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Information for Parents

Information for Parents
Common Stress Periods
Exam Week Stress

Information for Parents

Most students experience some difficulty in adjustment when entering the college environment. Some suggestions for helping your child through this period are:

Don't panic. Listen carefully to concerns and complaints, recognizing three things:

A) There may be other ways of looking at things, so keep an open mind.


B) After kids have a chance to "vent" their frustrations and fears, they often leave
things behind. A few minutes after they're off the phone with you, and while you're getting more and more worried, they may be feeling much better.


C) Take your time; involve Clarkson University staff early on and don't act hastily or
without being fully informed on all aspects of a situation.

Encourage your student to seek assistance from the resources available on campus. Let them set up appointments with Clarkson University staff members; their faculty members; the Counseling Center; Academic Support Services; the Student Health Center, etc. If you are concerned that they may not be following through sufficiently, and want to make a call to campus personnel yourself, it is a good idea to talk that over with your daughter or son before doing so. S/he may prefer that you not do so, and even if you decide you are going to make a call anyway, it is important for your student to be informed of that.

During their first year at Clarkson University , or any university setting for that matter, students sometimes allow fears of parental disapproval -- real or imagined -- to inhibit their academic explorations. It is important to make it clear that you have confidence in your son or daughter's abilities to explore new horizons while improving knowledge in existing areas of interest. This can be a time of exploring new educational horizons.

There will be times when you are not happy about something going on in your student's social or academic life. Telephone disagreements can leave everyone feeling upset and demoralized. It can sometimes be helpful to gather information first, and then take some time to think and sort it all through. Decide what your reactions are, how fair they are, and how strong a stand you really want to take. Then re-establish contact and talk the issues through in as calm and reasonable way as your can. Enlist help from our staff if you feel that it might be useful, but don't necessarily expect us to be able to persuade your son or daughter to see things only your way.

Having usually been accustomed to parental care, students often have a tendency to "tough it out" when they are ill or exhausted. Encourage your student to take advantage of health and counseling services early, rather than risking their own or others' health.

Expect that there will be low times for everyone, and particularly stressful periods of time. Try to be as supportive, loving, and patient as possible at such times, reassuring your son or daughter -- and yourself -- that there can be plenty to be learned from such times. Life takes unexpected twists and turns; people do not always behave as we might have hoped or expected.

Letters and care packages from home always provide a welcome lift to anyone's spirits.

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Common stress periods for Clarkson University students

Some notes for parents and students-
Sometimes just knowing that students' thoughts and feelings are not unusual among their peer group can help everyone feel a little better. However, when those thoughts and/or feelings interfere with life's activities, including school work, it may be time to speak with someone who can help. Never hesitate to contact Clarkson University staff members to discuss these issues and concerns with someone who cares and can offer helpful suggestions. We can also make referrals to appropriate offices on campus equipped to help with a spectrum of difficulties.

The following "symptoms" are not unusual for students at these and other times of the year. However, that does not mean that you have to go it alone. Never hesitate to make use of one of Clarkson's many resources to help through the experience.

Typical adjustment issues have been identified according to times of the year.

SEPTEMBER

• Homesickness, especially for students away from home the first time
• Judgments, values, and questions of conscience – particularly regarding such issues as alcohol and sexual activity
• Feelings of inferiority: The “Everyone’s smarter than me here” syndrome and “I’m not sure people like me”
• No parents close by, for the first time, many students have to make all their won decisions, sometimes this can seem overwhelming

OCTOBER

• Clarkson University life may not be what the student expected
• Might not be part of a group yet, or might not feel comfortable with the first new set of friends
• Work load pressures and self doubt
• First set of exams – worry over grades
• Concerns over whether or not to drop a course
• Former boyfriend or girlfriend might have found someone new, or there may be worry that it could happen.  High school or summer relationships may have cooled.

NOVEMBER

• Mounting academic pressure and “mid-semester” slum
• Worry over not feeling adjusted to college yet
• Financial worry – “My parents are making such sacrifices, and my grades so far are not worth what they’re paying.”  “I’ll lose my financial aid if my grades don’t improve.”
• Career and academic major dilemmas – “I can’t see myself doing THIS forever.”
• “I’ll never make the kind of friends here that I had in high school.”
• Not finding enough time for a social life or to exercise.  School work is taking so much time

DECEMBER

• Seasonal social scene in conflict with the end of semester time crunch
• Fear, stress, guilt over not having worked harder as final exams approach
• Worry over family conflicts (or old relationships) as semester break approaches
• Hopelessness – “I’ll need a perfect final exam just to pass the course.” (Usually followed by great relief and a sense of satisfaction.)

JANUARY

• “Break was great; now I dread going back to school.” (Although don’t be surprised or hurt is the sentiment is more like: “I can’t wait to get back to school; I’m getting bored.)
• Decrease in hours of natural light and cold temperatures may create a sense of isolation and seasonal blues

FEBRUARY

• “I thought this semester would be better, but so far it’s not.”
• “I need to decide where I’ll be next year and pick a major soon.”
• “I need a life!”

MARCH

• Drug and alcohol use on college campuses increases; roommate irritabilities rise
• Increased academic pressure, once again
• “It’s no use; I might as well give up on academics and start having some fun”

APRIL

• Increased academic pressure and realization that the semester is almost over; some nostalgia begins to develop along with regret at seeing the year come to a close

MAY

• End of semester panic
• Exam pressure and anxiety
• Sorrow over leaving friends
• Worry about plans for next Fall
• Summer job woes

(Adapted from the NASPA Journal)

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Exam Week Stress

It's exam week and the end of the semester has arrived. Suddenly, it's crunch time. Thinking about the papers you have to write and the studying you need to do before you take those finals can seriously stress you out. Have a game plan can help you avoid stress and substantially increase your chances of success.

Here are some tips you help you cope during exam week:

1. Get moving. A little bit of exercise will decrease your stress level and make your studying more productive.

2. Eat smart. Ordering pizza may seem like a good way to get dinner when you feel like you are too busy to leave your computer, but it's not a great idea. Eating a well-balanced diet will give you the energy you need to get through the end of the term.

3. Establish your priorities. Three papers to write and four exams to study for, all in the next week? Decide what you have to finish today and what can wait for another day or two. You can't do everything at once.

4. Create a study plan. Once you've decided what your priorities are, you can make a study plan. Make a schedule for what you are going to do each day. Don't forget to leave the room for short, but frequent, breaks.

5. Set realistic goals and reward yourself when you reach them. Maybe you can't write all your papers in one night, but you can get a rough draft of one done. Set a goal and work towards it. When you have gotten there, reward yourself with a dinner with friends or a walk outside.

6. Do what works for you. Some people need silence and others need quiet music. Some people study well with a partner while others work better on their own. Figure out what is best for you.

7. Listen to you body. Headaches, sore muscles, and nausea are all signs of stress. If you aren't feeling well, you may need to change the way you're studying.

8. Take time to relax. Getting away from the library for a yoga class or some other activity will help you focus when you go back to studying.

9. Recognize and accept you limits. You're an English major taking physics this semester? Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Not many people get A's in every class they take.

10. Celebrate the end of exams. You made it! Hang out with some friends and have a good time. You worked hard and should be proud of yourself.

We hope this information will provide some reassurance for parents. However, we also welcome any direct correspondence with any concerns. Please call the office at 315-268-2327.

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