Hoping to keep the upcoming holiday break the most wonderful time of the year for you and your college student? It’s easier than you think with a little proactive communication, goodwill, and cheer. Keep everyone happy and peaceful with these quick tips to remind your student why there’s no place like home.
Expect places to be, people to see…
Balancing time with family and friends during the holiday break is a test of patience and love for every family. Help your student navigate the long-awaited opportunity to reconnect with high school and hometown friends by discussing expectations for the break before it starts. Having developed and enjoyed a newfound independence at college, revisiting family routines and setting limits, including curfew, can alleviate tension and miscommunication throughout the break.
… and plenty of sleep in-between.
Outside of heavy socializing with family and friends, prepare for an exhausted student. Restful sleep and good nutrition may not have been plentiful these past few months, so expect a tired and hungry student eager for the comforts of home. Giving a day or two to rest and recharge can do wonders for students about to head into final exams after Thanksgiving or rebound from the semester in December. Be clear about house rules and expectations when it comes to sleeping in and staying out late. Clear communication, coupled with negotiation and compromise, will be your best bet to a peaceful holiday season.
Keep it jolly and light.
How’s school? Is your roommate nice? How’d you do on exams? What’s your major? The questions seem innocent enough but can feel overwhelming when students are still trying to figure things out for themselves. Declaring a major, sharing a room, and acing college exams are all rites of passage that require time and adjustment.
Given that the holidays are often a rare opportunity for extended family to catch up and share, prepare to balance a plethora of questions with reassurance and support. Not only will your student appreciate the positive response but they’ll also take note of your lead to make the break a great time to unwind and relax.
Be a great listener.
Remember September and all of the excitement and anticipation that went along with it? Those same wonderful feelings may very well continue into the holidays but could also include some unexpected twists and turns that can derail even the most confident student.
Once the initial period of excitement has worn off, it is very common for students to experience everything from bouts of homesickness and anxiety to periods of loneliness, isolation, and even mental exhaustion. For many students, the holiday break may also bring the first realization that their lives now exist between two worlds on campus and at home.
Should your student confide in you feelings of homesickness or a desire not to return to school or transfer, try not to panic. Feelings of doubt and defeat can accompany the transition to college, sometimes leading students to question their college choice. Remind your student that this period of uncertainty is actually a great sign that change and growth are taking place.
One last note…
Students in great distress or exhibiting difficulty eating, sleeping, or maintaining relationships merit closer attention - be sure to discuss your concerns with your student if you feel something is not right. College counselors and campus resources can assist you and your student to help the college transition become a successful one.
Counselor. Mentor. Dream Developer. I am a veteran college and career consultant helping clients of all ages prepare and perform for success!