By Catherine Scott
A UniversityParent intern and college sophomore, Catherine shares reflections on what the month is like on campus. We hope her essay will help you understand and support your own college student.
After Spring Break, second semester goes fast. Reality hits — there are only a few short weeks to wrap up all your coursework! Many schools have a long April weekend and it may be the last break before final exams. I remember reaching this point as a freshman and being shocked by how close I was to finishing my first year of college. I hadn’t even begun to think about summer and how it would feel to go back home to Colorado, knowing that I’d found a second home at school in Texas.
With the end of the semester quickly approaching, many students make plans for summer. Throughout college, summers are a wonderful chance to explore interests and opportunities that are hard to fit in during the school year. Though your student may already feel that April is jam-packed, it is the best time to apply for summer internships or jobs because many businesses will have hired their seasonal employees by the time summer actually arrives. It’s also time to sign up for summer classes if your student needs extra credits or wants to get basic required courses out of the way by taking them over the summer either at the university he or she attends or another school near home.
Some out-of-state students choose to spend the summer months at their school while others head home. As an out-of-state student myself, I plan to go home to work and take classes. Some of my friends will be working as camp counselors at summer camps they used to go to as kids, while a few pre-med friends have lined up positions where they’ll participate in lab research and shadow doctors to gain medical experience. I also know students who will travel overseas to do mission work for a good portion of the summer.
Something else happens in April: advising and pre-registration for fall semester courses. This time last year as a freshman, I was overwhelmed by the decisions I had to make — it was a relief to talk to my advisor about the courses I needed for my major and how to fit them into my schedule. If your first-year student is still uncertain about a major, definitely make sure he or she is taking advantage of academic and career counseling services.
The best part of spring is the warmer weather. Here in Texas, it had been alternating between snow and sun but now things are blossoming and it’s a pleasure walking to class and exercising outside. Spring intramural sports are a fun way to spend time with friends and relieve stress on weeknights. There’s a more active and lively vibe around campus, with students playing ultimate Frisbee or soccer on the lawn in between classes. “Hammocking” is another spring tradition on my campus — if you look up into the trees, you’ll spot people napping in hammocks. What a great way to spend a warm afternoon and replenish your energy for the next round of studying!
The last few weeks of class race by. Suddenly it’s May. I remember that, towards the end of freshman year, I dropped out of regular contact with my family and friends from home. Looking back, I think it was the combination of end-of-year stress and uncertainty about what my life would be like that upcoming summer. Going into college, I hadn’t anticipated how much I would grow and change. The person who left Colorado in August was very different from the person who was leaving Texas in May.
So, don’t be too worried if you don’t hear much from your college student in April and May. Do expect that summer will be a learning experience for you both. After our year away from home, when we’ve been entrusted with responsibility and freedom, we students understand that we may not have the same amount of freedom when we return home, but we also hope we’ve shown our parents we can handle the increased independence.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our College Parents’ Facebook group.
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