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Dear Parents & Families of First Year Students,

Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs

You’re receiving this letter because your first year student has advanced into the second semester!  Congratulations!  I’m sure your student is already thinking about next year.  The second year of college brings new challenges and opportunities.  We understand the experience can vary greatly depending on students’ initiative, their level of commitment to their chosen major, and their ability to explore different living options.  Some students experience a “sophomore slump” and worry about choosing a perfect major, while others begin to identify their passions, and get more involved in co-curricular activities to augment their leadership and life skills.  Some students remain in on-campus housing, understanding the benefits of living on campus, while others take the leap to off-campus living.  Moving off-campus may feel like the next step for some students, but they may feel disconnected from the campus community and need to seek resources to fill the void.  We are here to assist students in making the best choices for their future. 

At Colorado State University, we have developed a number of programs aimed at supporting students while they navigate making important life choices given their unique set of circumstances.  Specifically, Residence Life, Off-Campus Life, Orientation and Transition Programs and Undeclared Academic Advisors in the Center for Advising & Student Achievement offer a range of programs and services to support first and second year students including the Year 2 @ CSU Community in Laurel Village (offering all the benefits of living on-campus), a range of programs aimed at assisting students in exploring majors, and the Year 2 @ CSU program.  The Year 2 @ CSU program is designed to help second year students enhance or maintain their commitment to CSU through workshops at The Institute for Learning & Teaching (TILT), outdoor programs such as hiking, an outdoor trip to the CSU Mountain Campus, rock climbing, and outdoor service trips developed to listen to other second year students’ experiences.  First year students in their second semester are encouraged to start by participating in the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU events during the month of February, 2016.

As a Vice President and a parent of college students, I believe in the power of supporting students’ transitions from their first year to their second year through to graduation from Colorado State University.  While we communicate to students about the resources offered above, this newsletter is geared toward informing parents and families of the services dedicated to students moving into their second year.  Please take a few minutes to read through the articles and contact John Henderson, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Parent & Family Programs or Erin Hammersley, Coordinator of Parent & Family Programs with any questions you may have.  They can be reached at 970-491-6680 or by email at and   

Best wishes for a successful spring semester for your students.


Dr. Blanche Hughes
Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(970) 491-5312

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The Second Year Student Experience: A Time for Challenge & Opportunity

Year 2 Students

by Keith Lopez, Assistant Director, Orientation and Transition Programs

In terms of the transition into a second year of college, there are many things students need to navigate differently than what is experienced during the first year.  While there are clear challenges students face during this time, the second year of college provides students with the opportunity to reflect on purpose and make meaning out of what they are experiencing in college.

Challenges in the Second Year

Academic:  Some of the challenges students face in a second year include a “sophomore slump” which is marked by reduced motivation and or declining academic performance.  Other challenges for students during the second year can include entering into an intensified curriculum or a period in which academic difficulty increases as they begin to take courses in their major of study. This difficulty and/or exposure to courses in their major may cause second year students to reflect on their fit or interest with their selected major and at times, causes students to reflect on whether or not they’d like to change their major. Also, for students who remain undeclared, pressure to declare a major or a course of study may exist (some of this pressure is created by students’ social circles, university policies, and individual pressure to determine a focus for study).

Housing:  There are a multitude of housing options on campus for second year students.  For students who choose to move off-campus in their second year, there can be unique challenges associated with living off-campus for the first time.  These can include (but are not limited to): learning how to acquire basic life skills (paying bills, maintaining a clean living environment, working with landlords or leasing agents, living with multiple roommates, etc.) and maintaining a sustained connection to the CSU campus community. It’s important for students who move off-campus in their second year to find and maintain a connection to CSU instead of just arriving for class and then leaving to return home.

Values & Relationships:  The second year of college can be a time of intense reflection where students begin reflecting on their personal values and decisions, as well as their identity and peer relationships.  It isn’t unheard of for peer relationships to begin to change in a students’ second year, as they are no longer friends with the same individuals based off of convenience or proximity. Students will now have to work towards maintaining relationships with others, and at times the process of values clarification is related to the development of mature and meaningful interpersonal relationships.

