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 them 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, don’t forget to congratulate them, 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, give plenty of encouragement. Let them know that you understand that they’re in crunch time and under stress. Let them know that you’re proud of them for doing what they’re doing. Remind your student that they will get through this time. It may be challenging, but they’re moving ahead.
- Share a few tips with your student about getting through finals. Remind them to get rest, (They probably won’t, but it’s good to have a reminder) to organize their time and tasks, to get help studying, to stay focused. Remind them that there is support available on campus for academics and for counseling. There are many sources of good suggestions for studying online and your student might want to explore some tips to get fresh ideas. Although you want to help, be careful not to overwhelm your student with a lot of suggestions. Give a few ideas, then step back. Your student may listen or may not. They will need to get through this in their own way.
- Send bits of encouragement. A card that arrives in your student’s mailbox, a funny comic strip, an e-card, a care package from home, can brighten a day and make a difference.
- 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, but some issues can’t wait. If there is anything going on at home that can wait until after exams, try to hold off. Your student needs to be able to stay focused on their 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 your student do what they need to do, you can do a lot to help your student succeed.