Madison Family Newsletter: November 2021

Madison Family Newsletter: November 2021

Brought to you by the JMU Office of Parent Relations


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The Madison Family Newsletter is created each month by the Office of Parent Relations in partnership with many members of the JMU community. For more family resources, visit our website.

A Letter from Dr. Tim Miller

Hello everyone,

It’s almost Thanksgiving break and I’m sure you’re looking forward to having your student with you for the week. I wanted to remind all of you that residence halls close on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m. and reopen on Saturday, Nov. 27 at 10 a.m.

If this is the first time you and your student have experienced them returning home for a long break, it may be an adjustment for all of you. You may be looking forward to family time and hearing all about college life. Your student may want to visit with friends or just sleep (a lot!) Thanksgiving break is a good time to prepare for the longer winter break that will follow three weeks later. This article from the Counseling Center gives you some good tips to help you prepare. My advice is simple – set expectations ahead of time and be understanding that they are used to living a different type of lifestyle while they have been at JMU. Even if it seems like they want to go hang out with their friends for some parts of the week, know that they are so happy to be home with your family for this much needed break.

Students have begun registering for Spring classes and I want to encourage you to help them prepare for this experience. This may be the first time they are doing this without you and that will cause additional stress and anxiety. They need to go into MyMadison as soon as possible and confirm their registration time and they also need to ensure they don’t have any holds. This can cause a lot of undue stress if they try to register and realize they have a hold that has to be removed. Finally, they need to be flexible. They should have a lot of different options prepared and not get hung up on building the perfect schedule with Mondays and Fridays off and no classes before 10 a.m. Also, please note that there will be 20 minutes between each class this Spring which will give them time to get to different parts of campus so they need to consider that when developing their schedules.

Please enjoy your time together over Thanksgiving and remember that there are only three weeks until Winter Break once they return.

Take care, and Go Dukes!

Dr. Tim Miller

Vice President for Student Affairs

National Philanthropy Day: November 15th

National Philanthropy Day is November 15th! JMU has a variety of funds that support student scholarships, including Women for Madison’s newest initiative, the Amethyst Circle. Click the button below to learn more about opportunities to support JMU for National Philanthropy Day.

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Talking to your student about substance use and misuse

Submitted by: Paige Hawkins, Substance Misuse Prevention Specialist, UREC

Your student will soon return home to celebrate the Thanksgiving and winter break. As students begin to return home for break, there is a lot to talk about! Exploring and celebrating what’s gone really well this semester is a priority. What is your student most proud of? Breaks are also an opportunity to ask what’s been unexpected, challenging or difficult to navigate. The field of Health Promotion and Well-Being, specifically substance misuse, has an ever-changing landscape as new substances become prevalent, drug potency increases, and legalization is on the political forefront.

If alcohol or cannabis has become a significant part of your student’s college experience; if during break you hear about or see behaviors that concern you; know that your influence matters! We realize it can be difficult to know how or where to begin.

Could your student benefit from Wellness Coaching at JMU?

Wellness Coaching is an opportunity for students to enhance their well-being. Our goal is to listen well and provide a space where students can explore expectations of alcohol, cannabis or nicotine. Coaching consists of typically, two, one-on-one meetings, lasting 45-60 minutes. Wellness Coaching provides a confidential space for students to consider what’s going well, identify personal goals, and build a personalized plan to minimize the potential risk of substance use. Referral to additional campus resources may also be positive outcome of Wellness Coaching. There is no fee for this service.

