College Just Got A Lot More Complicated

7 Feb

As first-year students progress into their second semester, there is often a lot of confusion and big changes in their lives. Their focus moves beyond simply transitioning from high school to college and onto their future and their relationships. Parents can be both helpful and frustrating during this period. These are a few of the things your student may be encountering at this point in time:

  • Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships
    Maintaining healthy, adult relationships, romantic or otherwise, can be difficult during this period. At times students engage in relationships that can be abusive or toxic. If you notice that they may be in such a situation, it is helpful to have an honest discussion about your concerns. Your student may not initially react overwhelmingly positively, but unhealthy relationships often warp the way someone thinks about the relationship. Be patient, aware, and offer your support, making sure not to be judgmental or place the blame on your student.
  • Major Exploration/Doubt
    After receiving grades from the first semester, some students start to seriously doubt their choice of major. Alternatively, they may be even more invested in their field of choice while still exploring their options. Remember that it is ultimately your student’s life and their choice; it is difficult to detach your own hopes for their future when discussing major choice with them. Avoid pressuring your student to decide down a particular path, instead ask questions encouraging deeper thought into their likes/dislikes, talents, skills, and passions.
  • Future Careers/Graduation Plans
    Thinking about the future can be absolutely terrifying for students at this point in the semester. Some are wondering whether they really belong in college and should even continue after the first year. Others are wondering how their education fits into their overall career and life plans. Encouraging students to schedule a meeting with their academic advisor to create a four-year plan of courses can be helpful in envisioning the end goal of graduation. Advisors can also help connect students with resources and identify supplemental activities such as study abroad, internships, and preceptorships that can help prepare them for the workforce.

This can be a pivotal time for your student. Depending on their experiences, they will need your support in different ways. Remember that first-year students often make mistakes, and it is important for them to take ownership of correcting those errors. Your role in their development as adults can really help them find confidence in their future decisions.


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