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We are now half way through the semester. Now is a good time to check in and see how things are going.  At the beginning of the semester we discussed short term and long term goals.  Now is a good time to assess your progress and how determine if any adjustments are needed. How are your short term goals shaping up?  Have you been successful in achieving those goals? Did you miss the mark? How about the long term goals, are you close to making the mark?  Did you under/overestimate your projected progress?

If you have achieved your short term goals and are on track to achieve your long term goals, you should reward yourself.  The reward doesn’t have to be big or anything major, it would be a simple treat to acknowledge your efforts and keep you on track to meet the next set of goals.  Think ice cream, favorite dinner, or a movie; a small token to reward your efforts.

If you have not achieved your short term goals and not on track to meet your long term goals, you should begin to evaluate what has happened (or not happened) to meet the marks you set.  Was there an event that prevented you from achieving the goal?  Did you underestimate the time, work, or commitment to achieve the goal? Assess the progress of the goals and determine if you have enough time to revamp the goals, reduce the goals, or increase attention to complete the job.

The same assessment of your goals, should be the same assessment of your studies.  Are you on track to pass your classes? Did you do well and feel confident during midterms?  Are you giving EACH subject the required attention?  Are you spending enough time in the library?  Are you going to your professor to ask for clarification?  Are you utilizing peers, campus resources, and time wisely?

With half of the semester under your belt you should consider how successful you will be in the course.  Asking yourself if you will pass the course, if you should drop the course, or if you have enough time to turn things around.  If you are passing, you want to continue utilizing the system you have in place and seek any ways you can improve in any area.  If you are considering dropping the class, you will need to examine the ramifications of withdrawing from the class. Will this affect your transcript, your grade point average, and length of your coursework completion? If you have enough time to turn things around, look at how you arrived to this point.  What are your study habits? Where can you pick things up?  What can you do differently? Are you utilizing your resources?

Midterms are a time to complete a self-check.  If things are going well, continue on the path and end the semester strong.  If things are not going well, change the course and dedicate more time effort and energy into ending the semester strongly.

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Parenting comes with a certain level of expected hovering. How do you determine how much is too much?  Legally at the age of 18 you are an adult, but in the eyes of your parents you are still their little child that needs them to help solve problems and care from them.  This notion will not just cease, because you go off to college. Parents will have a certain level of involvement in your college career.  They want to ensure you are on track, completing the things you need to do, and ultimately are successful.  Getting to their definition of success may involve more of them than you would like, but you will have to learn how to balance showing your responsibility and respect for all your parents do with gratitude for all they have (and will) done. Below are some do’s and don’t’s for monitoring your parents’ involvement in your college life.

1.      Do let them know how you are doing in class.  Share hardships and successes; don’t let grades be a surprise.  If you are keeping them in the loop along the way, they will understand and celebrate your achievements.

2.      Do share when you face adversity; share it with your parents.  Use them as a sounding board, but don’t let them handle the situation.

3.      Do let your parent know when you have done ALL that you can to resolve a situation.  Don’t let them believe you have done ALL you can do when you have not.

4.      Do tell them the whole truth. Don’t send them to resolve an issue with only half truths.

5.      Do let your parents know you appreciate their support.  Don’t assume they know you care.

6.      Do find new ways of thinking and viewpoints on life.  Don’t let their antiquated ways of thinking blur your path.

7.      Do communicate regularly with your parents. Don’t disappear by not returning calls, changing plans without giving them an update, or not coming home as scheduled.

Having an engaged parent can be very helpful as you navigate through college.  However, having an overly engaged parent hoovering over issues, calling the staff for every minor issue, escalating issues out of the hierarchy order, and showing up to the university frequently.  You want to take on a certain level of responsibility for your success in school, you do not want your parents to resolve issues or guide you through college.  Part of college is leaving not being the same person as when you started.  So take some of the responsibility off of your parents and show your ability to resolve issues and succeed.

It is Christmas Eve and the holidays are among us.  You have finished your first semester and your family is excited to have you home and hear all about it. Don’t be surprised when the family plays 20 questions with you at the dinner table.  The family will be excited to hear about your classes, what you are learning, and of course who you are dating.  Save the frustration and the embarrassing line of questions.  Prepare for potential questions and have responses ready for the family.  They do not mean to pry they are excited to see how you and how you have grown in the last 4 months.

Going home can also create a certain level of expectations. Be sure to communicate your expectations with family. If you plan to divide your time between family, work and friends be sure to communicate that information, as they may have plans for you.  Friends will want to interact with you, family will want their time with you, your partner will want to spend time together, and then there are the things that YOU want to do.

Be sure to communicate your plans to avoid disappointment.  Let your family know your plans; when you plan to come home, if you plan to sleep at home each night, nights you plan on going out with friends, how much you need to rest or catch up on reading. Whatever your plans are be sure to communicate them and be flexible if there are last minute changes.

