and the Arthritis Foundation and production credits for Warner Brothers and Suburban Cable (now Comcast). 

“I had access to things because Rowan was on my résumé,” Lisa said. “At that point I was competing with students from Syracuse and other [top-tier communication] schools.”

When it came time for her son to choose a college, Lisa’s alma mater was one of a few on Ben’s radar. He was also accepted to nearby Temple and received scholarship money from several other universities. But it was a chance meeting with John Woodruff, director of the Academic Success Center, that changed everything for Ben and soon, for Lisa, too.

“When [Ben] came to the Accepted Students Reception, and he sat down with John, he said, ‘They have the support systems here that I need to be successful.’ And obviously there are because he graduated magna cum laude,” Lisa proudly shared. 

As a student with disabilities, Ben required individualized help for his specific needs, and the Academic Success Center was there to guide him. He utilized extra test-taking time in the Testing Center and sought the help of an academic coach. The Academic Success Center coordinated with the the Music department, which took great care in pairing Ben with an appropriate advisor. Lisa also noted that although Ben ultimately opted to commute, the Center had matched him with a roommate.

“These are steps above and beyond that Rowan does. What I have seen here through the Academic Success Center has just been outstanding,” she said.  

Lisa is a featured speaker for the Academic Success Center’s College Prep Transition Conference and a parent network member with Rowan’s Autism PATH program, which aims to strengthen employment outcomes and networking opportunities for neurodiverse students. 

Lisa and Ben Wilner, both Rowan alumni, at their home
Ben Wilner ’18 (left) and Lisa Ann Wilner at home. Ben is pursuing his master’s degree at the College of Education. Lisa speaks at parents’ groups and conferences for Rowan’s Academic Success Center.

“What I’ve seen [at Rowan] in the last four years, as a parent who sat through IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings for 14 years … I have never seen services like exist here. They may exist at other places, but it’s done right here. I talk to parents’ groups. Ben talks to high school students for New Jersey’s Dare to Dream conferences every year. He talks to students and says ‘You can go to college, this is the route to get there.’”

Lisa shared that, through his own academic advisor experience, Ben enrolled in the Higher Education advising track program so he could help fellow students down the road. In addition to his coursework, he’s now working as a part-time academic advisor at an area community college. She said there is “no doubt in [her] mind” Ben will find employment after earning his graduate degree this spring. Lisa also hopes Ben will eventually complete his doctorate in music theory after his successful undergraduate work in Rowan’s “incredible” music program.

“Rowan’s growth and support of all students make me incredibly proud to be an [alumna],” she said.

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Success For All: Support Systems at Rowan and Where to Find Them

If your student has a documented disability, sending them to college without an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may feel downright scary. 

Lisa Wilner, parent of a College of Education graduate student in the Higher Education program, wants to flip the script. 

“[Parents] need to understand that universities are not abandoning the IEP resources that your child had,” she said. “Your job is to teach your child to use the resources that exist and to find the proper university for your major that has the resources. Rowan has them.” 

Lisa is a featured speaker for the Academic Success Center’s College Prep Transition Conference and a parent network member with Rowan’s Autism PATH program, which aims to strengthen employment outcomes and networking opportunities for neurodiverse students and alumni. 

Lisa’s tips, gleaned from five years at Rowan with her son, Ben — who also earned his undergraduate degree in Music from the College of Performing Arts — offer a parent’s take into the university’s academic and wellness resources.

  • “If you have a student with a disability, you should register them with the Academic Success Center, even if you don’t think they’ll need it. If they think they can get extra test-taking time at the Testing Center, and they didn’t register and they ask the professor, they’re still going to have to take that test. It’s not like they can change it instantly. To register with the Academic Success Center, they need their senior year or [most recent] documentation of disability.” 

  • “I highly recommend the College Compass [transition to college] program. Students come in early, before the rest of freshmen students, and they get familiar with the school. They get comfortable, before everything starts to happen. And whether your student is on the [autism] spectrum, has ADD, has emotional issues, no matter what challenges, it gives them a comfort zone within the school.”

  • “Register with Academic Success Center to work with an academic coach. I look at it as an insurance policy. If they never use it, that’s wonderful. But if they need it and you didn’t register them, you’re going to have issues because you can’t go backwards.”

  • “This is for all students — drop-in and math tutoring and writing labs, all students have [access to] those. We just have to teach our children to utilize the services.” 

  • “[Students] have to build relationship with professors. Meet your professors. They have to know who you are by name. They have to go to their office hours. Get their email. When your student gets their accommodation letter, give it to the professor on day one, trust your student to do that.”

  • “Your student needs to utilize Blackboard and check their email. I get more calls from parents saying my son’s crashing because he never checked his email. Some students are really good about that, others aren’t. A lot of professors [also] communicate through smartphones.” 

