Transitioning Back into College Life

27 Dec

Winter break is coming to an end and it’s time students start thinking about the upcoming semester. Some students may feel they have a great handle on the new semester due to a strong first semester, while some may feel a little nervous to return due to a difficult transition from high school to college. Wherever your student is, the new semester and New Year bring great opportunities to succeed.

With the New Year, everyone has goals to benefit themselves and this includes students. Some goals include: creating better study habits, gaining a healthier lifestyle on campus, or getting more involved in campus activities. Goal setting is very important in college because it will help students stay on track during the upcoming semester. However, some goals may be a little unrealistic. It’s important that goals follow the SMART goal template. Their goals should be ‘S’pecific, ‘M’easurable, ‘A’chievable, ‘R’ealistic, and ‘T’imely. This will ensure that their goals are not simply hopes and they will eventually accomplish them. For example, a goal that does not follow the template would be “I want to be healthier”. Of course this is a great goal to have, but a goal that follows a SMART goal template would be more detailed such as “To be healthier, I am going to eat three healthy meals a day and go to the gym twice a week for 30 minutes. I will make this a habit within one month.” As you can see, the second is much more specific, has a timeline, and is realistic, which will ultimately help them get to the end of their goal. Whatever your student has in mind for the upcoming semester and year, make sure you support them and check in on how they are pursing their goals. As a student, their schedule is very hectic and it can be overwhelming at times, but having a loved one check in on what they want to accomplish will help them get there!

Along with goals, the new semester is approaching quickly and there’s a lot for students to do in order to prepare to come back to college. Students should not wait until the last minute to start prepping because waiting until the last minute to do anything is stressful! Students should be in the process of finalizing their schedule for Spring semester and if they need help to do so, they should schedule an appointment with their advisor as soon as possible. Students have the opportunity to change their schedule with little hassle in the first week of classes, so if they still need time they have it. Along with their schedules, it is important to make sure their finances are in order and if there are any questions, encourage them to reach out to financial aid or the bursar’s office. Another thing they should keep in mind is making sure to have everything they need for their dorm/apartment, supplies if they need new ones, and start ordering textbooks for their new classes. As you can see, coming back to the semester is a lot of work and can be stressful, but if they are organized and on top of it, it should be a smooth transition back.

Not everything about starting a new semester is stressful; it should be exciting! Students have the opportunity to join clubs, get a job if they want to, and bring their GPA up if it is not where they want it to be! A new semester is not exactly a new start because they have completed their first semester, but it brings the opportunity to learn from their last semester and bring it along with them during the upcoming. Freshman year is all about students finding their rhythm and this experience is different for all students.  To help your student, encourage them to pursue what they want to in the upcoming semester. They know what they need to do in order to have a good second semester of college and support is one thing they definitely need! Students have access to tons of supportive resources on campus to help them pursue their goals.

Winter break is a great time for focusing on things outside of college, but this can lead to getting out of the swing of things. As they come back, along with creating goals and prepping, they should be focusing on maintaining a balance of school and their wellbeing. Even though the first few weeks of school are usually a little mellow, they should start making healthy routines to ensure when things get stressful, they are ready for it. They should map out time in their week that is dedicated to studying, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and free time for doing things they enjoy. In college, it is difficult to find a balance with conflicting priorities, so it takes time to find what works. It is definitely helpful for students to have loved ones that are supportive and remind them to take breaks once in awhile and focus on themselves.

As the new semester approaches take the time to talk with your student and be there if they need help in any way. Some students need more help than others, but don’t be too intrusive if they have things covered. That is obviously easier said than done because you are their parent or loved one and you want the best for them, but trust your student to be responsible and will start off the new semester on the right foot! College is for students to learn how to do things by themselves and become more independent, but gentle reminders never hurt. The best thing to do at this time is to be understanding and help your student transition back into their college routine.

-Courtney

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