What’s on Their Minds? A look at the changing concerns of college students

This year, we’re taking a month-by-month look at college students. What are they often going through over the course of the academic year? We’ll share those thoughts here.

Parents can keep these things in mind as they interact with their college students throughout the year.

January

  • Students are readapting to academic expectations after an extended winter break.
  • If their performance didn’t meet expectations the previous semester, they may feel pressure to keep up with peers or maintain scholarships and aid.
  • Cold weather may trigger “cabin fever”.
  • New floor or housemates may disrupt the established living dynamic.
  • Students may have gained weight and lost money over the holidays.
  • They may miss again the security and positive reinforcements of home.

February

  • Academic pressures rise as exams approach.
  • Winter feels endless, and “cabin fever” may show itself in property damage in some residential facilities.
  • Job interviews lead some students to feel anxiety about their vocational direction.
  • Couples often experience transitions—becoming closer or drifting apart. Either direction may trigger its own anxieties.
  • Some students begin making tentative arrangements for fall housing.

March

  • Approaching midterms bring increased pressure.
  • Some students respond to stress with increased use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Students who are unable to cope with academic and social pressures may feel despair and require intensive help.
  • Seniors on the brink of graduation question their readiness and evaluate their overall educational experience.
  • Some students face difficult decisions regarding future housing plans.
  • Students with travel plans over spring break may struggle with finances.
  • Many will hunt for summer jobs over spring break.

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