  • “The first two weeks of the semester and right before finals, your student will be freaking out. They will be a stress mess. So whatever their stress relief is, tell them to do it … it could be the gym or to just breathe. Rowan has something that is very unique — they have one counselor [at the Wellness Center] who specializes with working with students on the [autism] spectrum, ADD and such.”
Lisa Ann Wilner with son Ben Wilner at home
Lisa Ann Wilner with son Ben (left) at home.

Lisa’s final tips: “Your student knows more than you think they know. You just have to get them to advocate for themselves. At this point, we’re letting the student go. We’re their emotional support and their encouragement. Rowan is their scholastic support.”

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Family Fun While Visiting Your Rowan Student

Blonde female student takes a selfie at a sunflower field near Rowan University

Dr. Heidi L. Newell, parent of a Rowan sophomore, shares her insight on how to make fun family memories while visiting your Rowan University student on campus. 

You moved them in, now what do you do for a little fun and bonding time? These are some on-campus or local activities my family has tried that are worthwhile. Note: some of these events require an admission fee or even a reservation.

Take a tour of the Hollybush mansion on campus. It was the site of the historic 1967 summit meeting between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin, and it was also the home for Rowan University presidents until about 20 years ago.

Line of people wait to enter the historic brick Hollybush Mansion at Rowan University

Feeling sporty? Take a Rec Center class with your student. This summer I took a spin class with my daughter and survived! If you’d like to get into some school spirit, attend an athletics event where you might run into our mascot, Whoo RU!

Attend a College of Performing Arts event. I recommend the annual Jazz Festival Concert. There are many amazing student and faculty productions such as theatre, art shows and concerts.7 women wearing purple dresses on stage raise their arms at a production held at Rowan University

Sit back and relax in our own Edelman Planetarium and learn about what your student sees in the sky above campus.

a row of student sit at the Rowan University planetarium, looking up at a presentation

Want to get your hands dirty and find out what roamed the campus long before your student did? Try the Edelman Fossil Park and bring home your very own fossil.

5 people work independently to dig in the mud at the Rowan University Fossil Park

Rowan has a terrific program called Rowan After Hours (RAH) that offers an alternative to off-campus parties. My daughter and I attended a “Stranger Things” event with many cool activities inspired by one of our favorite shows.

Just off campus is the Heritage Glass Museum where you can learn more about the origin of the Glassboro name.

Glassboro is our second home and we’ve attended many ‘boro events. Some of our favorites happen right off campus such as the annual tree lighting or live free music nights with food trucks on the green.

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Vegetarian Eating at Rowan

Heidi Newell in the Chamberlain Student Center Marketplace cafe

Author Heidi Newell at the Marketplace in Chamberlain Student Center

My daughter and I decided to eat a vegetarian diet about four years ago. It’s not always easy finding a variety of options when go out to eat, so we wondered what she would eat her freshman year at Rowan. I interviewed her for this blog, and her number one tip is customization! Hopefully, these places and tips will help your vegetarian or vegan student. 

🥬 Glassworks in Holly Pointe Commons (HPC): the pizza and salad bars are always available. Students can also make their own omelets or paninis. Don’t forget to visit the many stations for add-ins or condiments to spice up any meal.

🥬 The Starbucks in HPC: accepts the dining card as a meal swipe and there are vegetarian/vegan options (i.e., a beverage and food option counts as one swipe).

🥬 The student Rec Center: SHAKE’D UP is a hidden gem that offers customizable fresh fruit smoothies available for a meal swipe.

Author Heidi Newell, parent of a Rowan sophomore🥬 The Student Center: students use an app called Tapingo to place several orders at several kiosks so everything is made to order. About once a month, there is a pop-up kiosk voted in by students. For example, last year there were kiosks devoted to salads, soups, sandwiches and pasta. Check out the bean and cheese quesadillas at Sono; Freshens for a kale Caesar flatbread wrap; Jersey Mike’s for a veggie sub that comes with chips, cookies or fruit; and Bowl Life for vegans specializing in beans, grains and veggies in a bowl, of course!

🥬 Downtown: several local restaurants with vegetarian options accept the Rowan dining card. On Saturdays and Sundays, Ry’s Bagels accepts meal swipes for breakfast. Newly opened Monarch Diner has an entire menu page full of vegetarian options!

Feel free to talk to our head dietician, Melissa (Hudock) Eaton at Dining Services, about individual dietary needs and preferences. 

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Story by:
Dr. Heidi L. Newell, parent of a Rowan sophomore

Edited by:
Justin Borelli, senior advertising major

Rowan University Application Timeline

Two young women stand under a brown and gold school colors balloon arch at Rowan University at Accepted Students Day.