You don’t have to be an expert or perfect to start or continue a dialogue with your student. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Consider a health and wellness first approach. Students are often receptive to conversations about their well-being, even if the focus is on substances. How, if at all, might substance use be interfering with your student’s goals, values and interests? How, if at all, are they being impacted by the behavior of others?
  2. Repetition is important. While most parents say they have had a specific conversation about expectations regarding substance use, fewer students remember this discussion. Having an ongoing dialogue can be important to help your student remember and to show how the issue is important to you.
  3. Highlight the importance of managing stress in healthy ways. Some may use a substance in order to deal with situations that are stressful or emotional. This is often counterproductive. Help your student by encouraging them to find self-care strategies that work for them when dealing with a variety of situations. These can be as simple as listening to music, working out, or taking a few deep breaths to refocus. Your student can build their own unique “toolkit” of strategies.
  4. Empower your student to learn about supports and resources on campus. Our campus has many amazing supports for students (i.e. Wellness Coaching) that include mindfulness activities, creative and self-care spaces, and services to help students take a closer look at how alcohol and other drugs impact their lives.

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Reasons Financial Aid Awards Can Change

Submitted by: Brad Barnett, Director, Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

When students are awarded financial aid funds in a semester, it’s important to keep in mind that there are situations when financial aid awards can be reduced or canceled. This applies even after funds are received. The majority of these situations will be triggered as a result of action taken by the student, and we’re providing a list of some of the most common reasons this occurs.

  • Changing Registration – Financial aid eligibility is based, in part, on the number of “’financial aid eligible” hours a student is taking during that enrollment period. If the registration changes, financial aid can also change. This is especially important to note during the add/drop periods of each term.
  • Failure to Begin Classes – Students receiving financial aid must begin attendance in classes for which they were awarded financial aid. If that does not happen, adjustments could be made to financial aid awards.
  • Receipt of Additional Aid – If a student receives additional aid that the Financial Aid Office was not aware of when the JMU financial aid package was created, then it might be necessary for some of the awards made through JMU to be reduced or canceled. This is called an “overaward” situation.
  • Failing Classes – At the conclusion of a term the Financial Aid Office will evaluate grades for students who received financial aid funds. In some cases, a failed class could lead to a reduction or cancelation of certain financial aid awards.
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) – If a student is receiving financial aid under the terms of an Academic Plan associated with a SAP appeal, and if the student does not meet the terms of the plan, aid may be reduced or canceled.
  • Repeating Classes – There are limits on how many times a student can receive financial aid for repeating courses. If we discover a student has exceeded those limits, then financial aid awards may change.

While the items above do not represent an all-inclusive list, they do provide information on the most common reasons that cause a financial aid package to be modified. With that said, generally speaking, if students receive a financial aid package and complete all of the classes for which they registered, then the likelihood of the financial aid package changing during the term is significantly reduced.

You can learn much more about the rules associated with financial aid eligibility by reviewing JMU Terms and Conditions for Financial Aid – Consumer Information.

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Tip: Keep up with important dates and deadlines by bookmarking the Academic Calendar

What Saved Students Nearly $900,000 in Book Costs Last Year?

Submitted by: Emily Blake, Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Libraries

Last year, JMU students saved nearly $900,000 in book costs, thanks to faculty choosing open educational resources like open textbooks and articles from the library. At JMU, we have an Open Education Librarian, Liz Thompson, who helps faculty to switch over to open course materials and advocates for other forms of open access. This kind of cost savings is important for many students, but open access is not just about saving money. As Liz Thompson explains, “When instructors assign open and affordable course materials, they are offering students an alternative way to access required readings that makes a course more accessible not only for low-income students and visually impaired students, but for everyone.” Learn more in this JMU Libraries feature story: Meet Our Champion for Open, Affordable Textbooks.

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Harness Healthy, Happy Holidays & More

Submitted by: Misty Newman, Associate Director, Community Service-Learning

When volunteering in the community--even for just a few hours--not only can you leave a lasting impact, but you are also afforded benefits including potentially enhancing your well-being. Studies show those who volunteer regularly are healthier, happier and have a greater sense of fulfillment. Upon returning, one of our Alternative Fall Break participants told us, “I learned that there is a serious need for services and many of these types of facilities run only on volunteers…Our service just for three days, was super important to them. If we didn’t do this; it would have extended the timeline for them by a lot. I was very lucky to be a part of this service.”

