The semester is coming to an end and students are returning home from college for Thanksgiving. For many of us students, we cannot wait to go home for the holidays because that means a break from fast food and dining halls. That means a delicious home cooked meal! FINALLY!
For some students this might be the first time home since moving into college at the beginning of the semester. I have a few pointers for parents to keep in mind as their student returns home for the holidays.
Many times I have told my parents “remember I’m an adult now” when returning from school for the holidays. Sometimes my parents have shared that it is often easy to treat me as if I never left, but they know that I am not the same person that I was before going to college. I am older and have experienced the autonomy of being on my own and away from home. Thanksgiving can sometimes be the testing period of this new adult-to-adult relationship in place of the once, adult-to-child dynamic, especially if your child is in their freshman year.
Another point to keep in mind, is the ratio of family time v. social time. This is important because your student will most likely want to connect with their *old friends from high school and catch up with each other. They’ll want to compare the college experience so far and see how they all are doing away from home. However, it is definitely important as well that your student spend time with the family too and catch up on life. Maintaining this balance between family time and social time with friends is essential to having a healthy and joyful holiday. Try to support them as they try to find what works best for everyone.
Lastly, some students struggle leaving home after Thanksgiving break to return to school for only a short few weeks. It can be hard and evne daunting to know that major assignments, group projects and final exams are looming. Being home means eating good food, having help with their laundry (if they’re lucky!), and time to relax without the stress from classes. It is totally okay if your student is upset about leaving to go back to school but remind them that winter break is only about two weeks away and a send them back with a few take away treats, too!
I hope everyone has an awesome Thanksgiving break filled with lots of love and food!
As always, go Pack!
*Thanksgiving break is sometimes hit with a mix of emotions when students reconnect. The expectation of seeing friends the way we remember doesn’t always play out the way we think it will. Try to be supportive of your student if they encounter an unexpected friend dynamic, feel disconnected or even experience a break-up. Remind them that they too are creating a whole new life of learning and growth and that this type of experience is (unfortunately) very common. Encourage them to reach out to their roommate, a new friend they’ve mentioned from school or even set up an impromptu activity for you and your student. In the end, it all works out but sometimes we just need reminding.
Has your student sounded stressed lately? Have they expressed feeling overwhelmed or having too much to do? It’s about that time in the semester when classes are hitting pretty hard and by now they’ve had tests and probably a big project due date sneaking up on them. No one is immune from stress and it’s totally okay that your student might be freaking out a little, especially if it is their first semester of college classes.
If your student feels like their brain is overloaded with the amount of assignments and papers due, remind them to take a deep breath and that they are not alone. Offer your support with some stress busting advice. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
1. Get enough sleep. For your student, it may be tempting to pull that all-nighter before their 8:30am class, but short-changing the amount of sleep they get can really have an effect on their stress levels. Not getting enough sleep doesn’t only affect stress levels, but it makes students have less energy along with a higher risk of getting sick and not doing so well on those exams. Getting sick in college is not fun. Sure, it might be an excused absence, but that one missed lecture could be the one to put you very behind. It becomes a bad cycle. Bottom line: encourage your student to get an adequate amount of sleep each night!
2. Eat well. Not only does a steady diet of Chick-fil-a and pizza sound yummy, it can also be very convenient. The truth is though, eating like this day-in and day-out can actually lead to decreased energy levels. Encourage your student to substitute one meal of Chick-fil-a for something a bit healthier; maybe a protein salad or a smoothie on the run. Remind them that food rich in vegetables, fruits, and a few whole grains are good for the brain, too.
3. Exercise!!! When stressed, moving around might be the last thing your student feels like doing. I have been there, but it didn’t take long to figure out that even a small portion of physical activity can have an extreme impact on stress, energy and productivity levels. Personally, when I’ve had a rough day or I get back a grade on a test that I wasn’t happy with, exercising has become my outlet. University Recreation has an awesome facility on campus with lots of exercise equipment, and some of my favorite group workout classes. I suggest cardio dance if your student wants some cardio, but also an exercise that is very fun! I always leave feeling better than I did when I went in.
