5 Situations that May Be Paralyzing Your College Student Right Now

There’s a rhythm to a college semester.

There’s the nervousness at the beginning of the semester as students look at the syllabus for each class and realize that there will be a lot of work to do. Gradually, however, routine settles in and work feels more manageable, and not as overwhelming as it seemed at first. This may be a bit of a honeymoon phase.

For many students, the first reality check may be midterm exams and midterm grades. This is the time to discover what has been working and, for some students, a recognition that some things need to change.

As students near the end of the semester, a second reality check occurs. Now there are only a few weeks remaining and some students may become paralyzed as they face their situation. They freeze because they’re not sure how to begin or how to deal with what needs to be done. If you feel that your student may be overwhelmed by any of these situations, start a conversation.

5 situations that may be paralyzing your student and how to take action

Attendance – Your student has missed a few classes.  Actually, your student has missed many classes. They haven’t been to class in a few days, or maybe even a few weeks.

Read more5 Situations that May Be Paralyzing Your College Student Right Now


Tread Lightly, But Be Present: Supporting Your Student Through the Stressful End of the Semester

stressed man at computer

As the end of the semester nears, many college students feel their stress levels rise. Students realize how much work they still have left to do, and they realize that their time-management skills may not have served them well. They are overwhelmed, tired, possibly sick, and definitely nervous about the outcome.

As you begin to sense your student’s stress, your parental instincts kick in and you want to do everything you can to help. It’s a tricky time. It is important that you let your student know that you’re there for them, you’re ready to listen and offer an encouraging word, but your student needs to find ways of coping on their own. It’s part of the growth of independence and being a college student.

College parenting can be difficult. As parent, you need to tread lightly. It is difficult to step back and watch your student struggle, but sometimes all you can do is offer those encouraging words and a listening ear.

Read moreTread Lightly, But Be Present: Supporting Your Student Through the Stressful End of the Semester


Addressing College Freshman Fears Requires Action

A recent article by Kelci Lynn Lucier on Thought.com about Conquering 13 Common College Freshmen Fears points out some of the insecurities many new college students feel. We recommend the article as it helps students understand and combat some of the questions that may be in their minds.

We’d like to build on this good article and suggest some additional actions that students can take, as well as consider the parent perspective. Knowing how to talk to your student about their concerns will arm you to help.

Sometimes the best approach to addressing any challenge may be simply doing one thing – taking at least a single small step. It can overcome potential paralysis when students don’t know where to begin.

  1. I was admitted by accident.

Many students share this fear – that the college made a mistake when they sent that coveted acceptance letter. Remind your student that there are likely students all around them that feel exactly the same way – and that it is a perfectly normal feeling. Reassure them that this was not a mistake.

Read moreAddressing College Freshman Fears Requires Action


Parenting Students with Learning Differences – Dealing with our Own Anxiety

This is the third article by College Parent Central contributor Dr. Lynn Abrahams.  Lynn specializes in college transition and success for students with learning differences.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, in her book How to Raise an Adult (2015), reports that American parents are depressed at twice the rate of the general population. There is no question about it, parenting can be stressful, challenging, and anxiety provoking.

As parents of students with learning differences, we have watched our kids navigate years of school experience. We have been with them through neuro-psych testing, diagnosis, meeting with teachers and special educators. We have shared both the success stories and the brick walls with them. As their parents, we know more than anyone else where the pitfalls could be. This is probably why our own anxiety can swell to explosion when they take that leap to go to college. In fact, it is possible that we could be even more anxious than they are!

I speak as both a parent and as a learning disability specialist, who has worked with college students for the past 30 years, when I say that we need to find healthy strategies to deal with our own anxiety. We will not be able to be supportive to our students if we don’t take care of ourselves first.

There is a reason airline personnel instruct us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before helping others – if we run out of oxygen we are of no use to anyone else.

Read moreParenting Students with Learning Differences – Dealing with our Own Anxiety


New Year’s Resolutions for College Parents – and Their College Students

OK, have you ever had the same resolution for more than one year? You know you have . . . Sometimes it’s because you just didn’t make it happen last time – and sometimes it’s because it’s such a good resolution that you need it again.

This year we’re revisiting some resolutions for college parents and for their students that we posted way back in 2009. We’ve updated some – life has moved on after all.  And some are just gems that should still be on our resolution list.