Going home is a great time, but can also cause stress and frustration.  The key to a happy and stress-free Winter Break is communication.  Everyone will want to see you and know about your first year, oblige them and share the details of your experience.  Make time for everyone and do not allow anyone (or thing, avoid overusing your phone, tablet, or laptop) to monopolize your time.  Utilize this time to catch up, but also enjoy the break and do things that will help you enjoy your break.

It the most wonderful time of the year….or is it?  Thanksgiving and Christmas are great times to go home, take time away from school, and to refocus. Going home is a great time to reconnect with friends from high school and enjoy new friends you have met over the semester. Home is also a time to check in with the family and provide them with an update on your progress this semester.  Prepare share yourself.  Friends will want to interact with you, family will want their time with you, your partner will want to spend time together, and then there are the things that YOU want to do.

Be sure to communicate your plans to avoid disappointment.  Let your family know your plans; when you plan to come home, if you plan to sleep at home each night, nights you plan on going out with friends, how much you need to rest or catch up on reading. Whatever your plans are be sure to communicate them and be flexible if there are last minute changes.

If you have embraced a new sense of self, explored your new freedoms, or have a new outlook on life, that it may not be readily received from the family.  For almost two decades, your family and friends from home have known you a certain way, so coming home a newer person may be a surprise and may take some adjusting on their end. Be prepared for questions on your major, what you plan to do with your degree, how your dating life is progressing, what organizations are you a part of, etc.  Have answers prepared and sound enthusiastic to share.

Have you lost contact with old friends? You can use this time to reconnect and pick-up where you left. Find out what is new with them and share your experiences away from home.  Spend time with your partner and let them know how much they mean to you.  Long distance relationships are tough to navigate through and holiday breaks are a good time to reconfirm your feelings and commitment to each other.

Going home is a great time, but it does bring a certain level of stress.  You could be pulled in different directions and be expected to share yourself with everyone.  Utilize this time to catch up, but also enjoy the break and do things that will help you enjoy your break.

It is almost Thanksgiving time; which means you have survived more than half of the first semester, midterms, and homecoming. By now, you and your roommate should have a good understanding for each other’s preferred lifestyle. For some your relationship is one that is great, while for others you may be at your breaking point.  It is at this time you have to realistically look at the situation and determine can you tolerate the situation and make adjustments or do you need to explore the options you have at the time. Thanksgiving serves as a time where roommates can go home take a break, regroup, and come back to school refreshed to finish out the semester.

If you are experiencing roommate conflicts, you may want to use the Thanksgiving break to relax, focus your energy on something else for a few days, and determine a way for you resolve any issues you may have.  You will need to be realistic and ask yourself, is my roommate violating my rights or are they just not meeting my standard.  It is one thing to have a roommate who violates your rights as a resident, puts you in harm’s way, infringes upon your privacy, etc. There is also a distinct difference in the two of you having varying definitions of what it means to be clean, quiet, or how to entertain guests.  Decide for yourself what is acceptable for your living environment and what is not acceptable for your living environment.  After reflecting on your experiences and detailing examples, confirm how you feel about the issues.  A room (suite or apartment) meeting should be scheduled with your roommate(s) to talk with your roommate(s) and create house rules or complete a roommate agreement.  If you feel like you and your roommate are past amicably resolving the issues you will want to enlist the help of your RA.  Your RA is trained to help residents talk through issues and resolve any tension they may be experiencing.

Before you decide that things are just not working out and want to move, consider if you have done everything that you could do in the situation.  If rights are not being violated, it is probably a rather simple situation where you will need to compromise and meet in the middle.  Relationships are about compromise and realizing that someone does things differently than you may do things can be difficult to adjust to. Evaluate if your requests are reasonable. It is reasonable to ask your roommate(s) to discuss overnight guest prior to them staying, but it may not be reasonable to ask your roommate(s) to never have guests in the room.  It is reasonable to request that your roommate(s) not disturb you while are studying, but it may be unreasonable if you do not reciprocate.  You will need to compromise and meet in the middle and find a solution that will work for both of you.

If you feel your rights are violated or you have exhausted all possibilities, you may want to consider changing rooms.  It is not reasonable to say “they’re the one with the problem so they should have to move”.  For the sake of happiness you may have to be the person to move.  If the staff interjects they will ask who wants to move and if no one volunteers then depending on the issues all roommates may be forced to move.  It is okay to move on after you have done all you can in the situation. Right before (or during if possible) Christmas break is a great time to change rooms. It will serve as a fresh start when the new semester starts. You want to make the moving out process and smooth as possible. You never want to burn bridges, it is a small world and you never know when you may come across that person or someone that knows that person in the future.

Not all roommate assignments will work out.  It is important to remember to give differences a chance and not to be judgmental and closed-minded.  It may be awkward and require more attention at first, but as long as you develop and display a mutual respect for each other, you should be able to make it work for the short time you will be living together.  When your relationship hits a little turbulence, do not run away, stick it out and do everything on your end to make it work.