It’s that stressful time of year when college students are all struggling to finish projects, prepare presentations and study for the final exam. As a parent, it can be difficult to see your child full of dread and anxiety over school work, especially if they are far from home.
While you can’t take their finals or write that giant research paper for them, there are a few things you can do to ease their burdens and reduce school-induced stress.
Debbie Staples who works in the Parent & Family Services office at Southern Utah University has seen it all, from teary phone calls to stress-eating to all-night cram sessions. She says that even if your child is far way, by merely supporting them through encouraging texts or short phone calls you can boost their confidence dramatically.
“When parents send their student off to college for the first time, they sometimes think they need to back off and give their student lots of space,” said Staples. “While this is true and sometimes hard to do, parents or family members are still the first place a student will turn to for answers. The words ‘you can do this!’ from home mean so much. Being supportive without trying to solve the problem for them is critical for student autonomy and a real sense that they can do hard things.”
There are lots of ways to help your student with projects and presentations without completely taking over and turning into helicopter parent. Here are 8 ways you can support your student through the final weeks of school.
1.Remind them to sleep, eat and exercise. The basic necessities of life may be pushed aside with so much else occupying your students’ mind, so remind them of these small but important healthy tips. Getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night, eating a balanced diet, and stepping away from books for some gym time will help refocus and rejuvenate your student.
2. Urge early studying. Students tend to cram at the very end, especially with so much to finish at the same time. Yet those last-minute study sessions usually don’t pay off.
“Think of it in terms of a basketball team,” said Dr. Jared Tippets, Vice President of Student Affairs at Southern Utah University. “Athletes don’t wait until the night before the big game to begin preparing and then stay up all night practicing. So, why would you wait to start studying and then stay up all night cramming before a big test?”
3. Help them create a study plan. Talk to your student about their deadlines and final exam schedule. Help them be more productive by encouraging a study plan with to-do lists and digestible tasks. With a daily schedule your student will be more productive and less stressed. Plus, crossing things off of a to-do list is a huge motivator to keep working. Students can also plan their studying and homework around their personal productivity times so they can concentrate best on what is most important.
4. Be supportive. Send encouraging text messages when you know your student is overly stressed. Be their own personal cheerleader and remind them that you are proud of them and that they can do hard things. Tell them you understand that they are stressed and it’s ok to take a breath and relax. Knowing they have a strong support system can do wonders to a student’s dragging morale.
5. Don’t call too much. If you thought your student’s schedule was busy before finals, you should see their to-do list now. From group study sessions to final research papers to hours of studying for an exam, your student is mentally exhausted and is trying to find time for everything in their schedule. If you call too often, you may be adding unnecessary stress to your student’s workload. It’s good to check in and make sure they are still functioning, but keep communication to a minimum. Just make sure your student knows if they need to vent, you are available to talk.
6. Let them know that resources are available. If your child is struggling to understand the course material, let them know that resources are available. Students can always consult with their professor, visit the tutoring center, drop by the writing center or form a study group to gain a better understanding of the subject. There are also on-campus resources like Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to help students deal with their anxiety about personal problems, academic difficulties and relationships.
7. Determine your student’s learning style. Students learn information differently, so help your child identify their personal learning style through different questionnaires, like this Learning Styles Self-Assessment adapted from K.T. McWhorter.
8. Purchase a Finals Survival Kit for your student. Brighten your student’s exhausting days and long nights by sending a Finals Survival Kit. Kits include a note from you, treats and test-taking supplies. An unexpected gift will brighten your student’s spirits and boost their confidence casting a ray of sunshine on their seemingly endless studying.
The final few weeks of college is an intense, anxiety producing time for many students. As a parent you can do a lot to help your child succeed by listening, sending encouragement and reminding them of a few simple study tricks.
From Southern Utah University, best of luck to all students this semester.