Today we feature insight from admissions counselor Amanda Marcks, who has been an assistant director of admissions at Rowan since 2017. She reviews first-year applications (formerly known as freshmen applications), and was previously an admissions representative at Ocean County College. Amanda was a transfer student to Rowan University and graduated in 2015 with a bachelor of arts in communication studies. 

Story reviewed for accuracy October 2023; first published 2019. 

At Rowan University, we review applications on a rolling basis. What that means is once I receive all the required documents needed in an application, I will review the complete application and send out a decision. Since we review applications this way, we do not have Early Action or Early Decision.

Below is a timeline of the Rowan application and when your student should expect a decision from the university!

Amanda Marcks smiles in outdoor sunshine under a gazebo on the Rowan University campus.

August

The application is available to all students interested in applying to Rowan. Students have the option to apply via Common App, Coalition App, or through our Rowan University application. There is no preference when it comes to the application and each application asks the same questions. Students don’t necessarily have to submit their application as soon as it becomes available, but it is a good idea to start looking it over and thinking about the essay prompts for their college essay.

A mother and son smile happily under a brown and gold school color balloon arch at Rowan University accepted students day.

September

Start having your student ask people to write their letter of recommendations! At Rowan, we require at least one letter of recommendation, and we accept up to five. Keep in mind, teachers and school counselors write A LOT of letters of recommendation, so you want to make sure they have plenty of time to write a well-written letter. Please note, home schooled applicants choosing to apply test optional will be required to submit two letters of recommendation.

Your student should also be drafting their college essay and having their teachers help revise and make edits.  

A drone view of the Rowan athletic field, with the mascot of the Prof in the middle on the grass.

October

At this point, your student should have their letters of recommendation written, their college essay ready to go, and the application complete and ready to be submitted. October is a great time to hit the “submit” button on the application and start sending test scores (if you choose to send them), letters of recs and high school transcripts.

We are a test optional school; we will consider your test scores should you submit them. There are some exceptions where test scores are required; see our Test Optional page for more information. If you are sending test scores, they must be sent to Rowan University through College Board or ACT directly. 

Your student will also need to see their high school counselor and request their high school transcript be sent to Rowan.

If you are going to be applying for financial aid, be aware the FAFSA becomes available on Oct. 1. I always tell students to sit down with their parents/guardians in early October to complete that. The sooner you get the FAFSA submitted, the sooner you will get your financial aid package.

After submitting the application, your student will receive a link to their Admissions Status Page. This page will list all received materials and show which materials have not been received yet. It will also identify the student’s admission counselor and it will include their phone number and email. If you have any questions about the application process, we encourage you to connect with us!

Once a decision is made on your student’s application, the status page will reflect their decision letter; and if a FAFSA is submitted, you will be able to view the College Financing Plan. There will also be a section for your student to reply to their offer of admission, and it will show their next enrollment steps if they choose to call Rowan University home. 

Water fountains spray water upward on Rowan Boulevard.

November

If your student submitted all their required documents in October, November may be a waiting game. This is a great time to go re-visit some of the schools your student applied to and meet with faculty members from the department/area of interest your student applied to.

A golden hued campus beauty photo showing golden decorative grasses and trees about to change color.

December

By December, your student should receive their decision if they applied in early October. Keep in mind, this can fluctuate depending on volume. When your student does receive their decision, they will also receive information regarding merit scholarships, and they will receive financial aid information a few weeks following.

Snow covered HollyBush Mansion at Rowan University.

January-April

Continue to visit colleges that your student has been admitted to and attend Accepted Student Days. This will allow your student to see a school through the eyes of an admitted student, instead of a prospective student.

This is also a great time to compare financial aid awards and start thinking about which school is the right fit for you.

A drone view of the town of Glassboro, with the water tower in the distance and top of Bunce tower in the foreground.

May

Time to make your decision! When you are ready to confirm your enrollment to Rowan University, your student can visit their Admissions Status Page to reply to the offer of admission. Once your student confirms their enrollment, the status page will list all of their next enrollment steps (orientation, housing, testing, etc.).

A happy family of five hold #RowanPROUD signs under a brown and gold school color balloon arch at Accepted Students Day.

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Story by:
Amanda Marcks, Assistant Director of Admissions

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College Admissions Glossary

Rowan future freshman on campus

As you start the college planning process with your student, you may run into some terms you may have never heard before. What does FAFSA mean? What is rolling admission? What does superscore mean? Use this as a guide to help navigate and understand all the acronyms and terms used in the admission process!

ACT: American College Test. A standardized test used to measure a student’s knowledge in four subject areas — English, math, reading and science.

Placement Test: A test all incoming freshmen take to determine which courses are appropriate to your skill level. Some students may be exempt from this exam based off of standardized test scores.

