Given that university life provides a special venue for learning about oneself and one’s interests, families are encouraged to explore these opportunities as well. Family members hope, in full earnest, that they have imparted all of the wisdom to their child that is necessary for her/him to be a whole, productive, and ultimately happy adult. Families and students may experience nervous excitement and uneasy apprehension about the transition to college. These emotions make the transition from home to university a potentially stressful one. However, those families who can make room for their own and their child’s conflicting and ever-changing feelings do find that this stage of discovery is enriching for themselves as well as for their child.
Throughout the calendar we have provided benchmarks of the first year and potential challenges that you and/or your university student might face. Our hope at Plymouth State is that we can collaborate with families as partners in the educational experience and the development of your first-year student. We understand that you are in the process of witnessing the often rapid and awkward transformation from dependent child to independent adult/child and hope that along the way you will see the fruits of your labor in creating this unique person. Now she/he must learn to do and think for her/himself and we encourage you to teach them practical skills, prior to their arrival. Such skills include learning how to balance a checkbook, learning to establish healthy credit card habits, how to do laundry, as well as reviewing the values and principles that your family embraces.
- Columbus Day holiday (no daytime classes; evening classes start at 5 p.m.) – October 13
- Second half of semester begins – October 27
Benchmarks and Potential Challenges
- Emphasize issues of time management and study skills. If they are falling behind, encourage them to re-connect with their academic advisor. Faculty members also have available office hours to provide students with any necessary assistance. Encourage your student to seek out professors after class and to utilize their support offerings, guidance, and wisdom.
- Adjustment issues are still in full effect, and loneliness and homesickness may increase as students have their first long weekend and potential to see families and old friends. Long-distance relationships may begin to weaken and students may also experience increased feelings of doubt regarding their decision to go to school.
- Managing money is often a hot topic at this point because students are finding out how expensive living can be and may want to renegotiate their allowance if one is being given. Ask for a clear budget so that you can decide if your estimations were unreasonable. The first phone bill arrives this month and can be a shock to students who have not had to monitor their phone usage in the past. The use of phone cards or phone provider limits on minutes (call provider for details) can help solve spending problems. Also, cell phones tend to add up. Talk to your student about whether a cell phone is a necessity and, if so, discuss limitations.
- Requests for room changes in residence halls may prompt phone calls of support. Encourage working out solutions with roommates because room changes can interfere with the flow of the semester. Remember that students are learning how to advocate for themselves and intervening is tempting, but rarely necessary. We want your student to thrive, and Residential Life makes every effort to accommodate the needs of the students who are unhappy with their living situations.
- Given that everyone is different, please note if your student has historically “endured” uncomfortable circumstances, has not made contact, and does not advocate well for his/herself. If necessary, contact a Residence Life staff member who will discreetly “check in” on their experience.
- Mid-term examinations can be a particularly stressful milestone for the first-year student.
- Six week grades are issued to students and parents/guardians in October. This is a good indication of your student’s progress to date, but there is still time for struggling students to employ new strategies and get on track. It is important to discuss academic progress with your student. Congratulate them on their successes and seek to identify any challenges. Some students may feel discouraged, stressed, scared or excited and over-confident. Encourage your child to connect with their advisor for assistance and to focus on continuing patterns of success or developing new habits toward success.
Classes resume — December 1, 8 a.m.
Final Exam Week – December 15 – 19
Benchmarks and Potential Challenges
- End of the semester anxiety regarding academic performance and concern over finals is paramount. This is perhaps the last chance to save one’s grade in one or many classes.
- This is a time of extreme pressure and emotional overload. The student may drastically fear parental reaction to first semester performance. Listen and steady them in their panic.
- The anticipation of six weeks at home can inspire both dread and excitement. Encourage the student to secure some work during the break to make some “fun money” and foster some level of financial independence.
- Prepare for further negotiations regarding curfews and responsibilities while living at home.