Get stories and expert advice on all things related to college and parenting.
A Summer Break Academic BoostAmy Baldwin, Ed.D.
Your student completed the first semester of college. Congratulations!
Second semester (or winter term, if your student's school is on the quarter system) is an opportunity for a fresh start. Your student can build on their successes from last fall, but they may also need to re-evaluate and readjust based upon lessons learned.
Returning to school after winter break is a very different experience from going to college for the first time. Students bring their newly-acquired wisdom and their mistakes along. There may be less anxiety, since they know what to expect, or anxiety may be high…since they know what to expect!
There is less build-up and excitement than there was in the fall, so returning to school may seem a bit of a let-down. Some of the novelty has worn off. Your student understands the realities of college life, so the road ahead may look longer and harder than it did in the fall. This is a more thoughtful return to college.
If first semester was less-than-hoped for, your student may be concerned about how to make this next semester better. They may or may not be able to express these worries.
They have confidence in their ability to make friends, to navigate the college community, to get to class, to talk to professors and to do what needs to be done.
Just as we are all encouraged by the possibilities of a new year in January, your student may be energized at the prospect of a fresh start.
It can be difficult, as a parent, to know how to help. If you’re too involved, it feels as though you are not respecting your student’s growth and allowing them to experiment with newfound independence. But stepping back entirely may make you feel as though you’re not doing your part to guide your student.
Second semester is a perfect opportunity for some conversations. Plant a few seeds, offer food for thought, and gently remind your student of your trust and support.
Getting a few tasks out of the way during what’s left of winter break will give your student a running start on spring semester.
No matter what year your college student is, the new term is a chance for a fresh start, and you can guide them in setting realistic expectations and goals. They’ll be one step closer to maturity and independence. You will be more comfortable taking a step back and watching them grow.
It’s time to celebrate with the perfect gift for your new grad!