Tips for Parents

What really happens on spring break?

By Diane Schwemm with David Farrar

As soon as our students head back to campus for second semester, we wonder when we’ll see them next.

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High School Parent | College Parent

Spring break is right around the corner…how will they spend it? Will they want to hang out at home for the week or come along on a family vacation? Will they plan something on their own, and maybe tell us about it, or maybe not?

The answer, of course, is all of the above. This is what I’m hearing right now from a few of the parents and students I know:

“Our son and his friends want to go to Yosemite [National Park]. We pointed out that it might be freezing in March and gave him a few other ideas. I suspect they won’t decide until the last minute!” — Parent of sophomore

  • story-icon-bar-convo-3If your student is coming home:
    Double check before making plans to take her out of town — she may have her own plans with friends coming home the same week.
    Remember that he might be on a completely different clock than the rest of the household — late nights, late mornings (tricky if younger siblings don’t have the same vacation).
    Stock up on favorite foods and expect tons of laundry!

“I hope he will spend time looking for a summer job.” — Parent of sophomore

“My daughters will both come home and want to be with their friends, including visiting friends at other schools that aren’t on break.” — Parent of a freshman and junior

“A friend and I are leading a service trip to take ten people to Acuña, Mexico to build a house for a family with the nonprofit Casas por Cristo. I’ve traveled there before with my church, but this is my first time organizing.” — College sophomore

“My bank account needs help so I’ll do temp work for the week.” — College junior

Whether they come home or travel, spring break is a chance for students to unwind after a long stretch of hard work and recharge for the final push before finals. If you’re ready to start viewing spring break options, click here to search.

Tropical beaches are ever popular, but there are plenty of options for students looking for something different. Is your student still up in the air? Here are resources and tips to share.

Seeing — and changing — the world

Spring break volunteering opportunities abound. Students can connect with local service projects at home or on campus, or combine volunteering with travel.

  • Most universities sponsor “alternative spring break” volunteering trips through the school or a club.
  • Projects Abroad coordinates volunteering trips throughout Central America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
  • United Planet offers short-term volunteer programs in South America, Asia, and Europe.

Off the beaten track

Wilderness-oriented students will jump at the opportunity for a week outdoors. Experienced students might plan their own adventures, and may be able to rent gear and equipment at the college rec center/Outdoor Club. If your student isn’t an expert backpacker or rock climber, joining a group is the way to go.

    • Many universities have Outdoor Clubs which sponsor trips.
    • offers a variety of outdoor experiences for students.
    • The American Hiking Society hosts hikes and trips in a number of states throughout spring.

Cheap Flights for Students

Life’s a beach

Vacationing somewhere warm is a classic choice, with Mexico and the southern U.S. popular destinations. If your student wants to relax on a beach, you can offer a big tube of sunscreen and advice on finding cheap airline tickets.

      • If your student will travel internationally, remind her to check the country’s travel requirements and to make copies of her passport and driver’s license (one to carry along, and another to leave at home).
      • View Spring Break Travel Deals Here

Finally, there’s a reason that spring break is synonymous with frenzied partying. Statistics support this reputation. This is a good time to touch base with your student about responsible drinking. If your student will be traveling, it’s appropriate to check in with reminders about how to stay healthy and safe. Some basic advice:

      • Drink water.
      • Keep an eye on drinks — and each other — in crowded places.
      • Be careful in hot tubs and in the sun, as both can heighten the effects of alcohol.
      • Make sure there’s a designated driver.
      • Avoid traveling alone.
      • Have a plan for emergencies.

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 Community Forum and College Parents’ Facebook group.

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