Learning Curve

First-year college students need emotional support

By Mackenzi Frederick
Posted 2/8/18

February can be a challenging month for college students, especially freshman. Transitions – no matter how positive – can be stressful.

First semester and its newness has faded, winter …

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Learning Curve

First-year college students need emotional support

Posted

February can be a challenging month for college students, especially freshman. Transitions – no matter how positive – can be stressful.

First semester and its newness has faded, winter break is over and spring semester classes are in full swing. Bridges encourages the families and friends of college students to reach out to them. These college students will no doubt appreciate the connection, encouragement and even a care package.

First-year students face the transition into adulthood and all that entails, from managing their own finances and their time while juggling a full load of more rigorous coursework, a new environment and community, and for some, work.

Nontraditional students are busy juggling responsibilities – from work to family – as they transition into student life. February’s Learning Curve focuses on some challenges students face and possible solutions.

If students attend a residential campus, they may encounter a range of contrasts from their place of origin and previous academic environment. Their fellow college students, professors and campus staff may have radically different beliefs, ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds. This can be particularly true if they live in a dormitory.

College may be the first time a student will live with someone from a different background than their own. Resident advisors are trained second-to-fourth-year students who have a certain number of students for whom they are responsible and who share the same dorm.

They are great resources for helping mediate among a diverse group of students. They act as peer mentors, give advice, help problem solve, intervene when new students are struggling, plan social activities and enforce residence hall rules.

Support centers for underrepresented students, such as African-Americans, Asian-Americans, people with learning or physical disabilities, Hispanics, LGBTQ sudents, Native Americans and women can be found on many campuses and address challenges these students can face in their transition to campus. They may provide advisement, cultural programming, mentorship, scholarships and workshops. Their focus is on promoting diversity, student retention, and academic and personal success.

Students can access doctors, nurses and mental health counselors who can help them stay well or heal in body and mind at health and wellness centers. Most campuses have spiritual centers, where students can seek religious or spiritual comfort and guidance.

Learning centers offer tutoring in a variety of subjects. Students can access writing centers, where they improve their writing and editing skills. They can also attend trainings on study skills and time management.

Parents and guardians of new college students also face a big change although perhaps less so if they still have other children living at home. Their relationship is in flux as their child is leaving childhood behind but still needs emotional and financial support.

Parents may fluctuate between grief for the shift in an intimate relationship and excitement for a new stage in that relationship and in their own life. This is a chance to relinquish old patterns and discover a new path forward with different boundaries and roles.

For students, this transition period requires support in many ways whether from their network on campus or elsewhere. March 1-7 is Bridges’ Call a College Student Week. Be sure to call, text or email your college student. We advocate that families and friends stay connected with students and encourage students and families to stay connected with us. Call (575) 758-5074 or email Bridges at info@bridgesproject.org.

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