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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Learning Tips
In another few days, it will be November, signaling the start of the holiday season. For many college students, the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks are times to exhale and relax a bit.
After all, the hurdle of midterms is over and finals are not yet in sight. For first-year students attending out-of-town colleges or for newly enlisted members of the military, the holidays might be their first visit home in several months. So, how to enjoy the season is a timely question.
Students or servicemembers may experience some anxiety or even depression being away from their now-familiar environment on campus or on base.
Adjusting to Home Life after Being on Campus or Base
When students arrive home after living on their own, they often find that home isn’t quite the same as it was when they left. Family dynamics may have shifted somewhat. Parents find a “stranger” in their home while students suddenly have old rules to obey, warns Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing & Health Sciences, in Quincy, Illinois.
“A common area of conflict is parents’ reluctance to see their student as an adult who has been living on their own. It may be difficult to transition back to house rules after enjoying the freedom since college began. Parents and students can possibly negotiate a new set of house rules, remembering that both sides will have to give a little to make sure to enjoy a smooth holiday break,” the BRCN advises.
In U.S. News and World Report, contributors Lindsey and Julie Mayfield offer the following tips to adjust to the holiday breaks:
• Curfews: Avoid the “my house, my rules” confrontation over staying out late. A more practical and less restrictive rule is to simply provide an approximate time when you can be expected home.
• Family time: Whether returning from college or basic training, meeting up with old friends is usually a top priority. Parents need to understand this desire to renew friendships. Students need to “negotiate one or two days or events that are designated ‘family time.’”
• Conduct: Some habits picked up while away won’t fly at home. Try not to return with the “gift” of several weeks’ worth of dirty laundry. Don’t leave your room in a mess; you’re not rushing off to class now.
• Money: While you are at school, you must live on a budget. When you return home on holiday break, “try not to take advantage of your parents – or their wallets.”
Holiday Jobs Are Useful for Picking Up Extra Cash
Holiday breaks are a good time to push the refresh button and put down the textbooks for a few days. You might find short-term employment at retailers dealing with Black Friday or Christmas shoppers. Returning to school with some extra cash is always a nice option.
“Volunteering for causes important to you is [another] option that allows you to feel good and to add experience you may be able to call on later,” Mental Health America advises. “Whether you prefer to be at the gym, painting, or watching movies, winter break is an opportunity to fill your time with things that make you feel good.”
For example, American Military University students, faculty and staff join hundreds of other volunteers each year in the annual Wreaths Across America event in December. They place holiday wreaths on more than one million gravesites at national military cemeteries across the U.S.
Also, volunteers are always welcome at churches and community centers to box up clothing, toys and food items that will be distributed to needy families in the neighborhood.
Volunteering for such activities fosters a good feeling that will stay with you when you return to the classroom and hit the books again.