sealPurdue Lifestyles Briefs

September 1997

Even veteran students can feel stress as school resumes

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The start of a new school year can be a time of eager anticipation or high anxiety for an elementary school student.

Youngsters have concerns about school whether they are attending kindergarten for the first time or are veteran third-graders.

"Young children can worry about getting lost in their school building, about their parents being available during the school day, or whether there will be someone who wants to play with them at recess," explains Douglas Powell, head of the Department of Child Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. "Often young children do not talk about these concerns in detail, or even at all, and parents need to watch for subtle clues in passing comments and questions."

Powell says parents have several options for making the transition from summer vacation to structured school day easier for the entire family. He recommends a visit to the school building and new classroom before classes begin, and an introduction to the teacher, principal or school secretary.

"A familiar face can be very reassuring on the first day of school," Powell says, "particularly in a 'new school' situation. If possible, help the child meet other students of similar age who could perhaps even be in the same class."

Powell also suggests:

If the child is in the habit of sleeping late during the summer, Powell says parents should begin to adjust bedtime and wake-up hours a few weeks before school starts so there is not an abrupt change during the first week of classes.

"The most important thing is for parents to talk in positive and concrete ways with the child about what school might be like; and to emphasize that teachers are there to help the child learn and do new things," Powell says.
CONTACT: Powell, (765) 494-9511; e-mail,

Some college credit is undesirable, finance expert says

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Parents can add credit cards to the list of grades, peer pressure and other things they worry about when their son or daughter leaves for college.

A Purdue University professor says parents need to discuss credit management with their children before the students head off to school, even if the children don't have credit cards. She says chances are good they'll get one at school.

"When the students get to campus, they are bombarded with credit card offers," says Charlene Sullivan, associate professor of management. "Often these cards are offered along with free stuff, like T-shirts, travel perks and soft drinks. As a parent, I would tell my child to buy his own soft drinks and stay out of debt."

Sullivan says it's a good idea for students to have one credit card for occasional use and emergencies. And she says she believes that young adults should learn how to use credit responsibly. But she suggests that the card be issued from a hometown bank and be subject to parental monitoring.

"The trouble starts when students are issued their own credit cards with huge lines of credit and they begin to live beyond their means," Sullivan says. "It's easy to do and can snowball very quickly."

For instance, if a student racks up a balance of $1,000 at 18 percent annual interest, he's paying an average of $15 per month in interest. If he only makes the $10 per month minimum payment, the balance will actually increase each month.

From a business perspective, Sullivan says, students are a very desirable target for credit card companies.

"The assumption is that college graduates eventually will have an above-average income and be more future and investment oriented," Sullivan says. "So, if I were a credit card marketer, I would think, what better pool to put my fishing pole into?"

The truth, according to Sullivan, is that many college graduates are starting their careers with a lot of debt.

"I know a parent whose son had $25,000 in credit card debt when he graduated from college," Sullivan says. "He finally had to tell his parents, who helped him restructure the credit with a lower rate to keep their son from filing bankruptcy. Students don't realize how credit trouble can follow them. If you have poor credit, it can affect your housing options and your ability to buy a car, and some employers even check credit records to see how an applicant has handled his finances."
CONTACT: Sullivan, (765) 494-4382; e-mail,

It's easy to reduce chemical exposure on golf courses, expert says

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- To most golfers, chemical use by the local golf course is one method to keep the grass green and the course in good playing condition. To others, it appears to be a threat to the environment -- or, even worse, to their own health.

Not to worry, says Clark Throssell, professor of agronomy at Purdue University and co-director of Purdue's Turfgrass Research and Diagnostic Center. He says golf courses are environmentally friendly, and golfers who are concerned about contact with the chemicals can take a few simple precautions to reduce exposure.

According to Throssell, most pesticides are applied wet, and if they dry before coming into contact with people, they will not easily come off the vegetation.

"Research has shown that once the pesticide dries on the leaf of the turf grass plant, you really can't just casually brush it off," Throssell says. "To get any pesticide residue at all you have to take a rough cloth and vigorously rub the grass leaf. Obviously, no one out playing golf is going to do that in the course of a round."

For those who want to restrict their exposure to pesticides and chemical fertilizers, Throssell has these additional tips:

CONTACT: Throssell, (765) 494-4785

Compiled by Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723; e-mail;
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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