Common Application: The Common Application (Common App) is a website students use to apply to multiple schools with one singular application. Some colleges may have some supplemental questions pertaining to their institution, so be sure to have your student keep their eye out for those!

Early Action: Early Action (EA) allows a student to apply to an institution early and receive an admission decision earlier. Applying EA is non-binding and if you are accepted.

Early Decision: Similar to Early Action, Early Decision (ED) allows a student to apply to an institution early. If your student applies ED, and is admitted, they must withdraw all other applications from other schools and commit to the school they were accepted to. This is binding.

Financial Aid: Money given to the student in the form of loans, grants and scholarships to help pay for college. Financial aid can come from the federal and state government, private organizations and from the college itself.

Rolling Admission: An admissions process in which a college reviews an application once all the required documents and credentials (application, test scores, transcript, letters of recommendation) have been received. Typically, institutions that are rolling admission do not have hard application deadlines.

SAT: A standardized test, similar to the ACT, used to evaluate and measure a student’s knowledge in three subject areas — math, reading and writing. There is an optional essay portion of the exam, but some institutions do not require this part.

SAT Superscore: If a student took the SAT multiple times, super score means a college will consider the highest section score of all exams taken. For example: if you took the SAT in October and received a 500 on the math and 500 on the reading section, and you took the SAT in May and received a 510 on the math and 480 on the reading section, your superscore would be 510 math, 500 reading for a total superscore of 1010.

Waitlist: A decision that is neither a yes nor a no. A student who is put on the waitlist will have the opportunity to enroll only if there is availability in the incoming class after admitted students have responded to their offer of admission.

EOF: The Educational Opportunity Fund program is a state-funded grant for New Jersey residents — providing financial assistance and academic support services for low income, first generation, academically promising New Jersey residents with limited academic preparation. Eligible students receive intentional academic support and financial assistance based on their individual need.

Subsidized Loan: If a student demonstrates financial need based on the FAFSA, the federal government will pay the interest charge while the student is enrolled at least half-time (6 credits). Students must pay the principal and interest during the repayment period which occurs (6 months) following graduation or if they withdrawal from the university. Subsidized loans are not available to graduate students.

Unsubsidized Loan: All matriculated students enrolled at least half-time may receive a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan regardless of family income. The interest is not paid on the student’s behalf. Borrowers may choose to make payments while in school (recommended), or allow the interest to accumulate onto the balance.

Cost of Attendance: A term used in financial aid to describe what the school estimates it will cost the student to live, eat, and go to school. It is different at every school and it not the actual expense.

Net Price: Is the amount that a student pays to attend an institution in a single academic year AFTER subtracting scholarships and grants the student receives.

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Amanda Kuster, admissions counselor

Eight Budgeting & Saving Tips to Teach Your Student

Back of Business Hall at Rowan

Heading into a new academic year brings new goals — including new ways to improve financial habits and invest in a better economic future. For most students, paying down debt and saving more money topped the list of resolutions.

Americans collectively were on pace to accrue about $4 trillion in consumer debt by the end of 2018, according to a LendingTree analysis of the latest Federal Reserve data.

Despite the staggering statistics, now is a great time to develop a healthy relationship with your finances. It is possible to pay down existing debt and set yourself up to save money at the same time. It just takes a clear plan of action, some commitment and a positive outlook.

Student using her Rowan Card to make a purchase

 1. Establish an accurate picture of your current financial landscape — down to the smallest detail.

 2.  Gather up every financial statement you can find, build a spreadsheet or document to record all income sources and create a list of all monthly expenses (including all debts and loans). From there, organize those expenses by category — everything from your rent payment down to the daily morning coffee you buy.

 3.  Determine which expenses are fixed (think: the same amount every month, like car payments, rent, and auto insurance) and which are variable (i.e., what fluctuates, like entertainment, groceries, discretionary spending, etc.). Total up all expenses and compare that to the total income you generate each month. If your expenses are higher than your income, look at your variable expenses and find opportunities to adjust or scale back.

 4.  Commit a specific dollar amount toward debt repayment and savings, and make each a “fixed expense.”

 5.  Aim to pay more than the minimum monthly loan repayment for credit cards, in particular. For example, if a credit card has a minimum payment of $25/month, commit to $50/month and stick to it. That way, you’ll cover the interest and start chipping away at the total balance.

 6.  As important as it is to pay down debt, it’s equally important to pay yourself. Even if it’s $50 a paycheck, figure out an amount that’s reasonable for you and your goals and sock it away in a savings account each month —preferably one that grows interest. Make it a non-negotiable payment, or set up an automatic transfer, so that money goes right into savings without a second thought. You’ll be surprised how much you’ve saved after one year.

