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Preparing to Return After a Difficult SemesterJennifer Sullivan
The first semester of college is a whirlwind. Residence hall life, classes and professors, freedoms and responsibilities — a month or two in, it's all still new.
As you keep tabs on your student, remember that it takes all freshmen a while to settle in and for things to “click.” They will all be challenged and they will all make at least a few mistakes.
This is part of the process of adjusting to college life and this is where YOU have a chance to shine. Successful college students are organized and intentional. Can you help your student hone the necessary skills and attitudes? YES, YOU CAN.
Time management is the biggest challenge college students face. When they crack this code, they feel better about everything else and enjoy themselves more to boot.
Apps are great but an old-fashioned planner or calendar is also essential — in fact, redundancy helps (they might use an app or Google calendar but also keep track of things on paper).
If/when your student complains that they “don’t have time” for everything, suggest they keep a time diary for a while and then look for ways to tweak their routine.
Although it may seem obvious, you might need to remind your student that, when it's time to study, they should remove themselves from the social action and go somewhere by themselves. If they socialize at meals, they won’t feel as bad about secluding themselves in the evenings to work.
As much as you long to hear their voice and see their face, you’re aiming for the Goldilocks zone with this one — not too much contact, and not too little. Checking in regularly lets you observe how they are doing, celebrate their triumphs, and listen and be a sounding board as they work through confusions and frustrations.
To be ready for the variety of conversations you'll be having, go on the school website and familiarize yourself with campus resources (the writing center, health and counseling services, etc.). Successful students are proactive about getting help. You can help steer your student to the places on campus where they can find what they need.
If your student is on a sports team, or regularly does something like dance or yoga, they may have the first one covered. Otherwise, encourage them to make use of the campus recreation center.
As for sleep, students suggest putting electronics away at least an hour before bed and writing out tomorrow's schedule. “Planning the next day in advance helps me get to sleep by acknowledging thoughts of tomorrow on paper, clearing my head, and gives me a starting block for the day when I wake up in the morning.”
“Simplicity is productivity” observed one time-tested student. Encourage your new student to get involved in campus activities but beware of over-commitment.
More support for the families of new college students:
College move-in is approaching! Help your student prepare by making sure they have everything they need for a successful freshman year.