March is spring break month! Time to leave campus, sleep, travel to a (warm) destination and to socialize with old friends and family. It’s a well-deserved break that comes in the middle of your first semester if you just began college this January, possibly as an entering ‘Jan Frosh’, a transfer student from a 2-to-4 year institution or having returned to college after taking a leave. Starting college in the middle of the school year is a challenge in itself. As most new students traditionally start in the Fall, you are probably one of the few that began this term.
As is typical at the beginning of any new transition in life, students may have feelings of isolation, homesickness and anxiety. Keep in mind that most new experiences are not easy, so take the time and have patience while settling in. Hopefully by this month, you are feeling more comfortable on campus and more settled than you may have in January.
This month, I want to talk about gaining perspective on the first half of your first semester, while on spring break. Of course, students should take a break from studies, rest and relax but you should also take some time to think through any areas you can develop or change upon returning to campus. Whether you struggled to manage your time, organize your dorm room, develop new friendships, or achieve academically, here are a few tips to help you decode any problems or insecurities you may feel about one issue or another.
Spring Break Exercise:
1. Take a break and reflect.
First, take a step back from yourself and identify any experiences you might have had, that triggers a negative thought or emotion. What part of your experience at school thus far did you find the most challenging or difficult?
Second, try to think through why this issue had a negative impact on your new student experience thus far. What are the factors surrounding the issue you have identified as challenging? Take the time to reflect on your behavior.
3. Take action
What can you do about the issue upon returning to campus? Can minor changes increase your happiness?
4. Keep a Journal
You will see me discuss journal writing often. It is well established that students, and people in general, can gain emotional stability and confidence through informal journal writing. Upon returning to campus after spring break, start a journal to help express yourself and to keep a pulse on any existing or new issues that may arise.
Humans learn through experience. During a transitional period, new experiences can bring challenges we never faced before. Taking the time during spring break to assess these challenges will help you recharge for your return to campus and to complete the latter half of your first term on a positive note.
You have the ability to create the life you live and you can make that happen now.
First-Year Students in Transition Expert, Campus Calm