- Send a care package
In a time where it is so easy to communicate with your student via phone, email, or text messaging, it is easy to forget that students love getting “real” mail. This “real” mail can be an especially helpful pick-me-up as they approach finals week. You can always include the staples that students love to get any time: food, personal hygiene items, study items, or basically anything that your student could save a couple dollars on by not buying themselves.
If you want to step it up a notch from the staples, especially as they are getting ready to endure the stress of finals week, include meaningful items and things that will help them de-stress. Think about including a gift card for the theater or a restaurant they enjoy to encourage them to take some time for themselves. Students love to hang pictures in their rooms, so include some printed pictures of people and events back home to remind them that you’re still thinking about them. If you send snacks, try to include enough to let them share with their suitemates or friends. You’ll be the most popular parent around! Your care package is only limited by your creativity!
- Encourage your student to not panic
Oftentimes, students get so overwhelmed with exams, projects and papers around finals week that they just don’t know where to start. Remind your student that it is important to keep working, even when feeling overwhelmed. It is easy to become overwhelmed with a long to-do list, freeze and then get nothing accomplished. Let your student know that they can’t do everything at once, but they can do something. Panicking is not good for their grades or their mental health. Even small tasks can be big accomplishments when the final tasks of the semester start to add up.
- Don’t micromanage or add to the pressure
College is a time for your student to test out their newly found independence and discover what works for them. This can include helpful hints, tips and tricks from you; however, you don’t want to be too pushy. Give your student your piece of advice, but then let them decide what to do with it. For example, if they need help in math, encourage them to seek out tutoring in the Center for Academic Support. Whether they choose to take your advice is ultimately up to them. They will either get the tutoring and do well, or they will skip the tutoring and learn an important lesson. Sometimes the lessons they learn from a mistake are more important than doing something right the first time.
- Encourage your student to study early
Students tend to have problems with procrastination. While they could be working on projects and studying for exams in the weeks before finals begin, they often put off everything they can until the very last minute. While some students still succeed in this last-minute environment, it is still always a better option to begin working and studying ahead of time. In theory, your student should be studying the material as the semester goes along. In practice, though, it does not always work out that way. The earlier they begin working on the material, the more time they have for it to sink in and the more time they have to seek help if they need it.
- Encourage your student to prioritize and manage their time wisely
While encouraging your student to study early is important, it won’t make a difference if they are not prioritizing assignments and managing their time. Your student probably has large projects and papers due and exams for which they need to study.
If they use a calendar or agenda (which they should!) suggest that they literally block off times to work on different projects. For example, from 9-10 a.m. they can specifically research their history paper topic, from 10-11 a.m. they can specifically study terms that will be on their psychology exam and from 11-11:30 a.m. they can take time for lunch. Give them room to figure out what works best for them, while still guiding and encouraging them to do their best.
Try to stress the importance of taking “me time.” A half hour to relax and eat a meal, or a two- hour block where they can unwind and watch a movie can be just as important as studying and finishing projects.