Resources for Family & Friends
We know that our students’ success is uplifted by the help, caring, and love of their family and friends. Your help for our students is so sincerely appreciated, and we hope that the resources below can better assist you in supporting them on their college journey, as well as providing you with positive resources as you walk with them on their journey, too!
Supporting Your Student
We definitely understand: supporting your student is your #1 priority, and it’s ours too! The Residence Life and Housing Office has worked hard on the resources below to give you tools to support your new or returning Paul Smith’s College student during their time at the College. We have reached out to dozens of previous parents, family, and friends of students and gathered questions (plus answers) to common queries about student support from loved ones.
Q: How do I best support my student while they’re at PSC?
A: That is a great question, though definitely one without a clear-cut answer. Every student is a unique individual with their own needs, struggles, triumphs, and more. But, we do have a few tips on great ways to best assist your student!
Support & Explore: It is natural to want everything perfect and streamlined for your student, after all, they’re working hard at college! It is also tempting to desire to do things for them to ensure this is the case: but, it is not recommended. When students run against friction, perhaps a roommate tiff, or struggling a bit in class, our Paul Smith’s College faculty and staff are prepared to support them and allow them to do so in a way that helps them grow. You may find your student is nervous or unwilling to call or email about a struggle they are having. A great way to support them would not be to call for them, as this doesn’t help them grow, but instead help them learn accountability and still provide support by discussing what is happening, leading them to resources such as office email addresses, and supporting their decisions: even if these are not going in the timeline you may expect.
For example, it is very tempting to call on your students’ behalf when they are upset with their roommate. But, this can be a problem: your student didn’t learn or get to experience reaching out about their issue with the office(s) that can best assist them. They may also feel discouraged to do so in the future, since it was done for them in the past. Likewise, the experience of working through person-to-person conflict hasn’t been as effectively addressed and the student hasn’t learned the valuable inter-personal communication skill a variety of departments are working to help them learn. Allowing a student to develop their own sense of identity through working through struggles is a valuable skill that they will need in their everyday life as well as in their professional careers.
Give & Take: Not every situation is cut-and-dry, or easy to work through. Sometimes, despite best efforts all around, students may continue to be reluctant to seek out support or helpful connections. This can be very frustrating for family and friends alike, but is natural. There may be situations where your student is not seeking out assistance in a situation that may seem very simple to you, but for them, something is in the way from reaching out or doing it. Things like stress, nervousness, and many other factors can be at play in this dynamic and make tasks like reaching out about an issue not get done.
In this moment, more than ever, it becomes even more tempting to reach out on behalf of the student to a resource on campus. But, again, this can be very problematic for a variety of reasons. While the temptation to “fix” an issue for your student may be growing and growing at this point, communicating for them is not necessarily the answer. Frequently, family members or friends will call on a student’s behalf on an issue, and will ask our department to “not tell the student (they) called.” This action often causes stress and may create a feeling of lack of confidence from family/friends by the student. It also may insight a bit of distrust in the student, and communication in a positive way may become more challenging.
Instead, we recommend staying positive and being patient with your student as they learn to support themselves. Try to talk to them about what is happening, though know they may not tell you everything. Stay positive: your support can do wonders! Even if your student is not super open about a topic that they’re struggling with, encourage them gently and lead them to resources that may help them. It can seem like a daunting task for students to seek contact information for a helpful resource: consider talking with them about who or where they think they can find assistance on campus. Also, consider looking with them at the available online resources departments have created and the contact information for these relevant offices. Offering to practice what your student plans to discuss with a faculty or staff member, or offering to proofread an email, can help students recognize they have your support while also giving them the space to learn to try. Gently following up now and then can also encourage your student to continue to seek support both with those at the College and with you!
A variety of offices have helpful webpages. Here are a few we recommend looking into!
Academic and Career Success: Tutoring, academic probation, career services, and the like.
Accommodative Services: Accommodations, disability services, and lots more.
Campus Safety: Parking needs, general security, and similar topics can be found here.
Counseling Center: Connect with professionals on-campus for support (services are confidential).
