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.
- Boredom sets in as the winter break continues and students remain at home
- Some disillusionment in relationships with high school friends
- Disappointment/relief about first semester grades
- Enthusiasm about new courses and professors
- Sense of security at having survived the first semester
- For seniors, frustration over questions during the holidays from family and friends about post-graduation plans; personal concerns about post-college job, student loan payments, next year’s living arrangements intensify
The high levels of stress at the end of the fall semester indicate students may need some “recovery time.” They might have low energy and are likely to sleep a lot in the first part of the break, but winter break gets long. As friends from home start back to their colleges, leaving U of M students with no one to visit, boredom is likely to set in. The break is a good time to begin talking to students about their living plans for next year. Many freshmen and most sophomores are likely to be thinking about apartments; parents should talk to their students about the responsibilities of apartment living including cooking, cleaning, contracts, and roommate relationships.
Typically, students are excited about getting back to school following the holidays to see their friends and roommates and to begin a new term. While some freshmen may feel like campus has become their “real home,” others may be questioning their choice of colleges. Encourage them to finish the academic year, even if they are thinking about transferring to another school. Usually by the end of February, students can see their accomplishments and realize they have adjusted to the big campus.
Sophomores may be growing anxious about their choice of majors. Those who were sure of their career choice when they were freshmen might have second thoughts now that they’ve explored new fields; talking to parents about changing majors is very hard for some students.