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Apoye a su estudiante cuando no vive en los dormitoriosJo Calhoun
First-year college students face many challenges as they adjust to their new lives. Usually they can take small obstacles and minor failures in stride, but sometimes their struggles are more serious.
If your student confides in you, you are part way to being able to help them find a solution. Even if they don’t communicate much, you may notice warning signs: they call home a lot, or never call; they never want to come home, or come home all the time; once home, your student doesn’t want to return to school; you sense that your student isn’t going to class. Maybe there are physical changes — a dramatic weight gain or loss, or an appearance of stress and fatigue.
Your student needs to admit they have a problem and give it a name. Much like peeling back the layers of an onion, though, the immediate problem may not be the real problem.
For example, your student may see a failing midterm grade. But the failing grade may be the result of not attending class, so attendance is the problem. Why isn’t your student going to class? Are they working or socializing too much and sleeping through their alarm? Are they having trouble understanding the course material and are afraid they can’t do the work? Different answers point to different solutions.
Your job right now is to stay calm and to listen carefully. A simple “Why?” will help your student peel back the layers and dig deeper.
Our students don’t want to disappoint us. We can encourage them not to give up, and perhaps even tell them about the ways we’ve learned from our own failures in life. Every mistake they face up to and fix will make them more competent, more mature and more likely to persist to their goal of a college degree.