The Stresses of Spring
Kerri Carmichael MA, PC-CR, DCC
Oscar McKnight, Ph.D., PCC-S, LSW, DCC
The spring semester means different things to different students; some see it as a few short weeks of academics punctuated by time to relax in the sun on spring break. Others, however, see it as a "crunch time"—one that can produce all sorts of anxiety. It's at these times that the Ashland University Counseling Center becomes particularly helpful. Located in the Student Center, open five days a week while students are in session, it's staffed with two full-time professionals and two graduate-level interns whose job it is to help our students cope with the stresses academic life can bring.
We have found that as students progress through their academic journey at AU, they encounter different stressors at different times, but they often feel particularly stressed during the spring semester. Here are a few of the more common situations we see, and what you as a parent can do to help your student through them.
FRESHMEN often feel anxiety about the transition from school to home for the summer. Having experienced the freedom of being on their own and setting their own rules for the first time, they're not sure what to expect when they're back under their parents' roofs.
You can help by sitting down with your student, and chatting about what
you expect from them when they return home. Talk about curfews, rules
and chores, and do your best to listen as much as you talk in order to
hear their concerns.
SOPHOMORES often struggle with the concern that they may have chosen the wrong major, causing them to feel anxious since they are now finishing their second year of college. Summer employment is also a cause of concern for this group.
You can make a big difference by sitting down with your student and
asking about both their classes and their major, and trying to gauge how
happy they are. If it's apparent that a change in major needs to occur, it's
best to be supportive, as they are more likely to succeed in a major they enjoy.
JUNIORS tend to start worrying about summer internships and field placements.
You can encourage your student to seek assistance at the Career Services Center on campus and to keep open the lines of communication with their professors and advisors.
SENIORS often struggle with the reality of leaving the college lifestyle and entering the "real world." This is the time when seeking full-time employment or looking into graduate school is top of mind.
You can help your student network if you know of any available jobs.
However, it's important to remember that your student needs to find
employment he or she will take pleasure in, not something you as a
parent want them to do.
When all is said and done, nothing is as important as simply keeping an open mind and having a listening ear available. And if your student needs a little extra help to deal with all of the stresses that spring can bring, encourage them to visit the AU Counseling Center anytime.