We invite you to take a few minutes to review our list, adopt some suggestions, and add a few of your own.  The New Year is a time for new beginnings, so whether you’re about to be a college parent,  you’re a new college parent, or you’ve been at this for a while, it’s the time of year to take stock and make a fresh start. And don’t forget to share a few of these with your student as well.  A new year also brings a new semester for many students – the perfect time for their fresh start as well.

Read moreNew Year’s Resolutions for College Parents – and Their College Students


Beyond the Pumpkin Pie: When Your College Student Comes Home for Thanksgiving

For many students and their families, Thanksgiving Break will be the first extended trip home from college.  It’s a bit of an appetizer for the longer Winter Break to come.

We’re excited to have our student home. We have plans.  We’ve been baking and cleaning and thinking about those long, important conversations.  We’ll have a chance to catch up and learn all of the details about our student’s life at college.

Maybe.  Be careful.  Don’t expect too much. Be prepared so that you can make the most of the time that you have.

There will be plenty of time for more extended conversations over the longer Winter Break, but you need to give your student some space to relax and regroup for the final push of the semester. This will be a good time for a check-in, and with some thinking and planning you can make the most of the short break.

Read moreBeyond the Pumpkin Pie: When Your College Student Comes Home for Thanksgiving


Undecided, Undeclared, Open, Exploring: Your College Student’s Search for a Major

Many students (some say as many as 50%) enter college undecided about their major.

Many students who enter college as undecided experience stress and anxiety about declaring a major and/or finding a career.

Many students who enter college declaring a major are really undecided but have made a choice because they feel pressured.

Many parents of undecided students worry that their student lacks direction and will not find a meaningful career.

Many students, and their parents, are anxious about this seemingly indecisive status.

Who are these undecided students?

Read moreUndecided, Undeclared, Open, Exploring: Your College Student’s Search for a Major


How College Parents Can Help Their Student Avoid Sophomore Slump

College administrators, faculty, and parents place a lot of emphasis on the transition to college and the first-year experience.  We all know that these new college students, and their parents, will be undergoing a tremendous change in their lives as they enter the world of college.  Colleges run orientation programs, offer special classes and seminars for first-year students, communicate with these new students with encouragement and reminders, and often have a “let it go” attitude when new students make mistakes or miss deadlines.

Once students complete that tumultuous first year of college, they face sophomore year and the changes that it brings.  Our sophomore students need just as much support from home, even though that need may be less obvious. As college parents, we can help our sophomore students realize that the concept of sophomore slump really does exist.

What is sophomore slump?

Sophomore slump refers to the phenomenon in which a second effort fails to live up to the quality of a first effort.  The term is also used in sports (for second year players) and in music (for second recordings by an artist).  At college, students in their second, or sophomore, year often experience both a let-down and a decrease in their grades.  If the word sophomore means “wise fool,” it is an accurate description of how many second year students feel: they aren’t sure whether they feel wise or foolish at any given moment.

Why does sophomore slump happen?

There are several things that occur during the second year of college that can contribute to the slump that sophomores may encounter.  These are especially troubling if your student is unprepared for the differences during this year of college.  Parents and students need to understand the ways in which this year is different from that first year of college.

Read moreHow College Parents Can Help Their Student Avoid Sophomore Slump


College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student – and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below – and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

Read moreCollege Parent News and Views


When Your College Senior Hates Their Major

You’re almost at the finish line.  You’ve made it through that somewhat scary freshman year, the potential sophomore slump, junior year, and your student is now top of the heap – a senior!  It’s time for celebration and planning for Commencement.

But then it happens.  Your student decides that they hates their major.  They’re devastated.  You’re devastated.  You’re both at least a little scared.  Perhaps it’s the courses they’re now taking that sealed the deal.  Or perhaps they had an internship or opportunity to get out in the field and hated the experience.  Your student’s upset, depressed and at a loss.  And so are you.  What now?

It’s a very difficult situation and it’s natural to be upset.  Discovering late in the college experience that your major doesn’t seem right can feel overwhelming.  And, as is often the case, it’s almost harder as a parent to watch your student be so unhappy.  But the situation is not unique.  Many students have second, and third, and fourth, thoughts about major and career – even in their senior year.

Read moreWhen Your College Senior Hates Their Major


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