Typical Issues Experienced in the Second Year:

  • Reduced motivation & declining academic performance
  • “Newness” has worn off and reality hits, leaving students feeling as if the institution is not as supportive as in the first year
  • Intensified curriculum
  • Choosing a major or degree path
  • Feelings of a lack of connection to campus
  • Peer challenges
  • Identity exploration
  • Time management and balancing levels of involvement

Opportunity in the Second Year

While these challenges can exist for students in the second year, this is also a time of increased opportunity for students.  The second year provides the opportunity for students to explore, figure out what they are passionate about and truly reflect on their purpose and how they are beginning to make meaning out of their college experience.  It allows students to seek out new opportunities on campus, new connections, new peer relationships, new confidence in who they are becoming as an adult, new ways to challenge themselves academically, and new ways to learn and grow as an individual.

Ways to Help Prepare Your Student for Their Second Year:

As the spring semester gets underway, below are some questions to ask your student as they begin to think about their second year of school:

  • What do you believe will be different between your first-year and second year?
  • How do you feel about your major?  Or if Undeclared, what are you passionate about?  What interests do you have? How does that relate to majors offered?
  • What is your relationship with your professors?  Your academic advisor?
  • How do you anticipate remaining connected to campus in your second year?  What are you looking forward to getting involved in?

Year 2 @ CSU: Second Year Program

Year 2 @ CSU is an entire program coordinated by Orientation and Transition Programs dedicated to students during their second year. Students have the opportunity to participate in Academic Transition Workshops, Faculty Dinners, Outdoor Experiences, an Alternative Spring Break, as well as receive monthly newsletters highlighting events across campus pertaining to second year students!  For more information, visit the Year 2 @ CSU website.

For additional information on second year programs, view the Students as Emerging Adults: A Transitions Guide for Parents & Families on the Parent & Family Programs website or contact Orientation and Transition Programs at (970) 491-6011 or e-mail ​

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Why Live Off-Campus Next Year, When You Can LiveOn!

Live on campus graphic

by Laura Giles, Director of Residence Life 

We know that some of the off-campus apartments offer very appealing incentives like hot tubs, tanning beds, and flat screen TVs when students sign a lease.  The campus newspaper has been full of ads enticing students to live in various apartment communities and rental properties around Fort Collins. As we in Housing & Dining Services offer residence hall students the option to return to the halls next fall, we thought it would be helpful to provide some information and discussion points to help you and your student decide which housing option is the best fit.

We often hear rumors that we have no space in the halls for returning students or that no returning students live on campus. Here are some myth-busters that may help clarify campus housing options for returning students.

Myth: the halls are only for first year students.

Fact: we have more than 1,200 spaces to offer to returning and transfer students. Returning students get first choice of premium spaces including singles, doubles-as-single, and new and recently renovated halls.

Myth: no returning/upper class students live in the halls.

Fact: over 20% of the students in the halls are returning, transfer, and upper class students and we’d like to see that number grow. We have designated communities and wings set aside for returning and transfer students so they can live with other upper class students.

Myth: dining plans don’t offer returning students enough flexibility.

Fact: the U Plan, offered only to returning and transfer students, offers maximum flexibility with just 5 meals per week, 20 bonus meals, and $150 RamCash. New and recently renovated student kitchens in the halls provide space for students to cook when they want to and the dining centers offer balanced meals for students when they need them.

Most importantly, on campus housing has a different focus (think higher GPAs and more likely to be retained at CSU)! 

Important dates:

  • December 7 - February 29: Open selection; all students may select any available space
  • Cancel on or before March 31 without penalty

We hope this information is useful as you and your student discuss living options for next year. If you have any questions about campus living options, please visit our website, email us at, or call (970) 491-4719.

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Year 2 @ CSU Residential Community in Laurel Village

Rendering of Laurel Village

by Teresa Metzger, Assistant Director of Residence Life for Academic Initiatives, Housing & Dining Services and Keith Lopez, Assistant Director for Transition Programs, Orientation and Transition Programs

Orientation and Transition Programs (OTP) and Residence Life are excited to be offering the Year 2 @ CSU: Residential Experience Community in the newly constructed Laurel Village. This unique opportunity is available to second-year students who want to return to the halls and possess an interest in making the most out of their second year at CSU. Forty suite-style rooms are designated for students to engage in this community that is focused on the second year experience. 

