Get a head start on back-to-school season

It is back-to-school time for millions of young people. I am an instructor at a community college and would like to offer some suggestions to make the registration process smoother for students.

Dear Annie: It is back-to-school time for millions of young people. I am an instructor at a community college and would like to offer some suggestions to make the registration process smoother for students.

1. See the school counselor at least two weeks before registration. If you wait until registration week, the counselors will be extremely busy.

2. College is not free. Scholarships and grants must be applied for months in advance, not the day of registration. If you do not have the paperwork in your hand, be prepared to pay. The payout plan offered by my school must be linked to a credit card or bank account. Check with the school ahead of time to be sure you have the required information for checks or credit cards. My school requires about seven pieces of information. You will need separate checks for the bookstore and tuition.

3. Only the student should go to registration. Do not take parents, grandparents, siblings, children or friends. Small children have unplugged my computer and vomited in my office. “Helicopter” parents have been some of our worst headaches. They make nasty comments about the cost of tuition and books, over which I have no control, and it embarrasses their kids.

4. Read all of the signs with directions and instructions. I am the last step of the registration process, and I usually have to send 15 percent of the kids back through the long line because they missed a step.

5. Turn off your cellphone. I need your full attention to complete a multistep process to ensure that you have your schedule, your funds get processed and you have the proper receipts.

Go to the first day of class even if you have not paid. That is when instructors go over expectations and explain assignments. Some even lecture. I want my students to be successful. Come see me in my office, even if only to say hello. I am here to help. – Lou Ann Everett, Trinity Valley Community College, Terrell, Texas

Dear Lou Ann Everett: Thank you for your helpful advice for students, especially incoming freshmen. We hope they pay attention.

Dear Annie: My wife and daughter (age 33) don’t get along. There is history between them from when our daughter was an adolescent. For the past few years, they have gotten along better, but I always sensed a dark cloud on the horizon.

We visited our daughter last week. Everything went well until the day before we left. My wife made some offhand comment, my daughter overreacted, and it went downhill from there. They are not talking to each other now.

My wife tends to be hypercritical, and my daughter doesn’t know how to deal with it. I try to play peacemaker, but I don’t like being in the middle, and neither of them listens to me. Any ideas? – Caught in the Middle

Dear Caught: If your wife and daughter truly wish to change this dysfunctional pattern, it likely will require professional counseling to figure out how to behave in a more productive way. You can suggest it, but otherwise, we recommend you stay out of the middle and maintain these relationships individually.

Dear Annie: “Open but Lost” had an open marriage, and you astutely asked whether her husband really wanted it.

My wife wanted an open marriage based on advice received from her support group. I agreed reluctantly. I painfully experienced having to hear phone calls from her suitors. The bottom line was that I experienced a total loss of trust and commitment, and it finally led to our divorce. Years later, my ex apologized to me for what she had done and asked for my forgiveness. I’ve been happily married to my second wife for 21 years. My ex is on her fourth marriage. – Not the Thing To Do

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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