The advising period for the spring semester course selection has begun. Students are barely back from their short Fall Break and they get to turn their attention to their midterm grades (now posted in WIN) and also to think about the next semester.
A word about midterm grades. I have seen some advisees with a grade they find unpleasant, and some of them are inclined to panic about it. The good news about a midterm grade is that there is still room to improve it. Students with troubling grades have a variety of options: 1) go talk to the professor and ask for suggestions to improve, 2) go to the Learning Assistance Center to sign up for individual or group tutoring, 3) take advantage of departmental help centers like the Writing Center, Math Center, or Chem Clinics, and 4) form their own study groups.
Parents, my best advice to you is when you see your student’s midterm grades, don’t flip if you see a bad one. Ask your student what he or she can do to improve, and what resources on campus might be helpful. Then let them find the answers through their own research and effort.
In terms of next semester’s classes, you can help your student by listening more and talking less about their schedules. If they choose to talk to you about their potential classes, instead of saying “yes, take this” or “no, don’t take that,” consider asking them reflective questions back, such as “what excites you about the idea of taking this class?” or “how did you determine this was one you wanted to take?” That way, you are still talking to them about what they are considering, but you are letting them in a sense think out loud about what they want to do and why. And they are also going to be more pleased in their choices if they are the ones choosing them.
So much personal growth occurs in our students when they make their own decisions. The more well thought out, the better. And every time they research possibilities on their own – whether courses or internships or which student organization to join – they become more and more confident in their ability to manage their own lives.