For most families with a kid away at college, Thanksgiving is the first time they will return home. This can be a great time to relax, see family and friends, and a great opportunity to have some important conversations.
After letting your college kid catch up on sleep and get in touch with old friends, here are some topics to bring up before the whole family arrives for Thanksgiving dinner:
By this time into the semester, students will have a good idea of how their classes are going and what grades they will expect after finals. This is also a good time to see if there are any academic issues that need to be discussed. Parents should NOT try to correct any situations for the college-aged child, but instead offer suggestions.
For example, if a student is struggling in one class, parents can suggest visiting the campus academic services center, hiring a grad student for tutoring, or be watching online videos on the subject. Parents should not email professors themselves.
Another question parents might ask is if the student has the same college major and career aspirations as when they enrolled in college. Yes, it’s only been 3 months since they went off to college if they are freshmen, but many students start thinking about different majors and careers once they are on campus and surrounded by other students and more options. Hopefully, parents can speak with the student about changing the chosen major before it’s happened and credits are lost. Guiding the student to a career adviser is also an important step. Students who are in the junior or senior years of college should start researching career options, networking and speaking with professionals in their chosen field.
2. Health Issues
Students away at college don’t have access to a primary care doctor or dentist. They also probably aren’t taking excellent care of themselves AND they are living in very close quarters with others in the same situation.
Ask yourself and your college kid if any check-ups, vaccines, or dental cleanings are in order. Researching on-campus health services can save a lot of time and stress in the event of medical condition later.
3. Work/Life Balance
Last, but not least, parents should inquire about how well their college-aged child is coping with balancing academics and their social life. College years are usually the first time for most kids to be completely in charge of their own schedules and problems have arisen when time is efficiently managed or poor decisions are made.
Ask your child about his or her friends, how do they spend free time, is he or she comfortable with their social circle, do they seem socially adjusted and happy? Suggestion student clubs or organizations can help students open up more in the college environment. Students who are struggling academically might need advice to cut down on “nights out” more.