College is stressful. In just a short period of time, a student is expected to:
• Live on their own
• Make their own choices
• Attain a degree in a field they’ve set their sights on
If learning in a new environment and taking challenging courses wasn’t hard enough, there’s also:
• Navigating a new campus
• Choosing study habits
• Working with newfound independence
And that’s all without mentioning the social pressures that your child faces as they enter a new community for the first time!
The events of the past few months haven’t made things any easier, and it’s not hard to understand why so many students feel overwhelmed! Not only is the decision making process of college a massive leap from the high school experience, but the dynamic between remote and in-person classes is all new for everyone. As evidenced by the spring semester, university leaders are just as befuddled as students when it comes to navigating this new era of learning.
During these times, it’s more important than ever to keep an open communication with your child. No, you may not have all the answers (nobody does!), but you can offer them guidance and pass on some tips and tricks to reduce their stress.
Talking To Your Child: What Things Should They Hear?
As they venture into this new stage in their lives, your child will need to take ownership of their choices, and now more than ever they need to be proactive in establishing an outlook that will make their experience a positive one.
When talking to your children about making the transition to higher education, make sure to highlight these four steps:
College is hard, and things won’t always go as planned. That’s okay! Encourage them to keep a positive attitude and understand that if something is truly worth striving for, it will take more than the bare minimum to achieve. College is about trying new things and seeking out new experiences, and when they accept that things won’t always be perfect the first time, they can open themselves up to a new set of opportunities.
We’ve all had a time when we’ve been so overwhelmed by responsibilities that we’ve just sat around and done nothing- the best way for your child to overcome that is to set a fixed schedule and prioritize their goals. This isn’t just limited to schoolwork, as their own mental well-being is also something to keep in mind. Eating, sleeping, drinking water, and exercising at regular times aren’t just important in maintaining their physical and mental health, but it will also teach them to balance their schedule. Don’t let them forget to have fun, too; taking the time to do something that makes them happy each day is important.
Your child is now reaching adulthood, and as scary as that may sound, it’s important that they understand that they alone are responsible for the choices they make and the person they become. While being free of mom or dad’s control may excite them, they need to learn how to be accountable for their own actions and understand that they alone will reap the benefits or consequences of their decisions. Talk to them about the importance of trusting their gut; if a situation feels uncomfortable or doesn’t sit well with the future they imagine for themselves, it isn’t worth pursuing.
College moves very fast, and it’s easy to let the four years fly by without a moment of contemplation. While it may seem like college is just a means to get a degree, your child should be thinking about why they’ve chosen to pursue their profession. What goals do they have in mind? What interests them about their field of study? Does it excite them? What in their life are they grateful for? There are many means of reflection, be it a daily journal or a weekly call to a good friend, but time dedicated to introspection is important as they move forward.
College is challenging, and this semester in particular will no doubt be a difficult one for everyone.
Being adaptable may seem hard, but open communication will help. Different kids choose to express themselves in different ways, but above all else, they should understand that you are both there to help them from afar and that you will always be there when they need your guidance.