If you have ever been the parent of a college student, you may have wished for a crystal ball to read your son or daughter’s thoughts.
Whether they seem distant, stressed, or happy during a family phone conversation or while home on break, you wonder, “What are they thinking?”
As college parent Kim Millhouse put it, “Parents, especially those who've sent their first child away for the first time, want to hear what students are thinking and processing in this stage of life. When your student comes home on break, it's hard for parents to connect and be engaged with their student when many, for the first time, have lived a separate life from their parents.”
Especially as Thanksgiving break draws closer, we know that you will want to make the most of your student’s time back at home. That is why we talked to real-life college students to find out what is on their minds during the semester -- take a look below to find out what your college student may be thinking when it comes to four main categories:
"I just finished the assignment for history, and now I have to study for logic and philosophy tests? How in the world am I supposed to keep up with everything and maintain a good GPA? I need more coffee..."
It makes sense that the most preoccupying thought in college revolves around grades. It is the number one source of anxiety for students— it feels like every other day there is a new paper, quiz, or project to stress about.
Students with scholarships tied to maintaining relatively high GPAs are more prone to letting grades dominate their lives. School is important, but your child should not be feeling stressed to the point where they are not able to fit in hygiene, friendships, or rest (non-school-related things). When you are on the phone with your child, check in with them to make sure they are striving for a healthy balance between school and self-care.
"I love my roommate, but I need some SPACE! I can't take the music she always plays anymore... Also, I how should I tell her that she needs to do her part of the Spanish group project?"
Navigating relationships with classmates, roommates, and teammates is a lot harder than the movies make it seem. Your child will make and lose friends during his or her four years at college. Help them understand that not all friendships are truly “best friends forever” and that a real friend is one who will weather any storm by their side.
When living apart from family, it can be easy for a college student to define himself or herself by a group of friends, so talk with your child about where he or she really finds identity— in Christ. And remind them of the verse Proverbs 18:24, which says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
"Let's see, I have $2.37 in my bank account, and if my roommate pays me back the $5 he owes me, I might have enough to buy dinner at Chick-Fil-A... Or I could eat peanut butter and jelly AGAIN."
Most students feel bad about having to ask parents for money and want to gain financial independence as soon as possible. But the reality is, when as a student taking a full load of classes, it can be hard to work enough hours to save up a substantial amount. If money seems to be something that makes your child anxious, make sure you are keeping them in the know about family finances, and help them understand the importance of saving for a rainy day and other ways to keep one’s bank account at a healthy amount.
"So there won't be any tests or papers in the 'real world'? Why am I doing this? I should drop out and live in a cardboard box."
It’s a common cry from college students: We’re expected to pick a major at age 18 that will carry us through the rest of our lives? Although many college student enters their institution of learning with a major clearly in mind, doubting their choice of major or even switching majors halfway through is not uncommon. And then there’s the question of how easy it will be to get a job in your major field, whether you will have to move somewhere new and unfamiliar for said job, and other worries.
Luckily, colleges have lots of resources for students researching their major options—from mixers with professors to appointments with academic advisors, your child should be able to find the information he or she needs. If your student seems to hate their major-required classes, or seems drawn to a different major, help them find the best place to seek out more information about the fields of study available to them.
Do you feel like you have more of a window into your child’s mind? Let us know in the comments below!