 7.  Remember: you’re doing this for you. And you’re in control.

 8.  Try not to look at budgeting as restrictive or some sort of self-inflicted retribution for poor financial habits. Keep a positive mindset and remember to take it one day at a time. As your outstanding debts shrink and your savings account grows, you’ll gradually see the results of your steadfast commitment. Building a great relationship with money and designing a brighter financial future for yourself can help you reach your goals. Each small step forward is more motivating than the last. Just be clear about where you are, where you want to go and how you’ll get there.

Rowan Financial Literacy Expert Brandi Blanton in front of Savitz Hall
Brandi Blanton

Better budgeting and smarter savings are within reach. Check out more of Comenity’s financial resources for additional tips.

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Story By:
Brandi Blanton
Financial Literacy Specialist
Rowan University Financial Aid

How to Help Your Student Adjust to “Adulting”

Students studying and playing on a field

Helping your child adjust to “adulting” is easier than you think. Today we hear from Ferdoushe Laizu, mother of rising Rowan senior Mohammed Fuad (journalism); Brunilda Gomez, mother of rising Rowan senior Miguel Martinez (radio/tv/film); and Kathy Vause, mother of recent Rowan graduate Vanessa Vause (public relations and advertising). They will share their tips on how to help your child adjust to “adulting.”

There is no book in the world with instructions on how to properly help your child adjust to “adulting,” but if every parent shares at least one tip or advice that has worked for them then there is a higher chance you can help your child adjust to “adulting” properly. Here are three “adulting” skills/qualities that Gomez thinks is essential for your child to learn before entering college:

  1. Time management- “Being able to manage your time between priorities is important in the real world, whether that is for a job or just in general in life.”Girl reading at the library
  2. Respect- “Respecting your coworker or people you come across in life. Show what kind of person you are. If you respect people, they will also respect you.”
  3. Organization- “Just like time management, organization is something you will use in real life and being good at it will bring you a long way.” 

Laizu’s piece of advice for students:

“One advice I would give is to tackle responsibilities like an adult and if you mess up, you have to learn how to take responsibility.”

students hanging out Kathy Vause shares her own experience as a parent on how she helped her recently graduated daughter adjust to “adulting.”

“As a parent, I’m there for my daughter but I need to step back and let her live out her life. Yes, she’ll make mistakes and struggle but that’s what will make her stronger and give her the ability to grow. It’s important to find a balance of supporting, but letting your child learn lessons on their own.”

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Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, rising senior journalism major

10 Myths about Financial Aid & The FAFSA

Future Rowan students touring campus with their tour guides

  1.  We make too much money, so we won’t get anything.

MYTH! There is no income cut off, so eligible students will qualify for something, including low-interest loans that do not require a credit check or co-signer.  

Prof tip: Don’t make assumptions on what you may receive. Fill out the FAFSA and decide if you want to use the aid or not. You have to fill out the FAFSA to qualify for many state aid programs such as the NJ Tuition Aid Grant.  

  1. The FAFSA opens on Jan. 1.

MYTH! The FAFSA application now opens on Oct. 1 of every year. Financial aid is first-come, first-served. So it could pay off (literally) to get your application in quickly. 

Prof tip: You don’t need to wait for you or your parents to file their taxes to submit. 

  1. It costs money to submit your FAFSA.

MYTH! The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Applying will help students access money for college like grants, scholarships and federal work-study, as well as provide access to federal student loans. There is only one official FAFSA form online, and you should complete it at fafsa.ed.gov or the myStudentAid mobile app. 

Prof tip: Stay away from spoof websites, especially if they request a payment.

  1. You only need to complete the FAFSA one time (OR you only need to complete the FAFSA your first year).

MYTH! You have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.

Prof tip: Apply early!

  1. I need to wait until I’m accepted to college before I complete my FAFSA.

MYTH! You don’t need to wait! You can start as early as your senior year of high school. You must list at least one college to receive your information. You SHOULD list all schools you’re considering even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if you later decide not to apply or attend. If you don’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard your FAFSA form.

  1. My parents don’t pay my bills, so I don’t need to include their information on the FAFSA.

MYTH! Even if you support yourself, live on your own, or file your own taxes, you may still be considered a dependent student by the federal government for FAFSA purposes. The FAFSA form asks a series of questions to determine your dependency status. If you’re independent, you won’t need to include your parents’ information on your FAFSA form. If you are dependent, you must provide your parents’ information.

Prof tip: Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA people) asks a series of questions to determine a student’s dependency status.

Learn more here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/dependency  

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/fafsa-dependency.pdf

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/dependency-status.png

  1. I need to use the 2018 taxes to complete my FAFSA.

MYTH! The FAFSA form asks for financial information, including information from tax forms and balances of savings and checking accounts. The 2019–20 FAFSA form, which became available Oct. 1, 2018, asks for 2017 tax information.

