As spring semester approaches and winter break draws to a close, students are preparing to come back to campus and get into their daily routine. Some students are excitedly awaiting classes, while others are dreading that 8 a.m. lecture they had to sign up for. No matter which side your student falls on, here are a few tips to get them motivated, help them feel prepared and help them beat the mid-winter blues before classes start on Monday, Jan. 13.
- Set and re-evaluate goals
Your student should have long-term and short-term goals. They know where they want to be with their career in five years, or at least have an idea of the field of study they want to pursue. They know that they need to take certain classes next semester and maybe need an internship by next spring.
The time between fall and spring semester is a great time for them to set and re-evaluate those goals. Maybe they have switched majors and don’t need that internship anymore, or maybe they need to retake a class next fall for a better grade. Encourage your student to sit down with their list of goals (or create a list if they haven’t) and look at what they are achieving toward each of their goals.
This will enable them to strive for their goals throughout the spring semester, and give them something to commit themselves to, which will help them succeed both in this semester and in the future.
- Get back into a routine
Like many college students, your student’s winter break routine probably included working, binge watching their favorite show and staying in their pajamas as much as possible – and that’s not a bad thing! They came out the other side of fall semester and deserve the much-needed R&R.
As they get closer to starting spring semester, it may become more difficult to get out of bed and get ready for the note-taking, studying and exams that are waiting for them when they return. Encourage your student to get back into a routine before they have to roll out of bed on the first day of classes.
Throughout the upcoming weeks, your student may begin to get emails from their professors containing syllabi from their classes. Your student should take the time to look these over and prepare themselves for the semester ahead. This may involve noting in their planner when big exams are, or just making sure they have the school supplies they need.
Their schedule will likely not only include classes, but activities and work, too, which leads to tip three:
- Schedule time for relaxation and self-care
Students’ schedules consist of much more than just time spent in class. Your student will need hours each week reserved for studying, being involved in activities and possibly working at a job or internship. Between all of these commitments, it is important that your student makes time for relaxation and self-care.
Encourage your student to specifically schedule times in their planner for exercising, eating right and spending some downtime alone or with friends. If that time is already blocked off, then nothing else can be scheduled during that time, and it becomes a commitment.
With dedication and encouragement from family members and friends, your student will be able to commit to the important things, while still having some time to relax, work on eliminating the winter blues and avoid becoming overly stressed early in the semester.
- Organize and spring clean before returning to campus
Your student likely came home from fall semester in a whirlwind. Loads of laundry (clean and dirty), unorganized papers and books, and a whole pile of things that had been purchased throughout the semester followed them home. Those things might not have even made it from their car into the house!
Encourage your student to organize their possessions and spring clean their car before returning to campus. While it may seem like a boring, tedious task to complete during break, it is almost guaranteed that your student won’t be able to find the time to organize and deep clean once the semester starts. If your student takes the time to do these things now, they will be able to focus on their academics with a clean car, organized possessions and a clear head.
Your student will want to take a lot of things back to campus with them, but there are probably a lot of things that can stay home, too. Encourage your student to take the things they need. If possible, take them shopping to stock up on necessities (toiletries, snacks, etc.) that they will need throughout the entire semester. Remind them that if they do forget something important, they can bring it back with them after their next trip home, or you can always mail it or bring it to them.
The more organized they begin the semester, the more set up they will be to succeed.
- New semester, new you
Every January starts out the same. Advertisements and media proclaim “New Year, New You” in an effort to keep you thinking about your New Year’s resolutions of improving yourself. Your student can think about the start of spring semester the same way.
If your student did great during the fall, congratulate them! Tell them how proud you are of them, and encourage them to keep at it for the spring! Unfortunately, not every semester can be that easy. If your student didn’t do as well in the fall as they hoped, remind them that this is their chance to make a change and do the best they can.
Unlike in high school, where classes often carried over from the fall to the spring, classes in college start fresh with each semester. This is their chance to try again, or try something new, if a class during the fall didn’t work out. Your student doesn’t have to fight through the new semester alone. There are many campus resources available to help them out with their struggles: the Center for Academic Support, Counseling Center, and Career Development Center are just a few of the free resources that are available on campus to help your student succeed.