Here come the holidays! I can’t believe we are almost to November, but it’s approaching quickly. I’ve noticed so many of my former clients preparing for that “first visit home” from their college student who moved away from home. Navigating the holidays season with a brand-new college student can present unique excitements and challenges, and it helps to have some insight and understanding beforehand:
Use open communication: The first step in this transition time is clear communication with your student. Your recent graduate is in a new phase as a young adult, and they are trying to navigate what new role they have at home when they visit. Check in with your college student regularly to see how they’re doing and how they’re feeling about the holidays. It is also a good time to check on their mental health and ensure they have good support systems in place while at school. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but trust me, that are grateful for you asking.
Be mindful of their own commitments: Be clear about family commitments such as dinners or holiday parties so that they can accurately plan. Be considerate of their financial situation and help them make reasonable and practical gift lists so they don’t stress themselves out buying presents. Ask them what things they want to get out of their holiday break, and who they want to prioritize and spend time with…and don’t be upset about their answers. Mutual respect can be a huge help with the holidays, and can eliminate any disappointment and unmet expectations.
Help them keep up with academic requirements: Balancing your expectations with your college student’s academic commitments is another important facet of navigating the holiday season. Many students may have final exams, projects, or assignments due shortly after the break. It is really good to be mindful of their academic responsibilities and provide a supportive environment for studying if necessary. This could mean allocating quiet spaces for them to work, or giving them the time and space they need to prepare for these academic challenges (even if they miss out on family events). Don’t nag, but offer supportive encouragement instead.
Make a solid plan for them returning to school: Discuss what’s expected when it’s time for your student to return to college. This may include packing, travel arrangements, and a plan for staying in touch during the next semester or when their next visit will be. Avoid pressing them to visit more frequently, and allow them to set the tone for what is best for them. Keep in mind that the transition to college life can be challenging, and coming home can be emotional. Be a source of support, encouragement, and a listening ear if your student wants to talk about their experiences.
With plenty of open, respectful communication, the holidays can be a new and exciting opportunity to bond with your high school graduate. Seek to understand their newfound independence and recognize they have changing needs and responsibilities, and you will set yourself up for success!