  1. The expected family contribution is the exact amount you have to pay.
Rowan Financial Literacy Expert Brandi Blanton standing near Savitz Hall
Brandi Blanton

MYTH! Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. Your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) are all considered in the formula. It also takes into consideration your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.

Your EFC is NOT the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive.

Prof tip: To understand your out of pocket financial obligation, subtract the financial aid awards from the tuition amount. 

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Story by:
Brandi Blanton, Financial Literacy Expert

Mother of Two Offers Advice to New Rowan Parents

Lauren and her mother in rowan shirts

Learning to let go is no easy task. Today’s advice features Cindy Bitzer, mother of rising Rowan senior Josh (computer science) and recent Rowan graduate Lauren (marketing). Lauren interviewed her mother for this story. 

The time has finally come, your student is transitioning from a high school senior to a freshman in college. They are transforming into adulthood and the time has come for them to be on their own and time for parents to learn to let go.

Parents and students need to set boundaries with one another. Parents, you will learn to treat your student as a new adult. Prevent yourself from indulging in mobile tracking apps and monitoring their every move. Failure to do so could potentially result in your student either rebelling or feel pushed under a micromanaging shadow. By constantly checking in, you’re only going to be alienating your student and depriving them from opportunities.

“When you’ve been parenting for eighteen years, you’re just so used to having your student around,” says Cindy Bitzer, mother of two Rowan Students; senior business major Lauren Bitzer and senior computer science major Josh Bitzer. “It’s okay to be concerned about your student’s grades, social life, and other aspects of the college experience, but I’ve learned to recognize that you can’t manage their whole life.”

It’s easy to want to help your students with registering for classes or attending advising appointments, but you need to allow them to make their own decisions.

“I currently reside in Cherry Hill, and with Rowan University being so close (thirty minutes away), it’s so tempting to drive down and surprise my son and daughter, but I also have to respect them and their space,” says Cindy. “During their time at Rowan, I had to resist the urge to come unannounced and learned to call and check in before making plans to visit.”

Cindy’s advice to other parents would be to let their students live their life and make their own decisions. Although it is much easier said than done, you have to learn to be okay with the decisions they make. Micromanaging your student will hamper their social development and stunt their growth into adulthood.  

It’s important to remember that incoming students are adjusting to a new schedule with a new workload, new classes and new friends. Lastly, remember that your plans for your students may not be the same plans as theirs. Allow your students the freedom and creativity to design their own college experience.

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The Importance of Parental Participation in Orientation

Today we hear from Dr. Heidi L. Newell of Williamstown, NJ, mother of a sophomore communication studies major at Rowan who lives on campus. Heidi will share her thoughts on the importance of parents attending orientation.

Before attending parent orientation at Rowan University last year, I questioned how beneficial it would be for me as a parent considering that my husband and I have worked at Rowan since 1998, and my own parents only attended an hour-long information session when I went to college.

After Rowan University’s two day orientation concluded, I realized just how much I needed to attend. We heard from professionals who interact with today’s college students and explained how everything works.

 However, orientation is so much more than a method of getting important information to parents. There is an emotional component to it that I hadn’t anticipated. We dropped off our daughter in the residence hall where she would be living in the Fall and, then, rarely saw her for two days except a brief encounter during which she was surrounded by new friends. Whew! I began to picture her navigating her way through freshman challenges. This experience helped simulate what it would be like for all of us in a few months.

Talking to other parents and realizing that some were feeling the same sorts of fears I was made me feel not so alone. Other parents had been through this transition before with older children so their wisdom was a source of comfort. I think college life was different, perhaps simpler, when I was an undergraduate so there were new things to learn and discuss. Parents posed questions I hadn’t considered before. Before orientation, the transition process was this scary, vague prospect. After orientation, I felt focused: I had a list of tasks to accomplish that summer. I actually made some friends and became part of a new community of Rowan parents! Although it was still sad when she moved in, attending orientation had given me the courage and excitement I needed.

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Story by: Dr. Heidi Newell, parent of a Rowan sophomore
Photography by: Chad Wittmann, rising senior journalism major

Scholarships 101: Why Your Freshman Should Apply for Continuing Scholarships at Rowan

Three Rowan students jumping in front of the Chamberlain Student Center

Once the celebratory clapping has drifted away at the high school senior awards ceremony, you might be thinking, “How am I going to make up the difference once this freshman-year only scholarship from our community disappears?”

Once your son or daughter is a Rowan University student, they are eligible to apply for Rowan University Foundation and Continuing Student Scholarships

Applications generally open in the beginning of the fall semester and close in mid-December, around final exam time. 