4. Don’t take on more than you… need. A slight rift on the old adage, because we often can handle it doesn’t mean we need it. Regardless this is definitely easier said than done. Sometimes as students we feel that we need to take max class credit hours, be involved in extracurricular activities, have a job, (try) to have a social life, and still maintain a decent sleeping schedule. My word of advice, remind your student that they don’t have to do everything! As they sit down with their advisor encourage them to make a long-term plan for their courses. If they want to join an extracurricular activity, I say go for it, but you don’t have to join them all. College is less about how many groups or clubs you can be a part of and more of finding the right one, that perfect fit of activity and people that become your foundation of friends and your activity.
Hopefully, with these tip, you can encourage your student(s) and help them realize some easy ways to reduce the stress that college sometimes brings. Of course, a care package or a letter from home during these moments of stress always helps, too.
As always, go Pack!!
Fall semester isn’t over yet and advisors are already starting to make their pitch for Spring enrollment. As college has flown by, the only thing on my mind is my crushing senior year, right around the corner, with two full semesters of 18 credit hours. I most definitely do not want an impossible senior year, and I’m sure your student wouldn’t either. Luckily, summer sessions have taken all the pain away.
As a college student with two jobs, a major and two minors, my agenda is filled down to the minute with tasks to complete, exams to study for, and papers to write. My semesters are non-stop and I barely get time to sit and appreciate the classes that I’m taking. To graduate on time, I have had to take two summers full of classes, and honestly, I’m not complaining.
Last summer I was able to take three different class. That’s 9 credits off my regular semester load! I was able to thoroughly focus and enjoy my courses without the stress and hustle of a fall/spring semester. With enrollment for summer courses coming so soon, I can plan out my last year to make it the most enjoyable one yet.
If you student is worried about not doing their best in classes because of an overwhelming load of other responsibilities, fear not! The best way, in my opinion, to avoid an extra semester, and keep straight on life’s plan, are summer courses! They can knock off a minor, boost your GPA, save the cost of an extra semester, and allow you to pay more attention to your studies. It just may be the best option for your student. Here are the 2018 summer session dates:
Summer classes are a great choice for students to get ahead of their studies. The variety of classes available will surely cater to most, especially those looking to lighten up a semesters-load and not waste any time in that three month lull. Talk with your student and encourage them to check out NC State’s 2018 summer sessions!
The temperature is starting to drop, soon the leaves will start to turn, and Halloween is just around the corner, so it must be that time again. It’s Fall Break! This is one of my favorite breaks all year, not because it is very long, because it’s not, but because it comes at just the right time to allow me the chance to relax a little. While it is one of my favorites, it has also sometimes been a challenge to communicate with my parents during this time frame about how I am doing. I know that this is a problem that many students have so I would like to give you four tips for successfully navigating Fall Break with your student.
Have an excellent Fall Break and enjoy some time with your student!
We are nearing the half way point of the semester. This means your student will be faced with midterm exams and paper deadlines in the upcoming weeks. This is a busy part of the semester and you may notice your student dragging or feeling stressed. Here are a few things you can do as a parent to keep your student motivated or to help cheer them up.
1. Give them a call. Personally, there’s nothing better than hearing my own parents’ voice when I am stressed. My mom is always willing to lend an ear while I vent about whatever stress I’m experiencing and my dad will always lighten the mood to make me feel better.
2. Let them know you’re thinking about them. Shoot your student a text reminding them how proud you are or give them a little nudge of encouragement to help them gain the confidence they need to do well on an upcoming test. Snail mail and care packages are always a good idea. Inter-residence council (IRC) has an easy way to send these with lots of options to customize for your student. Visit On Campus Market for more information. Two things that usually never go unnoticed or unappreciated by college students are free food and real mail.
3. Listen to your student and allow them to vent to you about what is going on. There’s always relief in just talking to someone. Sometimes it can be tricky, especially over the phone, to figure out if the person on the other end just needs an ear to listen or is looking for advice. When in doubt, ask your student if they are looking for a response or if they’d prefer you to simply listen.
Remember, mid semester is a tough time for many students, particularly first year students. It is often times a gut-check to remember why we are here and the goals we have set. Remind your student that this too shall pass and when it does they will be that much closer to reaching their goals.
Thankfully we can always count on our #PackParents to support us during our mid semester drag and to keep us going. Thank you for all that you do.