Dining Services: Have food-related needs like allergies or restrictions? They can help!
Financial Aid: Get answers to questions regarding paying for college, loans, etc.
Health Services: Feel well, be well, and get connected to local health agents in the area if needed.
Registrar: Class schedules, registration, transcripts, and similar needs can be found here.
Residence Life and Housing: All things about living on campus, including work orders (hey, it’s us)!
Student Accounts: Need to pay or adjust a bill? This office can assist.
Student Activities: Getting involved helps students succeed.
General Directory: Can’t find it listed here? The Directory can assist you.
Help & Heart: Not every issue is one that can be waited on, and some require direct action or support from family and friends, in addition to the diligence provided by our campus’ trained staff and faculty. If you are concerned for your student’s immediate well-being or safety (for example, concerns about self-harm, suicidal ideation, danger of harm, sexual assault, and similar), please immediately contact the Campus Safety Office. Their phone number is 518-327-6300 and they are available 24/7. Our campus’ Campus Safety Officers are highly-trained, compassionate individuals who want to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone on our campus.
At times, your student may go without communicating with family and friends for a little while, or longer than you may be used to. This is usually just a natural response to becoming more independent and also being busy with school work, clubs, a job, and even just catching up on sleep. If you have not heard from your student in a significant length of time, or notice a sharp decrease in communication that is worrying or out of character, attempt to reach out to your student. This may also be a time to reach out to Campus Safety if you are very concerned.
There may come a time when your student has not reached out to those who could assist and support them on campus, and their studies may be hurting for it. We still encourage family and friends to not reach out on behalf of the student (unless it is an emergency), and encourage loved ones to remember students are independent and the path of learning is ultimately theirs to walk. Conversations that remain positive and supportive, rather than angry or accusatory, are helpful– especially in-person. Discussing goals, desired outcomes, and plans of actions can help students and their loved ones work to figure out how to help the student succeed, or decide if taking a break may be best. There’s no denying it: conversations like these can be tough to have sometimes. Loved ones and students are encouraged to write down their thoughts and communicate in person. Additionally, communicating with the student’s adviser and/or those in the Academic and Career Success Center is advised: these friendly folks are here to help!
Takeaways: In essence, we recommend allowing your student to hold the reigns of their experience and encourage family and friends to provide direct support as their student grows while at Paul Smith’s College. Allowing your student to guide their experience helps them develop a sense of independence, self-efficacy, accountability, and shape their identity. The faculty, staff, administrators, and peers of your student are working to help them grow and succeed. Students may wobble, stumble, and even trip: but with your help, their hard work, and the care given to them by the College, they won’t fall!
Resources for Family & Friends
You may be on the hunt for information that relates directly to you, the parents, family, and friends of those studying at the College! We have compiled a list of resources that may be exactly what you’re looking for in one easy to access spot.
There are a variety of important-to-know dates that can help you support your student and keep you in the know. Check out the College’s Calendar to learn more about important upcoming items such as when students will leave the residence halls for breaks, when class registration is, and more. Dates are subject to change: your student will likely receive emails and see posters if this is the case.
Permission to Share Information:
This is a big one! Not all information about your student is able to be freely given, even if you are a parent or guardian. FERPA essentially protects your student’s information from the time they enter college, regardless of their age, and prohibits others from accessing it. This includes information about grades, student conduct, classes, and more. Please note that as a family member or friend, even if you are assisting in financing their schooling, offices cannot and will not release certain information to you, unless your student has chosen to fill out a FERPA Educational Records Release in its entirety, and returned it to the Registrar’s Office. If this form is completed, a “password” is required by on-campus offices to release information to specifically-named individuals on the form. If you do not correctly give that password or are not an individual named on the release, the information will not be given to you.
Helping to Pay:
Many families support their student financially and therefore have questions about paying for college, loans, billing, and more. If you have a question regarding billing, connect with the Student Accounts Office. For questions regarding financial items such as loans, grants, and scholarships, reach out to the Financial Aid Office. Please note that some information may not be able to be dispersed unless a FERPA Waiver (above) has been filled out.
