Classes are wrapping up, and your college students may feel the pressure of final exams and presentations over Zoom/WebEx right now. (“How do I share my screen?” is a common question!) In a few days, the semester will be finished, and professors will post grades. As a parent or family member, you might be anxious about the weeks ahead. This has been a very challenging and unusual year.
We asked students, staff, and parents/family members to share feedback about Winter Break. Here are some tips to help you navigate the time ahead.
Fears of judgement – Students express concerns that their families will judge them for being different or changing since they became a college student, even if they’ve been at home for the last few months. They wish that their families could embrace their new role with encouraging words. “I’m so proud of you for thinking about these issues” or “it’s wonderful how you are getting involved virtually,” are meaningful sentiments to encourage your student’s transition into adulthood.
Independence – After a semester (or more) of organizing their own schedules, students express concern for having to fit into the family holiday dynamic again. “I don’t want to be part of the kids’ holiday pajama photo this year,” one junior told her advisor. In some cases, college students are caught between child and adult roles within their family. They are learning how to navigate their new role in the family as an emerging adult. In the case of the pajama photo, this student reached a compromise with her family and wore clothes in colors that coordinated with the younger kids, rather than the pajamas.
Getting their grades – Grades will post to your student’s MyUNLV account over Winter Break. They are not mailed home. Celebrate that they’ve completed the Fall semester, and talk about how they will share their grades with you. In some cases, students may have had a challenging semester, and they may look to you for support and encouragement. Grades do not represent their ability to learn or whether they “belong” in college. Consider this to be a process of continued reflection on what they’ve done well and where they can improve. Remind them of the tutoring, office hours, and support services available on campus, and how seeking help early in the semester is an important step for academic success.
Time management is a critical factor in academic success, and your student may need to consider if they are devoting enough hours to reading, writing, and completing assignments outside of the class.
New Expectations – Having a conversation with your student about boundaries and expectations over Winter Break can be helpful. Consider topics like: curfew, chores, earning extra money, getting rest. Be sure to listen to your student when they express their ideas, and consider reaching a reasonable compromise on matters that are most important to you. They may want to talk more about the pandemic and your families’ plans for celebrating the holidays safely.
New Traditions – With most states encouraging residents to stay at home, families have shared that creating new traditions with their emerging adult students has been fun: Family Board Games or video games, cooking together, planting tulip bulbs in garden boxes, & watching a new TV show/movie together. Going one step further, a mom shared that she asked her student to teach her something new. Her Hospitality major showed her how to prepare a meal that they learned to make via Zoom.
What if they want to transfer? “Tell me more,” is a great way to engage in the transfer conversation. Actively listen to their concerns. Sometimes students think the “grass is greener” at other schools. Ultimately, we care about your student’s overall happiness and academic success. We hope they choose to stay at UNLV, but we also understand that they may choose to go elsewhere. We encourage students to allow at least 2 semesters before they make decisions about transferring. In that second semester, students may take a class with a professor whose class they love, or get involved in a club/activity where they find great friends.
We hope you have a restful holiday season!
Classes start on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.