Sometimes, it may seem as though one of the most difficult positions for a college parent to be in, is the situation when you know that your student is struggling and you feel as though you cannot do a lot to help. Sometimes final exam period may feel like one of those times. You can’t take the exams for your child. You may be too far away to help him study (and you probably shouldn’t be doing that at this point anyway). You know that your student is stressed, and exhausted, and you must simply stand back.
Actually, you may not be completely helpless. There are several ways in which you might help at this final exam time.
First of all, recognize that many students may not be intimidated by final exams. Some students thrive on the challenge, have done their work all semester, and will take this period in stride. If this is your student, congratulate her, and stand back and relax.
However, many students do find this time stressful. This is true of both outstanding students and those who may have been struggling. There is a lot of work, and a lot of pressure, for many students at exam time.
- When you talk to your student, just give plenty of encouragement. Let her know that you understand that she’s under stress. Let her know that you’re proud of her for doing what she’s doing. Remind her that she will get through this.
- Share a few tips with her about getting through finals. Remind her to get rest, to organize her time, to get help studying, to stay focused. There are many sources of good suggestions, but there’s a great list provided at Speedyprep “10 Little Known Ways to Survive Finals Week”. A few good tips can help your student feel as though she is in control of what happens during this stressful time. But be careful not to overwhelm her. Give suggestions, then step back. She may listen or she may not. She will need to get through this her way.
- Send bits of encouragement. A card that arrives in her mailbox, a funny comic strip, an e-card, a care package from home, can brighten a day.
- Before you make any necessary arrangements for travel home, make sure you check your student’s exam schedule. It is often difficult, and sometimes not possible, to make special arrangements to take an exam at an alternate time. Be careful that you don’t add pressure on your student to try to work an exam schedule around travel arrangements if this can be helped.
- Try not to bother your student with issues from home during this time if you can help it. Of course, you want to stay connected and talk about anything important, and some issues can’t wait. But if there is anything going on at home that can wait until after exams, try to wait. Your student needs to be able to stay focused on her schoolwork right now, not worry about anything else.
The final exam period is an intense, stressful time for students. But it is a relatively short period of time. By providing understanding, encouragement, and a bit of support from home, and then standing back and letting her do what she needs to do, you can do a lot to help your student succeed.