Smitty Pride is huge on campus, and students and their loved ones alike enjoy representing their campus. If you’d like to purchase PSC-related gear you can any time by going to the Online College Store! The College Store is located in the lowest floor of the Student Center: you can find it by heading down the stairs and making a left, and following the hallway. In addition to college gear, the College Store also sells useful items for residential living, textbooks, snacks, and more.
Our campus partners offer direct-to-college care packages at affordable prices, be they for a birthday, and pick-me-up, or a celebration! Order directly from the OCM website via this link, then click on “Gifts and Care Packages” in the upper center of the screen. These gifts can be picked up at the College Store by the student. They are not delivered to the student’s room or to their mailbox when ordered here.
If you are looking to mail something to your student, be it snail mail or a package, you can do so via our Student Mailroom. If you are planning to mail to a student who has not yet started college, please be careful, as mail to students who are not yet assigned a student mailbox will be returned to sender. The most detailed information can be found in our new student “Explore” tab under “Student Mailroom.” If you plan to send your student a package, we recommend letting them know, as students have a habit of not checking their mail! Please take care if you are shipping items that are time-sensitive or perishable.
Your student may be looking for off-campus resources, such as where to get their car fixed up, visiting a nearby DMV, and more! We recommend checking for these resources via the internet (Google) though know that a search is only as good as the spot you look for it in! Here is helpful information for you that may refine your search query. Local town and city names include:
Nearby Towns: Brighton, NY | Gabirels, NY | Harrietstown, NY | Saranac Lake, NY | Bloomingdale, NY |
Nearer Cities: Lake Placid, NY | Malone, NY | Plattsburgh, NY
Farther Out: Wilmington, NY | Keene, NY | Saranac, NY | Potsdam, NY
Safety & Alerts
Student safety and well-being is a priority here at Paul Smith’s College. Here are some quick-link tools to help you get information on safety, getting campus-related alerts, and more.
Bobcat Alert System:
The Bobcat Alert System is an automated tool that can be signed up for, where individuals will receive emergency and weather-related alerts. Sign up for this system at this link.
The Campus Safety Office has a number of resources available on its website, which can be found at this link. Campus Safety is available 24/7 and is located at the center of the campus. These friendly staff members do frequent patrols of campus and are easy to talk to — they love connecting with the students they serve! Their phone number is 518-327-6300.
Cars & Winter Driving:
It’s no secret: Paul Smith’s College gets a lot of snow each year! With this in mind, we highly encourage students with cars to prepare for the weather and be mindful of driving. Even if your student is familiar with snow, encourage them to take heed: the area near PSC is rural and may not be maintained in snow in a way they are used to. Taking it slow and driving carefully is a must in snowy or icy conditions. All students should strongly consider having at least a snow brush/scraper in their car, as well as a shovel of some sort. Campus parking lots are plowed, but individual spaces are not. Students can borrow shovels from Facilities provided supplies are available. Likewise, students should consider an appropriate car emergency kit, consisting of: jumper cables, first aid kit, road flares or triangles, water, blanket (“space” blankets recommended), and clean cat litter. Cat litter can help stuck tires or those in a small rut gain traction.
Many students consider getting snow tires on their cars, even if they have all-weather tires. This is highly recommended, as snow tires are usually more pliable and “grip” to the road better in cold conditions. These tires can be installed at a variety of locations, and many allow the original tires to be stored at the store’s location. Tires cannot be stored in the residence halls. Some students desire to have studded tires, which can grip to icy (not snowy) conditions better than other tires. These tires may be of benefit, but note that the local area demands these tires to be removed by April.
Local gas stations are most available in Saranac Lake, which is about 17 miles from the College. Students should be careful to make note they have enough gas to get into town to refill. A small, new convenience store in Gabriels, NY offers a single pump at a higher cost if students should need it. Students who do not have enough gas to get into Saranac Lake may take advantage of this pump for a gallon or two on their way there. Local gas stations can be found at this link.
