A student's second semester of college can be a very different experience than when they first left for college in the fall. While some students feel more prepared and settled during second semester, others often have a more difficult time. As the second semester begins this week, here are a few simple ways students and their families can help prevent or manage the stress.
Be ready for mixed feelings
Students and their families should be prepared for mixed feelings. The first semester is an exciting, transitional period for first-time students, but it also brings about an elevated degree of responsibility and consequences. Parents might notice a bit of stress and venting from their students and should encourage open conversations about what was good and bad about that first semester to help them feel emotionally ready to return for round two.
Embrace a new beginning
One helpful way for parents to help a student manage that stress productively is to frame the second semester as a new experience. Students and parents should take time to set new goals for the second semester. Encourage exploration into new majors or social atmospheres if some element of the school experience didn't work out well for your student in the fall. As a parent, this might require balancing or re-visiting your own expectations for your student's college experience as well.
Encourage involvement on campus
When you are a student at a large university, there's pressure to feel like you have to find your place quickly. As a parent, be sure to offer some guidance to your student on different ways they could get involved on campus. Student clubs and activities can make a world of difference, and a good balance of social and academic life will reflect positively on both!
Use the second semester as an opportunity to practice planning and other skills
Without the structure of a grand orientation, it's useful for parents to help students set goals and plan for the spring semester. Are there time management strategies your student could be practicing? Are there skills your student could focus on that could have helped them feel more secure during first semester? Now is a great time to iron those strategies out.
So whether your student had a difficult fall and needs a reset this spring or they had a great time and are excited to be back, it's important to recognize that college is a journey with ups and downs. Follow these tips and keep the lines of communication open, and your student will feel supported no matter what!
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