Let It Snow! Winter Survival for Students

Most students find that winter is manageable and even enjoyable. And let’s admit it: there is no better hot chocolate weather!

You may want to check with your student about how they’re doing this winter. Here are some things about which you could inquire. 

Brighten it up

Increasingly, university buildings are designed (or renovated) for “daylighting,” bringing natural sunlight into interior spaces. For example, the newly renovated Michigan Union provides a glass-roofed courtyard, and daylight brightens spaces well beyond the courtyard. Daylighting helps improve students’ enjoyment and well-being. 

For more intense light exposure, perhaps to reduce symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, students can use light boxes, including at the CAPS Wellness Zone.

If students yearn for a mini-get-away to warmer climates, they can visit the Conservatory at Matthaei Botanical Gardens or the atrium garden at Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Just 30 minutes in one of those tropical environments can help students relax and recharge. 

Stay active 

Physical activity helps during the cold months, and students have the free use of three Recreational Sports facilities, with many options:

  • The best thing in winter? Saunas! They’re available in two of the facilities.
  • Drop-in activities include working out on equipment and using indoor tracks, or playing games like badminton, boxing, handball, and squash.
  • Group-X fitness classes range from Barre Above to Zumba, for a fee.
  • Intramural Sports offer fun and teamwork, for a fee. Registration for the Winter B session begins Feb 26 and includes euchre, FIFA/Madden, inner tube water polo, and pickleball.
  • Adventure Leadership offers cross country skiing, ice climbing, winter camping, dog sledding, and snowshoeing, for a fee. Students can also rent equipment.

Students can also cheer for their team at indoor U-M collegiate athletics matches for winter sports including hockey, volleyball and basketball. See MGoBlue for game schedules and note that admission is free for some sports. 


Getting around often takes longer in winter weather. Busses may be delayed, despite the best efforts of the university and City of Ann Arbor. In addition to busses, students can take the university’s Late Night Transportation, and many students also use Lyft and Uber. 

Students with mobility impairments can use U-M Paratransit, which provides free door-to-door transportation near campus for students who have either temporary or permanent mobility impairments. To request this service, students can call Services for Students with Disabilities at 734-763-3000.

Managing weather and illness

Temperatures that are very low, especially when accompanied by wind, can be treacherous, even causing frostbite and hypothermia. See Tips for Low Temps.

When students go out at night, it’s best to stick with friends and use the buddy system. If drinking, they can Stay in the Blue to make the best decisions for themselves and friends. 

To learn about severe weather alerts and any campus closures, students can sign up for Emergency Alerts.

Illness such as flu and weather-related injury are more common at this time of year, so students may want to know about Tips for Academic Success when You are Sick or Injured.


Winter can be isolating, and it is not uncommon for students to feel lonely. For many students, making friends, and getting together with friends (say for hot chocolate!), makes a big difference in their mood and sense of well-being. 

Students can take advantage of free mindfulness practice offered in multiple locations on campus. Mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep, and improve cognitive functioning. No experience is necessary. 

For parents, M Gift Packages  are an easy option to help bring joy to your student.

Spring break is near !

For students who live on campus and are staying in Ann Arbor, University Housing facilities remain open during spring break, and limited dining service is available. 

For students leaving Ann Arbor, the Central Student Government Airbus will provide transportation to and from the Detroit Metro Airport. 

If your student lives off-campus and will leave town over spring break, you might want to encourage them to take precautions before departure see tips at Securing Off-Campus Homes during Breaks.

The end is in sight

Spring is not far away -- in Ann Arbor, the first spring flowers emerge in March. And when the adversity of winter is over, many students feel a sense of accomplishment and, yes, relief. 


To help Student Life continue making a difference in students' lives, please consider making a gift.