The weather, the academic cycle, and even the athletic teams can affect your student's temperament and productivity as the year goes by. Some of the issues that are likely to affect students this time of year are listed below.
- Concern about final papers, final exams
- Insecurity about grades
- Stress related to December holidays; anxiety about finding time for holiday preparations and money for shopping; doubts about how to fit back into the family
- Looking forward to seeing high school friends during holidays
- Concern about not seeing campus friends over December holidays
- Excitement about using the car over the holidays
Final exams coincide with the shortest, darkest days of the year. In addition, students feel tremendous pressure about finishing coursework and writing major papers at the same time they are trying to find and wrap holiday gifts for family and friends.
When students finish exams, they are likely to be exhausted. Their desire to sleep hours on end conflicts with family schedules and plans for the holidays. To some extent, students may be sleeping to avoid thinking about how they did on their exams. Sleep is also a way to handle the discomfort they feel about being back home and trying to fit back into the family routines.
Parents often expect students to assume their traditional family roles and chores when they come home for the winter break, but students have slipped out of the family routine. They may stay out late and eat at odd hours. Parents should discuss expectations about household tasks, curfews, use of the car, and participation at meals and family activities.
As the break continues, students may find they have too much time on their hands. In previous years, parents have noted that by the last week of winter break, students were bored and anxious to return to campus.
For more ideas of what to expect when students return home for the holiday break see Holiday Suggestions for Parents of College Students.