Screech to a halt. Sear that in your brain. Yes — once you kiss your darling freshman goodbye as they head out the door to live on campus or commute, it’s around that time of year that you need to plan for the upcoming year of scholarships. 

Mom and Dad, we know your student is an adult, but my advice is to be on top of this. New adults are still fine-tuning their time management skills — throw into the mix getting used to college, making new friends and having a whole new routine, and something is bound to slip through the cracks. Do NOT let it be your student’s scholarship opportunity. 

More than 200 scholarships are available, all funded through private donations (not tuition). To get these scholarships, students need to … apply! You would be surprised at how many students do not! Last year over $2 million in support was awarded. Get a piece of that!

Rowan student looking at form

Check in with your student to make sure they are setting the time aside to complete the application. It requires three letters of recommendation and, yes, it can be super awkward to ask someone for a letter of recommendation — especially a new teacher or academic advisor who you recently met. Reassure your student that this happens all the time. Literally, all the time. Tell them they can’t push off asking for letters — the people they are approaching may not say it, but I will: “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Encourage your student to develop a relationship with faculty and advisors. They are people too! Visit during scheduled office hours or schedule an appointment, stand out in class by participating in group discussions and … for many faculty and advisors, December is a busy month. It’s simply not possible to say yes to a scholarship applicant looking for a letter of recommendation with a deadline of tomorrow. 

Rowan's Brandi Blanton standing near Savitz Hall
             Brandi Blanton

One last helpful hint: encourage your student to get involved on campus. Community service and school involvement weren’t just to bolster their chances at getting into college. In addition the social, emotional and health benefits, many scholarships consider campus leadership and participation in on-campus and community activities.

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Story By: Brandi Blanton, financial literacy expert

Questions to Ask a College Representative at a College Fair

Rowan Prof outside of Savitz Hall

Today, we feature advice from Amanda Kuster — not only is she a Rowan University admissions counselor with the Office of Admissions, but she is also a Rowan alumna herself, having graduated from our Communications Studies program within the College of Communication & Creative Arts

Amanda Kuster, Rowan admissions counselor, has advice for attending college fairs

Attending a college fair is a great way to ask college representatives questions about their institution. Most of the time, the college representatives attending the college fair are the ones who are responsible for the recruitment efforts in that area, and they review the applications from the area. This gives students and their families an opportunity to create a relationship and ask questions about admissions, campus life, financial aid and the different programs of study.

Consider asking these questions when attending a college fair!

  1. What is your institution known for?
  2. What documents are required during the admissions process?
  3. What is the average SAT/ACT scores and GPA?
  4. Are you test optional?
  5. How competitive is admission to your institution?
  6. What is the application deadline?
  7. Are there any specific requirements for certain programs of study?
  8. What is the retention rate of your institution?
  9. How many undergraduate students are enrolled at your institution?
  10.  How much is tuition and room and board?
  11.  What type of scholarships do you offer?
  12.  Do you accept AP credits or dual enrollment credits?
  13.  Is housing guaranteed all four years?
  14.  Can freshmen have a car on campus?
  15.  Does your institution provide support for my student to find an internship?
  16.  Does your institution offer study abroad opportunities?
  17.  What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
  18.  What is the average class size?
  19.  How many undergraduate programs do you offer?
  20.  Do students stay on campus over the weekend or do they go home?

Two students receiving aid from a faculty member at Rowan University

If you can’t attend a college fair to ask these questions, these are great questions to also ask over the phone, email or when you visit a campus!

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Story by: Amanda Kuster, Admissions Counselor

Who to Ask for Letters of Recommendation?

Rowan admissions officer Amanda Kuster working at her desk in Savitz Hall

Letters of recommendation are a vital piece of a student’s application. In addition to the application, college essay, high school transcripts and test scores, letters of recommendation give an admissions counselor insight as to who the student is beyond what is seen on the other supporting documents.

Rowan students working at a table At Rowan University, we require at least one letter of recommendation and we accept up to five. So, who should be writing your student’s letter of recommendation?!

  1.        A High School Teacher

A high school teacher is a really great person to ask for a letter of recommendation! They can speak to your student’s academic success, struggles that they have overcome and about their character.

  1.       School Counselor

A high school counselor meets with the student throughout the year and is a crucial part of a student’s journey to life after high school. School counselors typically get swamped with writing letters of recommendations, so be sure to have your student ask for a letter of recommendation as early on in the year as possible.

  1.       Employer

An employer can really highlight a student’s life and work ethic outside of the classroom. Most student’s applications give admissions counselors an idea of who they are in the classroom, so it is always nice to read letters from people who know your student outside of academia. An employer can also highlight a student’s work ethic and strengths.

  1.       Coach/Youth Group Leader/Club Advisor

If your student does not work because of sports, academics, etc., a coach, youth group leader, troop leader or club advisor could be a great person to ask! Just like an employer, these people can really highlight a student’s leadership and teamwork skills.