The overall purpose of the Year 2 @ CSU: Residential Experience is to create a themed living community geared towards the educational goals of second year students living in the residence halls. Specifically, the community focuses on outreach, programming and learning connected to the following areas:

  • Career & Major Exploration
  • Global Citizenship & Service
  • Academic Engagement
  • Outdoor Adventure

Students living on the floor are required to sign a learning agreement and connect with each other through academic workshops, a required fall outdoor mountain retreat, service projects (including one required spring service project), and a variety of floor outings. These activities create a community atmosphere specific to second year students and allow for students who participate to further explore their purpose here at CSU.  There are no supplemental courses required to participate in this community. Any first-year student is welcome to apply to live in this exciting new community! For more information on this residential community, visit:

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Is Your Student Ready to Move Off Campus?

photo of an apartment lease

by Emily Allen, Off-Campus Life & Laura Giles, Residence Life

In chatting with today’s CSU student, they share that they spend a great deal of time prior to coming to CSU considering which residence hall to choose. Some of the things they considered were: how close would it be to my classes; what have I heard about it; does it have the best dining center? Fast forward to today, and now that same choosey student can only think of one thing: I want to live off campus… anywhere off campus.

Has your student truly spent time thinking about all that comes with renting off campus and are they ready for the leap?  There are several things to consider when making the move off campus.  If your student wants to live in a single family home, are they ready to shovel snow off the side walk (even over the break)? Do they know that a noise complaint off campus comes with a citation upwards of $1,000 and a criminal misdemeanor on their record? Roommate conflicts (often stemming from “who ate my expensive Greek yogurt?!”) can’t be solved by moving rooms, and often results in having to break an expensive lease.  Do they realize that Resident Assistants (RAs) won’t be the ones knocking at their door when there is a complaint? Your student’s new “RAs” are Fort Collins Police Officers.

This article isn’t meant to scare you and your student.  It’s meant to provide some discussion questions (below) to help guide a conversation with your student to help determine if they are ready to live off campus or would benefit from another year on campus.

  • Is your student ready to negotiate a lease with a landlord and handle any financial or legal issues that may arise from late payments, lease violations, poor property management, or sub-leasing policies?
  • Will your student be able to manage apartment/house maintenance (may include yard work, shoveling snow, making minor repairs and/or contacting landlord to report needed repairs)?
  • Does your student have the skills to interact with neighbors and handle potential noise complaints with roommates and/or violations with Fort Collins Police?
  • Does your student have a good plan for commuting to and from campus? Are they prepared to wake up earlier for class and make contingency plans in case of inclement weather, a delayed bus, etc.?
  • Is your student financially ready to balance rent payments, split utilities with roommates, and budget for expenses related to meals, internet, cable, and home maintenance?
  • Is your student prepared to cook meals, go grocery shopping, handle kitchen clean-up and dishes, and/or negotiate food-sharing with roommates?
  • Is your student committed to setting quiet hours and designated study times to ensure that academics remain front and center off campus? If they encounter academic challenges, are they prepared and willing to seek appropriate resources on their own?

Here are some considerations to discuss with your student about remaining on campus:

  • Students who live on campus for a second year have higher GPAs, are more likely to be retained by CSU, and are more likely to graduate.
  • On campus residents have built-in resources that include RAs, academic support, health/mental health support, and easy access to The Rec, the library, and sporting and cultural events.​​​
  • Room and board billing is charged directly to student accounts with no roommate negotiations for utilities or unexpected expenses.
  • Returning students get first choice of premium rooms on campus and your student can still live with their friends (even if they want a single room) by choosing rooms in the same suite, the same floor, or the same hall.
  • Returning students are eligible for the U Plan (dining plan with just 5 meals per week). The halls also offer student kitchens for students who would like cook on occasion and have the dining center available at other times.  

If you and your student are interested in exploring a second year living experience on campus, please visit the Live On website for details, important dates, and incentives available for next fall. Room selection is currently open and closes on February 29, 2016.  We encourage you to select your room early so that you have the best selections available. Questions about off-campus living can be directed to Off-Campus Life, (970) 491-2248.  

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Getting to Year 2 @ CSU 

Getting to Year 2 at CSU graphic

by Addy Rastall, Graduate Assistant, Orientation & Transition Programs

Getting to Year 2 @ CSU is a month-long campaign for first-year students (in their second semester) to help them transition to a second year at CSU. Getting to Year 2 @ CSU provides students with the information they need to successfully transition by offering resources for housing, continued academic success, involvement opportunities, and more. This program will take place throughout the month of February 2016 and will consist of a variety of opportunities for students to begin the process of thinking about how they will maintain and enhance their connection to CSU in their second year as well as provide incentives for students to attend the events.