During the holidays many collect food/clothing, shop for an “angel tree” child/family, or serve meals creating very meaningful winter traditions. The impact of this seasonal generosity can be significant as volunteers take on responsibilities or provide services resulting in organizational capacity-building and allow full-time staff to meet even greater numbers of community-identified needs. Once the holidays end, volunteer numbers decrease. However, the volunteer experience and the positive impact it has on the lives of others can be more than a one-time-a-year tradition. For example, the day before classes begin in January, your student can join us as we adopt the mantra "a day on, not a day off" and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by joining in a national Day of Service. The work of community organizations that enhance the quality of life in our communities is year-round.

As you ponder the best way to serve the community during the holidays and throughout the year, consider not only an enduring commitment to service, but also the possibility that other contributions including in-kind services and financial support can be instrumental to addressing community priorities. For instance, financial gifts not only allow food banks to stay open and supply food to those in need, but also allows them to meet specific needs or sponsor related programs; a pantry can consider allergies and use monetary donations to secure food that meets those restrictions. Currently, $1 helps the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (BRAFB) provide 4 meals. The same $10 you would spend to get 3-5 cans of food could actually provide 40 meals. That can be the difference between providing a lunch for two people to feeding a family of four for a week. Organizations, like BRAFB, are happy to respond to inquiries about the kind of support that best meets their needs.

Perhaps volunteering becomes a year-round habit and your student commits now to joining us for the MLK Day of Service or your student reaches out to local nonprofits to ensure a donation is the best way to meet needs this holiday season. Both considerations allow your student to make a difference in the community while also providing a sense of personal meaning. To connect your student to these opportunities or nonprofits, please reach out at csl@jmu.edu or 540.568.6366 or the link below.

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SLC Extends Reach with VATA

Submitted by: Michael McCleve, Associate Director for Leadership, Student Leadership Center

The Student Leadership Center (SLC) does a lot of work on campus to help students discover their leadership potential. But have you ever wondered if they have an impact outside of the JMU bubble? The short answer is, “Yes!” One example of that comes from their work with the participants of the Virginia Athletic Trainers Association (VATA) Leadership Academy.

The SLC’s involvement with VATA started with a JMU professor, Dr. Kirk Armstrong. He was familiar with the work the SLC has done and was particularly interested in DISC, a type of personality test the SLC uses in many of their leadership seminars. Dr. Armstrong understood the benefits of this type of leadership training and how it could help athletic trainers better understand themselves and their patients.

Once Dr. Armstrong expressed interest in using the SLC’s leadership expertise to help athletic trainers, the highly dedicated and committed staff of the SLC went right to work putting together an informative program to help trainers from across the state. Two experienced members of the LEAD Team, Jo Tuckley and Lachlan Hudson, handled the creation aspect and also presented all the content to trainers in attendance. The resulting seminar consisted of 2 presentations teaching the content and sharing how the concepts can be practically applied. They also set up individual meetings between each of the VATA Leadership Academy participants and one of the qualified LEAD Team Consultants to discuss the content on a more personal level.

The program created for the VATA Leadership Academy participants was based around DISC. DISC is a personality test that uses 4 distinct constructs to characterize an individual’s personality. The name DISC is an acronym for the constructs measured in the test: dominant, inspiring, supportive, cautious. The test measures your different levels of these constructs and provides you information about yourself, your personality, and how that can impact your interactions with others.

“Knowing all this about yourself can really help you navigate how you interact with other people,” said LEAD Team Consultant Jo Tuckley.

The seminar proved to be a big success for everyone involved. The trainers came from all walks of life. Some were employed at high schools and colleges while others were still in their master’s programs, but all of them were incredibly receptive to the material. The LEAD Team Consultants involved loved the work they did to help these professionals. Despite not working with students, they rose to the challenge and truly helped a number of professionals in the field of athletic training.

“The best part of the work I do is encourage people and help them understand that they are already amazing and have the capacity of being a leader,” said Jo. Clearly her work, and the work of her colleagues in the SLC has left a lasting impact on all the trainers involved.

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Published: Monday, November 15, 2021

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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