Keys and Room Access:
Residence Halls cannot be accessed by those who do not live there; all front doors correspond only to their respective inhabitants’ keys or swipe cards. Students in buildings with keys are given a single set of keys for their respective buildings. Those in Overlook, Upper St. Regis, Lower St. Regis, and Lambert Halls are given a swipe card every year that acts as their student ID and is programmed to open their building, suite, and room doors. These keys are swipe-style. Those who have lost a key should report the loss to the Residence Life and Housing Office as soon as possible to have it replaced for a fee. Lost ID cards are also replaced by the Campus Safety Office for a fee. These fees are not due in cash, but instead appear on the student’s bill at the end of the year/semester.
The Residence Life and Housing Office always recommends that students lock their room doors, in the interest of protecting their property. It is recommended to lock room doors when not present. Some doors, such as suite doors and bedroom doors, lock automatically. The College recommends not propping open external doors or keeping the door open for those who do not live in the building or if an individual does not know them, in the interest of safety for the community.
The Office of Campus Safety monitors buildings throughout campus with live cameras, positioned in various locations. These cameras are used in the interest of safety and security for our students, staff, and faculty.
Please note that weapons, including those for the purpose of safety or defense, are not welcome on the Campus. These include firearms, knives (over 3 inches), pepper spray, “brass knuckles”, and similar. If you have questions about what is welcome on campus, contact Campus Safety at 518-327-6300 before you bring these items.
Paul Smith’s College is located in the heart of the Adirondack Park in upstate New York. If you are planning to come to campus for move-in dates, to pick up your student on a break, or just to visit, check out the information below!
Visiting Your Student:
Make sure you let your student know before you visit, as you may find they are busy working on a project or test, or may not even be home! Family and friends of students have a variety of accommodations locally to choose from throughout the year. The winter and high summer seasons in the area see increased tourism and may limit some availability in hotels. Popular hotel locations include those in Saranac Lake (15 minutes), Lake Placid (25 minutes), Malone (30 minutes), Tupper Lake (30 minutes), and Plattsburgh (60 minutes). Here is a link to local hotels in the area. The College does not endorse these listings: this link is for convenience.
Accommodations are not available for rent (“hotel-style”) at the College. Visitors, including family and friends, are able to stay per the campus’ guest policy: to learn more about the guest policy, see the “How Long Can My Guest Stay? How Do I Register My Guest?” question on the “Current Student Resources” tab. Please check in with your student regarding parents/family/friends staying on campus, as your student will need to get approval from their roommates/suitemates before hosting guests. Please note guests may never stay/sleep in lounges, hallways, public spaces, or in suite living rooms.
Getting to PSC:
Planning to visit, or to pick up your student for a break, or sending your student home? No sweat. We recommend planning your visit via a map service such as Google Maps or a similar app for directions if traveling by car. If you are far from campus, services such as Amtrak trains and Greyhound busses are popular options.
The closest flight departure areas are Albany International Airport (3 hours), Burlington International Airport (2.2 hours), and the limited Saranac Lake Airport which travels only to Boston, MA. For breaks that require students to leave campus, the Student Activities Office offers a discounted van shuttle to the Albany International Airport and Albany Bus Station. Information about these services is distributed to students in advance of breaks and payment is collected through Student Accounts.
A ride share board is available for students to seek rides with peers on the lowest floor of the Student Center, near the Residence Life and Housing Office and is operated by the Student Government Association. Information about local Uber/Lyft drivers is also available in this area.
Things To Do:
There is a lot to do in this area, both on and off-campus. If you are visiting and wish to maximize your experience in the area, take a look into internet recommendations in the Adirondack Park. Popular spots include visiting the VIC trails and amenities just a mile from campus; visiting Saranac Lake and its charming downtown areas; and visiting the shops in Lake Placid or the Olympic areas there.
While you visit, your options for meals are as vast as the Adirondack Park! Off-campus favorites can be found here. On campus, meals from the Dining Hall can be purchased via cash or credit/debit card. The Dining Hall has a large number of options including those for individuals with dietary restrictions or allergies. The Hutch, a small cafe located in the Library, has to-go treats such as coffee, breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, soups, and more.