Rowan staff posing with the Rowan Prof

Make sure your student gives the person who is writing their letter of recommendation enough time to write a thoughtful piece. It is also a good idea to have your student provide the person who is writing the letter a copy of their resume and some information about the school they are applying for, including their intended major!

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Story by:
Amanda Marcks, Assistant Direct of Admissions 

Related posts:

I’m Not Sure What to Major in, is That Normal?

Rowan Foundation Scholarships: Which Ones To Apply To and Where To Find Them

Rowan University Application Timeline

Stop Amazon Priming, Start Planning

Wideshot of the front of bunch hall

It’s so easy to Amazon Prime your way into debt, especially as a new adult who may be living away from home for the first time, managing a credit card for the first time or spending to self-medicate to feel better about homesickness or a breakup. 

Stop Priming, start planning. Make sure your freshman chooses wisely how to spend that hard-earned cash — namely, by teaching them to understand the difference between wants and needs. 

Sit down with your Rowan student, ideally before they start their college career, and talk to them candidly about money. Grab a piece of paper — let’s do it old school, Mom and Dad — and create two columns: wants and needs. 

Whether you’re funding your freshman’s living situation or they’re paying their own way, these conversations are important. At the top of the page, make a note of how much money your student has to spend each month, from savings, a current job or a gift from you. On the left side of the paper, write in big ol’ capital letters: NEEDS. On the right, WANTS. 

You might want more paper…

That daily habit of a venti white chocolate mocha at Starbucks is over $30 a week. Everyone’s finances are different, so for your family this might be fine … or it might not be. Maybe your student’s budget is $50 per week and they’re perfectly happy to live in white chocolate mocha bliss and cut back in other ways (or maybe they think that you’re a softie and if they blow their budget on Starbucks you’ll bail them out).

Until it’s in black and white on that piece of paper and talked about with you, wants/needs and expectations may not truly be clear to your freshman. 

Have the candid conversation. Are you expecting your student to contribute to their cell phone bill? Car insurance? Their own Amazon purchases on your account? Will you cover the cost of gas for your commuter? E-ZPass for your student who lives 2+ hours away? Let there be no surprises. 

Now, back to NEEDS. Food. Shelter. Contact lenses and allergy pills. A laptop. Gas to go back-and-forth to school. Make your list that’s specific to your student. 

WANTS. Emphasize to your freshman that a lot of new students bond over entertainment and food. There WILL be late night Chinese takeout and pizza delivery in your student’s future. Now, if they’re blowing all their cash on Starbucks, they’re going to have to say, “Nah, I’m cool” when everyone is walking to Wawa for slushies at 11 p.m. (because college).

On top of the regular WANTS in the wants column — coffeehouse drinks, movies, dorm decorations — emphasize to your student that they should set aside a part of their WANTS budget for those spontaneous, unplanned adventures with friends. Who wouldn’t want to jump in the car on a warm September Saturday with new friends and head down the shore? 

Brandi Blanton standing in front of savitz
Brandi Blanton

Now back to the boring NEEDS. Outline your expectations. Will you cover emergencies, Mom and Dad? What exactly counts as an emergency? Do you expect that your student sets aside a part of their NEEDS budget every month for unexpected things, like replacing the car’s windshield wipers? New shoes for a job interview?

Again, nothing will be clear unless you make it clear, with your student, and have these candid discussions about WANTS and NEEDS. Mom and Dad, you do NOT want to be surprised with an Amazon Prime bill from your eager student who hit up Pinterest for dorm decorating ideas and expects you to foot the bill.

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Story By:
Brandi Blanton, financial literacy expert

How to Help Your Homesick Student

We’ve all been there; missing mom, dad, sisters, our turtle, brothers. In college, it’s no different, especially that first year. Here’s some tips to help your homesick student. As a student, I like to help my homesickness by hanging photos from home all around my dorm room. This helped me smile and remember the good […]

How Much Communication is Too Much?

Two students in a dorm room doing face masks together

An admissions ambassador within the Office of Admissions, sophomore Grace Coulthurst – a dual major in public relations and advertising – serves as a campus tour guide for incoming freshmen and transfers, as well as their parents. Today she shares insight and advice for parents – from experienced Rowan parents – on communication with your student. 

Compare/Contrast Freshman Housing

Scott Timko is a resident assistant in Mullica Hall, wearing a yellow sweatshirt that says Glassboro State

Chatting with Rowan University on campus residents on a frigid, hectic morning just before finals (seriously, is it really spring yet?!), one thing was clear: the sense of community within their residence halls is what they love most. However, what “community” means in each residence hall is different. I learned that Evergreen is known for […]