Parents and Families


To say the past year has been an adjustment for college students like yours is an understatement, but with planning and creative modification, many students are making the most of this time academically. We went to the source -- students -- to see what tips they would offer to fellow classmates on how to make the most of this online and modified academic experience.

 Preetha Pamidighantam, a senior majoring in BCN with a minor in Applied Statistics and Gender & Health in LSA, is taking classes online this semester. She says the merging of worlds took some adjustments:

“It was really difficult for me to see two different spheres of my life, school and home, mesh together with no boundaries,” she said, adding that she has used technology tools to separate the two and concentrate on academics. “ I have really been dependent on apps like Google Calendar and Notion to plan out my day so that I stick to the schedule and finish all my assignments accordingly. I make sure to schedule in fun times like watching movies with family or facetiming friends so that I can destress and recharge from all the work. Of course, I don't always stick to this schedule because a lot of disruptive factors arise every day, but I try not to worry and start over once again the next day.” 

She says those friendships are essential. 

“We definitely have to be more meaningful in reaching out and staying connected with friends or make new friends during this time...Making it a plan to make a fun virtual/socially-distanced event with a friend, like watching a movie together on Netflix party or having an online game night, at least once a week, can push you to stay connected with your community.” 

New connections, a mainstay of traditional on-campus education, also take effort but are worth it:

“I would definitely sign up for new student organizations or actively stay connected with ones you are already involved in. A lot of student orgs that I am a part of have virtual social events every week, which have been very helpful  in being in touch with old friends and making new friends. Zoom fatigue is definitely real since we're online for classes and socializing, so making sure you're getting alone time away from technology is important too.”

Ayla Raye-Leonard, a senior in the School of Nursing, is studying on campus this semester.

She said support from friends is essential. Most important, students should give themselves some leeway in their feelings..

 “If you are living with other students, I would recommend planning weekly events together (i.e. workouts, game nights, movie screenings, etc). If you're not living with other students, you can do those things with your friends virtually. But remember that school will not always be like this, and pretty much everyone is having a tough time with it. This isn't normal, and it's okay to feel crummy.”

She also offered advice to parents.

“Allow your student to manage themselves, and be an empathetic ear! They know that they have assignments and stressors, and they are capable of managing those themselves. Instead of minimizing their issues, try to listen to what they're going through, and ask how you can help, if at all. Plus a comforting meal, thoughtful note, or long talk can do a lot.”

Kristen Shaw, a Junior in LSA studying Data Science, lives in Ann Arbor but is taking all of her classes online. Shaw also had advice for parents.

I think parents can support their students by encouraging them to get involved with things on campus. There are organizations that can provide both educational opportunities as well as social opportunities (and sometimes both!)...I would also urge parents to be understanding during this time - as a student that previously had no issues keeping up with assignments and social obligations, I occasionally find myself overwhelmed with all that's going on. It can be hard for students to work on everything along with keeping up with changing world events, so for parents to be supportive during this time and understanding that previous expectations may not be met right now would be so meaningful to their student in terms of reducing stress and feeling like they can do their best (whatever that means right now) without worry.”

She also said University resources are a good place to turn.

“I've found myself reaching out to use more university resources during this time... things are just a zoom call away. Knowing that the university is continuing to offer its resources, especially for academic and mental health support, has been extremely helpful in giving me the resources I need to work as well as I can, even when things are more difficult.”