With finals week coming up, we are officially closing up the fall semester. For many of you, this was your student’s first semester of college. The hype around first semester, football season, and rush is over and it’s time to transition into the spring semester. Your student is probably exhausted and will likely sleep the break away, but we suggest mentally preparing them for the upcoming semester. While there isn’t much excitement around it, the spring semester is very important because it is a time of growth and improvement. You have six weeks (yes, SIX) with them at home, which gives you plenty of time to reflect with them on the past semester and have some pretty tough and serious conversations. Here are three important topics we recommend covering with your student.
This conversation can be difficult and awkward, but it is very important for reflection and growth. It’s no secret that most college kids like to party. With the football season, Greek life, and getting your feet wet in the college social scene, it’s easy to get caught up in the madness your first year of college. Some freshmen push it too hard and lose sight of why they are in college. Is your student having trouble balancing a social life with everything else? Talk to them about it. Be open and understanding when having this discussion, and don’t show judgment. Check bank statements and see how much money is being spent at the bars. Talk about ways to improve over next semester. Is it a serious problem? If so, consider seeking help for your student and his or her mental health.
College classes are no joke, especially for a freshman straight out of high school. Because the fall semester is packed with excitement and new experiences, it is easy to fall behind in the classroom. Not having your parents there to wake you up every morning often makes skipping class seem like a great idea. How many times did your student miss class? How were the grades? Calmly go over each class with them and find out what went wrong. Perhaps they didn’t know how to study properly, or perhaps they didn’t study at all. Talk about ways to improve academic performance over the next semester so that their GPA won’t be forever doomed. In case you missed it, a Mississippi professor wrote an article called Professor’s Top TEN for Student Success. This article lists pointers to help your son or daughter become a successful student. Once they go back to school, continue to monitor their grades throughout the semester to keep them on track for success.
If your son or daughter came into college with the future mapped out, kudos to them; however, this past semester may have derailed those plans. Whether they realize the subject matter is not what they thought it would be or they discovered how difficult the work actually is, they might be forced to decide if they should change direction and forge a new path. Many students change their major within the first full year of college, so your student is not alone. The weight of this decision and the fear of disappointment can be a heavy load to bear, so allow them to open up to you and share what is on their mind. Encourage them to look into other majors and map out the required classes. MSU has a tremendous Career Center, which provides free career counseling and gives students the resources to discover new career choices based on interests and personality.
Regardless of how your student's first semester went, it never hurts to have a straightforward conversation about either keeping up the good work/behavior - or working to do better next semester. Bottom line - keep those lines of communication OPEN!