Your student may be preparing for one of the most stressful times of the semester –midterms! Many professors give exams or have students complete group projects or writing assignments during the month of October since it’s the midpoint of the semester. Below are some tips to that should help you support your student during this crazy time.
Encourage your student to seek out academic resources.
Your student probably has an idea by now of how he or she is performing in each class. If your student is struggling, encourage him or her to utilize additional time with professors during scheduled office hours. Remind your student that there are resources like the Campus Learning Center and Writing Center to help, not only during midterms, but at any point throughout the semester. This also might be a great time to reassure your student that asking for help does not indicate weakness, but rather shows that they are mature enough to know when they need a little assistance to achieve success.
Remind your student that self-care is really important during stressful times.
This means eating regularly and trying to select healthy options, exercising to relieve tension, getting adequate sleep, and being mindful about how stress is being handled. Did you know that Dining Services has a dietitian on staff to help students figure out things like how to snack healthy, maintain solid nutrition on a budget, and incorporate more produce into their diet? Cary Street Gym offers a variety of group exercise classes that are creative and fun like Aqua Zumba, Sunrise Yoga, and Hip Hop-We Don’t Stop, in addition to the individual cardio and weight training options available. The Wellness Resource Center provides individual consultations about stress and sleep management. University Counseling Services also provides individual and group therapy to help students. Challenge your student not to be afraid or ashamed to utilize the resources available.
Ask them to think about where they study best.
Some students are able to focus really well in the space where they live. Others find that this can be distracting because they are too comfortable there. Perhaps your student is able to focus only in complete silence or needs background noise. Did you know that the floors in Cabell Library are designed to accommodate all noise preferences? Encourage your student to check out “Club Cabell” (the second floor) if he or she prefers a more collaborative study environment with noise, or to check out one of the higher floors for whisper-only or complete-silence study environments. Consider making a deposit on your student’s RamBucks account so he or she can grab coffee or a snack at Starbucks to get through late night or early morning study sessions. There also are wonderful study spaces in the University Student Commons and Academic Learning Commons, in addition to many other locations on campus.
Stress the importance of starting early.
If we are all truly honest with ourselves, we can probably all admit to waiting until the last minute to begin working on a project. College students are no exception! While some students perform very well under pressure, it’s important to remind them to start studying and working on projects early to avoid all of the negative behaviors associated with procrastination like missing sleep, skipping meals, and being irritable toward friends and family. As I mentioned in my last post, time management is one of the hardest lessons to learn in college. Professors give out exam and assignment dates early (usually in their syllabus at the beginning of the semester) because they want students to have plenty of time to study and complete these assignments. If your student is struggling to remember information for an upcoming test, encourage him or her to spread the material out over a couple of days or weeks instead of cramming the night before the test. They can even utilize a planner or their Google calendar to plan study times or set goals for what they will accomplish each day leading up to exams.
Provide a little encouragement.
Sometimes receiving a little pick-me-up around this time is important. This may come in the form of a phone call or text just saying that you are proud of them and wish them the best on midterms. You might also consider sending your student a care package from home with a handwritten note or utilizing the VCU Care Package Program to order a special package to be sent to your student. You can be assured that your student will appreciate your support in whatever way you feel inclined to offer it.