2016 Getting to Year 2 @ CSU events: 

  • Housing Fair:
    • Wednesday, February 10, 2016, LSC Ballroom (9am-4pm)
  • Getting to Year 2 Workshops:
    • Tuesday, February 16 & Wednesday, February 17, 2016, LSC (11am-2pm)
  • Class of 2019 Night with CSU Ram Events - Comedy Works:
    • Wednesday, February 17, 2016, LSC Theatre (Time TBD)
  • Class of 2019 Day at CSU Men's Basketball Game:
    • Saturday, February 20, 2016, Moby Arena (2pm)
  • Year 2 @ CSU Chat with the Year 2 @ CSU Board:
    • Tuesday, February 23, 2016 (Online)
  • Exploring Majors Fair:
    • Wednesday, February 24, 2016, LSC Ballroom D (11am-2pm)
  • Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Fair:
    • Wednesday, February 24, 2016, LSC Ballroom A&B (11am-2pm)
For more information or an updated schedule, visit the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU  website or call Orientation and Transition Programs at (970) 491-6011.

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Students Explore Major, Minor, and Career Options at Annual Fair

Caitlin Kotnik, Academic Success Coordinator with the Center for Advising and Student Achievement

Students may feel overwhelmed as they consider the 100+ major options and 80+ minors offered at CSU. The Center for Advising and Student Achievement (CASA) hopes to take the guesswork out of this research by hosting its annual Exploring Majors Fair from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24 in the Lory Student Center, Ballroom D.

This event brings more than 20 academic departments and colleges, advisors, and the Career Center together in one convenient location so students can shop around for an academic area of study that fits their interests, skills, and values. Attendees will have the opportunity to take a personality assessment; talk one-on-one with undeclared advisors, department representatives, and upper-class students currently enrolled in majors; and connect with career educators about career preparation.

“The Exploring Majors Fair is a fun, collaborative, and easygoing time,” said CASA advisor Elliot Cooper. “I love sitting down with students, talking about their stories, and helping to connect them with colleges and departments that might help them feel confident to make a good choice for themselves.”

While one-third of first-year students enroll at CSU as undeclared every year, more than half of first-year students change their majors at least once during their college career. Undeclared students and students exploring majors make up an incredibly diverse population. This event is intended to be beneficial for students who are just beginning to consider their interests, investigating second majors or minors, or changing major directions altogether.

Students are encouraged to declare a major by 45 credits (typically halfway through their second year) to maintain a timely graduation and to guarantee classes will count toward their degree. Encourage your student to attend the Exploring Majors Fair and meet with CASA staff to support them in making a confident decision! 

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Considering Moving Off-Campus? Keep All Your Transportation Options Open

Aaron Fodge, Alternative Transportation Manager, Parking & Transportation Services 

The First Move Off-Campus is a Significant Life Decision

There is nothing more exciting than selecting your first apartment or house after your first year of college.  It is fun to get wrapped up in the decisions about how many bedrooms to secure for your apartment, or who you might live with. Unfortunately, these decisions often outweigh the more impactful opportunity:  How can my student limit the amount of time and money spent on the commute to CSU?

Consider this first decision to move off-campus a test-run for the major financial decision to come after a student graduates. 

Consider Commuting Expenses

Where a student decides to live, whether a student rents or owns the property - is a significant life decision.  The distance between where a student lives and where a student travels daily influences a monthly budget for living expenses, but also dictates how much time a student will need to spend commuting when time could be spent on other tasks.

Too often, a young professional will consider only the cost of their rent when making a decision on where to live with respect to their campus or employer.  The chance to save, let’s say, $100 per month on rent by living farther away from campus is quickly lost to a CSU parking permit, fuel, auto insurance and maintenance.  Many find the cheaper rent decision actually led to an increase in monthly expenses.

How Can My Student Limit Commuting Expenses When Selecting a Rental?

Generally, a decision to live closer to campus will provide you a greater opportunity to reduce your transportation expenses and commuting time while attending Colorado State University.  The table below compares the decision to live closer or farther away from campus.

