Parents and Families

E. Royster Harper

For parents, this time of year has an excitement all its own: soon, the academic year will end, and your students might be returning home -- if only for a brief stop before further adventures over the summer. If this is your student's first year at U-M, it can be a particularly keen feeling. Having spent the academic year trying to support them from afar, what will it be like when they're back under your roof?

The first thing to keep in mind is what your student is experiencing right now, in the weeks leading up to the close of term. Finals and term papers are tough at any year of college, but for first-years especially, this is a time of studying and concentration unlike anything they've experienced before. U-M students are exceptionally driven -- that's how your student got to where they are. And with that can come stress.

Here in Student Life, we know how important it is to help your student take the pressure off and stay well. The staff at our Counseling and Psychological Services office right in the Michigan Union are always there to help, and have good advice on self-care during finals. And you can encourage your students living in the residence halls to talk to their Resident Advisors and the other staff who are there for them. Many students are used to being academic stars who "do it all by themselves," but the truth is that everyone can benefit from talking to their peers and mentors. Sometimes, just spending a little time being in your community is enough to center you and keep you healthy.

And as a family member, you have a role to play too. Acknowledging in conversation that this can be a stressful time can be a help by itself -- you're telling your student it's okay not to have it all figured out, and that you know how hard they're working. Many parents get to be pretty incredible cheerleaders as their children grow up: this is a good time to break out those cheering skills again with full-throated support of your student.

And when it's over, if they do stop at home for any bit of the break, bear in mind they've just made it through one of the toughest parts of their year. And while you're giving them time and space to adjust, know that back in Ann Arbor, all of us in Student Life are already ramping up to welcome them back in the fall.

 

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