August 31, 2009 05:00 ET

As Parents Send Children Off to School, New Poll Suggests College Freshman Aren't Prepared to Navigate New Surroundings

Only One-Third of Current College Students Reported Feeling Confident They Knew Their Way Around College Community Before Starting Freshman Year

SUNNYVALE, CA--(Marketwire - August 31, 2009) - Results of a new poll conducted by TeleNav in partnership with the College Parents of America suggest that while parents are getting students ready to hit the books this fall, they may be failing to get them ready to hit the road. A survey of current college students has found that more than 50 percent were not confident in their ability to find their way around their college town before heading to school for their freshman year*. Additionally, more than 60 percent of all respondents reported they were not familiar with the location of buildings and local businesses in their newly adopted cities, with more than a third of this group saying it had taken them more than three months before they had felt familiar with their new surroundings.

Trouble Finding Emergency Service Providers

Perhaps even more alarming for parents, the poll found that a large number of respondents reported lack of familiarity with the location of emergency service providers in their new communities. More than 50 percent of current college students reported that if faced with an emergency during their freshman year, they would not have been able to locate the nearest police station without the help of a navigational aid or a friend. Forty-four percent of respondents indicated they would not have been able to find the nearest hospital in an emergency.

Getting lost causes safety concerns

Not feeling familiar with their new community isn't the only issue students reported facing. More than 40 percent of all respondents reported getting lost at least once during their freshman year. Of those respondents, one-quarter said they had felt concern for their safety when lost. Additionally, one in five respondents reported that during their freshman year, they had left a party or social event alone and had been uncertain how to find their way home. The poll results also indicate that the methods students use most often when lost may not be as dependable as parents may hope. The top method students reported using to find their way when lost was to continue driving until they found a landmark or location they recognized. This was followed by depending on another person to provide guidance to their location over the phone.

"Parents need to understand that their children may not feel comfortable or confident finding their way around their new environment as they begin the college experience," said James Boyle, president of College Parents of America. "The results of this poll suggest that parents should spend just as much time preparing their children to navigate their new community as they do getting them ready for the classroom. Students may not raise this concern with parents during the very stressful days leading up to their move to campus, so parents should take a proactive approach to ensuring their child has the tools to find their way in new surroundings."

Even short distances can cause concern

Additional poll results suggest that even if parents send their kids to schools within short distances from home, their children may still lack confidence in their ability to find their way around town their freshman year. Forty-five percent of respondents who attend school less than 200 miles from home indicated they weren't confident finding their way around their college town heading into their freshman year. The confidence level of students declined as the distance between their college and home increased. Of those students who attend a school greater than 200 miles from home, 77 percent indicated they weren't confident finding their way around town.

Helping students prepare for new surroundings

To help guide them around town, 60 percent of those students heading into their freshman year feeling unfamiliar with their college town indicated they had relied on a navigational aid such as GPS navigation or online maps. Students had placed a high importance on access to navigation aids, with more than 40 percent of respondents indicating GPS navigation should be a priority item for parents to provide to their children entering freshman year. Additionally, nearly one-third of respondents said that if they had had access to GPS navigation on their mobile phones, they would have used this resource at least once a week to find their way while driving around town.

To help parents prepare their children to navigate new communities, College Parents of America has developed a list of tips for parents that may help ease students' stress as they head off to school.

  1.) Arm your child with GPS navigation technology so they can easily find
      their way to important locations such as emergency providers.
  2.) On move in day or before, be sure to schedule some time to drive your
      child around the community, locating emergency providers, the nearest
      grocery store and other important locations.
  3.) Create a "lost" kit that can be placed in your child's vehicle
      consisting of paper maps of the community, an easy reference list of
      important numbers and locations, a prepaid mobile phone and a prepaid
      gas card.
  4.) Taking the tone of an experienced traveler and not a concerned
      parent, provide basic navigation advice such as identifying the major
      roadways in the community and their direction in relation to your
      child's new home.
  5.) Before saying goodbye to your child, simply ask them if they feel
      confident in their ability to find their way around town.

James Boyle of College Parents of America discusses these tips and gives additional advice to parents of new freshmen in a podcast interview with TeleNav.

To make it easy for parents to follow College Parents of America's first tip, TeleNav is offering a back to school special for TeleNav GPS Navigator, an award-winning turn-by-turn navigation product that is compatible with hundreds of mobile devices. For a special price of $89 per year for unlimited use, parents can provide GPS navigation right on their child's mobile phone. To secure this price, parents should use the promotion code 'Back2School2009' when purchasing TeleNav GPS Navigator from TeleNav's web site. TeleNav's back to school special will be available through September 2009.

Poll results were obtained through a survey completed by 527 current college students who have completed at least one year of school. Responses were collected between August 14 and 17, 2009.

* Fourteen percent of respondents indicated they had "No Opinion" when asked for their level of agreement regarding the statement "Before the start of my freshman year, I felt confident that I knew my way around my college town/city."

About TeleNav, Inc.

TeleNav, Inc., a privately-held company headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, was the first to launch a cell phone GPS system in the United States. Deployed by 14 carriers in 29 countries, TeleNav is a global leader in wireless location-based services (LBS). Currently, the company's solutions are available in four continents, including North and South America, Asia and Europe.

TeleNav's solutions include GPS navigation, Mobile Resource Management (MRM), social networking and local search. The company's flagship service, TeleNav GPS Navigator™, offers functionalities comparable to in-car systems and standalone navigation devices, such as automatically-updated maps and business locations, full-color 3D moving maps, traffic alerts with one-click rerouting, location-sharing, business reviews, speech recognition, Wi-Fi hotspot finder, gas price finder and more. TeleNav also delivers its award-winning navigation service on the TeleNav Shotgun™, a standalone GPS personal navigation device (PND) tailored specifically for business travelers. TeleNav's enterprise application, TeleNav Track™, incorporates GPS-enabled tracking, time sheets, wireless forms and navigation. TeleNav Track is a widely adopted service with approximately 9,000 customer organizations using it today.

TeleNav services are available on more than 500 wireless devices and run on most major mobile platforms currently available. TeleNav's partners include Alltel, AT&T, Bell Mobility, Boost Mobile, China Mobile, Ford Motor Company, Hewlett-Packard, HTC, INRIX, LG, Motorola, NAVTEQ, NII Holdings, Nokia, Palm, Qualcomm, Research In Motion (RIM), Rogers, Samsung, Sanyo, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile Austria, T-Mobile UK, T-Mobile USA, Telcel, Tele Atlas, Verizon Wireless and Vivo Brazil.

For more information on TeleNav, please visit

About College Parents of America

College Parents of America, headquartered in Arlington, VA, is a national membership organization that serves more than 100,000 current and future college parents. The group's mission is to empower parents to best support their children on the path to and through college. Much as AARP does for seniors, College Parents of America seeks to accomplish its mission through a mix of advocacy, information and access to relevant special offers and services. More information about College Parents of America can be found on its Web site,

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