Your college student has completed his first semester of college. Congratulations! Hopefully, it was a good semester, but there’s a chance it might not have been. A rocky first semester is not unusual for many first year students. But whether or not the semester was as successful as you and your student had hoped, having the first semester under your belt is a milestone on the college path.
As your student prepares for his second semester of college, this is a good time for you both to take stock, think about the past semester, and to create a plan for the fresh start that a new semester brings.
Returning to college for the second semester may loom large for some students. Beginning college for the first semester is stressful, but exciting. Everything is new, students look forward to their independence, opportunities to make new friends, and the new experiences that a new environment will bring. Returning for the second semester may mean that your student needs to make some changes, break some habits, sharpen some skills, or get out of a possible rut. This time, your student knows what’s ahead and knows some of the challenges he may face.
Understanding the new opportunities a second semester can bring can be both encouraging and intimidating. Recognizing this as a possible turning point can be important. You can help your student prepare for ways to make this second semester different than his first. If he had a great first semester, he may want to find ways to make the next semester even more fulfilling – to supersize his experiences. If the first semester did not go well, he may need to make some changes to turn things around.
But making changes for a fresh start involves more than understanding the problems of first semester, it even involves more than just setting goals for the new semester. Making changes involves creating a specific action plan for how to replace poor habits with better, more productive habits. It involves continual refocusing of intention and efforts. It involves recognizing that plans often need to be readjusted and re-evaluated. It involves recognizing that the decision to have a better semester is not a one-time decision, but a daily decision.
Take time with your student to think carefully about how she will institute changes next semester. How will she use the fresh start that a new semester offers? What decisions does she need to make – every day?
Here at College Parent Central we recognize that staying focused and on track throughout an entire semester is difficult. Students often need help sticking to and readjusting those early action plans. That’s why we’re offering FreshStart!, our weekly subscription newsletter for students in their second semester. FreshStart! can be there providing help to your student each week for the entire semester. As you and your college student think about the semester ahead, consider whether weekly reminders and suggestions might provide the guidance can make a difference and help her stay on track.
Read more about FreshStart! and sign your student up now. Don’t leave this opportunity for a successful second semester to chance.
But whether or not you include FreshStart! in your student’s plans for next semester, this is the time to help her reflect on the past semester, set some goals, and most importantly, create an action plan for reaching those goals.