Anxious about Spring Semester?

Is your student anxious about the new semester? Maybe they have said, “I don’t want to go back to college.”

It’s very common for students to experience feelings of sadness or anxiety as they approach the end of Winter Break. Here are some tips to help you navigate the conversation.  

Listen to them – and be supportive. Your student may not want a solution, but they look to you as a sounding board to process ideas. Here are some of the feelings that commuter and residential students have shared:

  • It’s a great relief to be home in familiar surroundings with everyone I love.
  • College is so much work. I’m worried I won’t have the motivation for another semester.
  • I feel like I don’t belong in college.

Validate their feelings. Acknowledge these are normal thoughts, and empathize with their situation. Remind your student that you believe in their abilities, you are proud of them, and they are not alone on this journey.

Encourage your student to take a step back and dig deeper:

  • Tell me more about your experience so far?
  • Is that a temporary situation?
  • Can it be fixed?

Seek campus resources. A variety of resources are available on campus to support your student’s academic success such as visiting professors during office hours, Academic Advising, workshops at the Academic Success Center and Library, the Writing Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Disability Resource Center, and the Intersection, just to name a few.

Sometimes students need to hear from their parents and family that it’s OK to ask for extra help. A nudge from you can make all the difference.

If your student is focused on taking time off or leaving school, you can offer reassuring suggestions:

  • Allow time to decide – this is not an overnight decision, and they need to research the options. As a parent/family member you may encourage them to try one more semester and reevaluate in the summer.
  • Keep options open and make a plan – is this a semester off or more than that?

Talk about grades. Remind your student that grades do not represent a student’s ability to learn or whether they “belong” in college. Consider the college experience 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.

You know your student, and if taking a break seems to be the best option, here are some resources to help you with the process:

Positive Self-Talk. Remind your student of the power of positive self-talk. That is substituting negative thoughts with positives to overcoming challenging days. Dr. Michael Brown has a podcast that focuses on “Three Words” to help students overcome challenges.

As a family member, you have the perspective and wisdom that college is a short-term experience, designed to prepare students for their careers.  Point out that there are also many positives to look forward to:

•           Meeting new friends in classes and activities

•           Finding professors and classes you might love

•           A chance to explore opportunities and resources on campus

We look forward to your students return to campus!

Here is a list of Welcome Back activities for your students:

Join the Conversation


  1. I’m a parent and this information has oriented me a lot on how to help better my child, who stresses a lot about her classes.
    Thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

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