If you’re fixing for a snack, the on-campus College Store has a wide array of treats available from packaged cookies, candies, chips, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and frozen meals. The campus Bakery, operated by students in various culinary programs, is available during the semester and sells hand-made treats of a wide variety. Their menu varies, but popular snacks include homemade doughnuts, croissants, buffalo chicken pastries, and so much more. These two establishments accept cash and credit/debit with a $5 minimum purchase.
Looking for a fancier fare? The Ganzi restaurant is hosted by various culinary students as part of their studies. This fine-dining option combines high-end fare and great prices. Please be sure to make a reservation, as this fare is well-loved by students, staff, and locals alike!
Cell Phone Coverage
You may be wondering why we have an entire tab devoted to cell phone coverage for the area. The answer is: we want you and your student to be prepared!
Q: Does my student have to have a cell phone?
A: They do not have to have a cell phone to be at PSC, but one is extremely strongly recommended. We recommend students have a cell phone of some type so they can be contacted in an emergency and so they have reliable access to connect to on-campus entities if they desire. It can be very hard to get in touch with students if they do not have a working cell phone number.
Q: What provider(s) work best in this area?
A: Currently, the only provider that works in this area is Verizon and providers that use Verizon towers. Service in the immediate Paul Smith’s area is severely limited to Verizon, and non-Verizon plans operate poorly going towards the Saranac Lake and Malone area at times. A strong Verizon tower is located near campus and provides reliable 3G and 4G coverage.
Q: What should we do if our student doesn’t have Verizon?
A: This is definitely up to preference, though we always recommend your student have a cell phone and have a cell phone plan that includes cellular service, and not just operates via wifi.
Some families and students opt to change their service to Verizon. This can be a more expensive option, and we recommend communicating with a Verizon representative as well as a representative of whichever company you are currently using.
If you desire to keep a non-Verizon phone but desire to have a phone that is operational via Verizon in this area while your student is at the College, a popular option is their “Prepaid” plan. These plans are generally less expensive than bundles or contract options and can offer free, modern phones. Generally, phones are purchased up front or with financing, as they are not under contract. A popular bundle offers a free iPhone 6 with this payment option. These do not require cards or adding “minutes.” More information can be found here.
Trac Phones and similar styles (such as Cricut, if they operate under Verizon towers) are popular “second” phones used by students while at the College. Trac Phones are more modern than ever and offer newer, higher-end models of phones though coverage can be a bit less strong. However, it does generally support coverage on campus.
Q: What are other cell-phone recommendations you have?
A: This is a great question! A big, BIG thing our office recommends students do is ensure their voicemail is set up and that it is not full. We often run into issues with student cell phones where we cannot leave a message because it isn’t set up or is full. Students don’t always check their emails, so sometimes this means they don’t get needed information as timely as we wish they would!
Also, we recommend contacting the College if your and/or your student’s phone number changes, as we may reach out. Another big tip: have your student bring two charging cables for their cell phone. These fray, break, and get lost easily! 🙂
Q: What phone service is available if a student has no cell?
A: Public phones are not available on campus, except in the Library entryway which can make local calls. We again highly recommend all students have a working cell phone for this purpose. Generally speaking, offices (including ours) cannot act as a liaison between callers and students as we do not have the space or capacity to receive these calls or give space to make them. In emergencies, students can connect with faculty and staff and use phones if needed.
If a student has a cell phone number, but the phone doesn’t operate with cellular power (for example, it is an AT&T phone that cannot make calls), a less ideal but workable option can be found in wireless calling options. These can include Google Voice, a free Google Service, that gives a real cell phone number and operates via wireless. Likewise, Facebook’s Messenger Apps host calls and video calls. Skype, Discord, and similar providers can also operate on wireless connections. If the two phones attempting to communicate are both iPhones, iMessaging operates texts, calls and video calls (Facetime) via wireless.
Please note the College is not affiliated with Verizon or any above services. A Verizon retailer is available in Saranac Lake, NY as well as Tupper Lake, NY.