The CLOSER you live to campus…

The FARTHER away you live to campus…

  • The more transportation OPTIONS (walk, bike, transit routes, longboard) are available to you
  • The less TIME you will spend commuting when you could be doing something else, like studying
  • The more MONEY you will save on car-related expenses (fuel, insurance, maintenance)
  • The less likely you will need to pay for an on-campus PARKING PASS
  • The greater the opportunity to EXERCISE while you commute by bicycle, longboard, and walking
  • The FEWER transportation options (walk, bike, transit routes, longboard) are available to you
  • The MORE time you will spend driving when you could be doing something else like studying
  • The LESS money you will save on car-related expenses (fuel, insurance, maintenance)
  • The increased likelihood you will need to PAY for an on-campus parking pass
  • The more DIFFICULT it becomes to walk, bicycle, or longboard because of the longer commute time

Transportation Considerations When Living Off-Campus

Ultimately, your decision about where to live is about work-life balance. Where you live will dictate how much time you spend at work, with your family, at play, and … commuting.  Embrace this test-run as a chance for your student to learn about a desired work-life balance before making the major financial decision to come after you graduate and get your first job. Just below are noted great ways to promote balance and save money by using alternative transportation.  Also, Walkscore is a great resource that can be used for obtaining information about proximity to common and popular locations (grocery store, coffee shop, parks, etc.) based on the location of the property.

  • Transit or Bus –Your RamCard allows you to ride all local buses for FREE.  Look to see how close your rental is to the local bus line to campus. The largest frequency of routes is west of campus.  The MAX bus system creates easier commuting opportunities from the north and south.  Some apartment complexes now offer their own shuttles to campus. For more information, visit to confirm where the routes are located.  Download the RideTransfort app to quickly find out when the next bus comes to your rental
  • Bike – CSU and Fort Collins are recognized nationally as one of three Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Universities and Communities, respectively.  Select a rental close to a bike trail or bike lane for a safer commute to campus while providing access to recreation.  On campus, we have over 10 miles of bike trails and over 15,000 bike rack spaces to lock your bike during your classes.  Use the city’s bike map to confirm your rental is near a bike trail or lane:
  • Zipcar Carsharing The biggest commuter cost savings comes when you leave your car home.  CSU and many off-campus properties now host Zipcars—vehicles you can rent hourly for quick trips to the grocery store or a trip to the mountains with your roommates.  Pay for a Zipcar only when you need one. Register for a Zipcar Membership before you move in so you are ready to drive when you need one: 
  • Carpool – Why drive alone?  Split the cost of driving (parking pass, fuel, insurance) by carpooling with someone that lives close to you.  Register for a carpool parking permit here:   
  • LongboardLongboards can travel almost as fast as a bicycle and provide a wonderful exercise opportunity commuting to campus.  CSU has lockers placed across campus for you to securely lock your longboard.  Read more about the laws for proper Longboarding in Colorado:

For more information about transportation-related questions at Colorado State University, please contact Parking and Transportation Services at 970-491-7600 or visit:

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What's Happening at CSU Related to Year 2 @ CSU

Below is a list of the upcoming events related to the Year 2 @ CSU initiative.

  • Housing Fair:
    • Wednesday, February 10, 2016, LSC Ballroom (9am-4pm)
  • Getting to Year 2 Workshops:
    • Tuesday, February 16 & Wednesday, February 17, 2016, LSC (11am-2pm)
  • Class of 2019 Night with CSU Ram Events - Comedy Works:
    • Wednesday, February 17, 2016, LSC Theatre (Time TBD)
  • Class of 2019 Day at CSU Men's Basketball Game:
    • Saturday, February 20, 2016, Moby Arena (2pm)
  • Year 2 @ CSU Chat with the Year 2 @ CSU Board:
    • Tuesday, February 23, 2016 (Online)
  • Exploring Majors Fair:
    • Wednesday, February 24, 2016, LSC Ballroom D (11am-2pm)
  • Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Fair:
    • Wednesday, February 24, 2016, LSC Ballroom A&B (11am-2pm)

Connecting With Us On Social Media

As many of you know, Parent & Family Programs is on Facebook! If you like our page using the image below, you will be kept up to date with happenings around campus, and important information regarding campus emergencies. You can also connect with other parents and families in this group! Thanks for partnering with us to help your student succeed at CSU!

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