How to survive winter break with your college kids

You couldn’t wait for your son or daughter to come home from college. But after just a few days of picking up his or her dirty socks off the floor and trying to wait up for him or her, you’re not so sure this winter break thing is a good idea. Admit it. You’re already thinking about driving your son or daughter back to school. 

Before you hop in the car:

  • Expect some changes. He may have gotten a Mohawk or a full-sleeve tattoo. She may now be a vegan and won’t eat the pot roast you worked so hard to make.
  • Remember change works both ways. You may have changed, too. If you’re converted his room into a study, let him know before he comes home. Or, if you’re made significant changes to your life – you’re a vegetarian, you have a new significant other – let her know before she arrives.
  • Don’t be surprised by all the sleep. Your son or daughter will probably do a lot of it.  Remember, he or she just survived finals week and may be exhausted from the extra studying. Try to be patient.
  • Discuss house rules. You and your son or daughter should talk about these. Remember, he or she has had complete freedom while at school, so it might be hard to enforce a curfew. However, if you feel a curfew is necessary, be sure to explain your reasoning.
  • Expect some down time. While it may be tempting, try not to plan all of his or her time during break. He or she is going to need some down time, time to do nothing.
  • Don’t be offended if he/she isn’t home a lot. Your son or daughter will want to connect with friends, so he or she may not be home a lot at first.
  • Remember that the holidays are stressful for everyone. Remember everyone needs to have a little patience with each other.
  • He or she may not talk a lot about school.  And this may not have anything to do with you. He or she may just want to be at home and not think (or talk) about school.

If you’ve been through this before and have some suggestions we can share, just let us know.


How can you survive winter break at home?

You couldn’t wait for finals to be over so you could head home, get a home-cooked meal and chill. But, your parents are constantly asking where you’re going, your best friend from high school went to Disney World for break, and nothing is how you thought it would be.

In fact, you’re already counting the days when you can head back to school. Before you hop in the car (or hop on the bus) and head back to school early, try some of these suggestions.

  • Talk with your parents. Yes, they may think you’re still a kid, but you need to work out how they feel about a curfew or how often they want you to check in with them. You’re used to having freedom, but your parents may have house rules they want you to follow.
  • Take some time to relax. It’s easy to get caught up in all the holiday stress, but it’s important that you relax and recharge for the upcoming semester.
  • Remember to maintain a balance. You’re only going to be able to attend so many parties, eat so many holiday cookies, and spend so many evenings with friends and family before you crash. Instead of trying to do everything at once, spread some of it out.
  • Realize not everything is going to be as you left it. You’ve changed a bit in the time you were at school. Other people have changed as well.
  • Spend some time with your siblings. If they’re younger, they’ve probably missed your being home. If they’re older and on their own, they’re probably anxious to share college stories with you.
  • Take advantage of being home. Enjoy those things from home that you can’t enjoy at school: no roommate to drive you crazy, no one to take your clothes out of the dryer and dump them on the floor, 
  • Have some fun. Make a snowman. Ice skate. Read a book.  Watch movies with friends. Go to a zoo or museum. Take a spontaneous road trip.

If you can think of any other suggestions just let us k now. Have a great holiday season.

What are you going to do over winter break?

Last week, Ryan Rizzardi, our fall intern, gave you tips on how to survive finals week. Today, he tells you what he plans to do over winter break.

Thanksgiving break has come and past, and for students it gave us a little break before the final weeks of the semester. At this point in the year, everyone is ready for winter break.  For many, the winter break is a time to be shared with loved ones and celebrate the upcoming holidays. For this college senior though it will be a chance to relax and re-energize before embarking upon my final semester of my undergraduate career at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.  Everybody has traditions and plans for the holiday break, but here are some of my traditions and what I plan to do:

  • Hockey
    For the past four years, a few of my friends and I have made it our own little tradition to attend the last Pittsburgh Penguins home hockey game before Christmas.
  • Work
    As a way to make some extra cash before coming back to school for the spring semester, I have been working at Lowe’s Home Improvement ( the past three years during breaks from school.
  • Friends/Family
    The holidays are a good chance to catch up with friends and family members whom you have not talked to in a while.
  • Snowboarding
    Living in the middle of two ski resorts, Peek’ n Peak and Holiday Valley, I am hoping to be on the mountain as much as possible this winter break.
  • Relaxing
    Finally, what I look forward to the most this holiday season is a little rest and relaxation.

What do you plan to do over winter break? Let us know.

How can you help your son/daughter through finals week?

Your college son or daughter is studying for finals. He or she is more stressed out and edgier than usual. You feel helpless, but there are things you can do to help him or her get through the week.

College Parents of America offers several tips on how you can help.

First, remember that not all students will be stressing. Some students may not be nervous or intimidated about final exams. They may be more confident. If your son or daughter is one of them, congratulate him or her and relax.  However, if your son or daughter is stressing out, try:

  • Giving plenty of encouragement. Let them know that you understand that they’re under stress and remind them that they’ll get through this.
  • Sharing tips on how to get through the week. We offered several tips earlier that you can use. 
  • Sending something special. Mail a card. Send them a care package(We hear brownies are a beloved treat.) It’ll brighten their day.
  • Checking with them first before making any arrangements for their travel home. You may inadvertently make arrangements for a time when they have an exam, and that will contribute to their stress leve.
  • Not bothering them about issues at home. If it can wait until they come home, please consider waiting. This will help them stay focused on their finals.

Have you been through this before? If so, please share with us any sugegstions you might have.

How to survive finals week — another student’s perspective

On Wednesday, Alicia the Awesome Intern gave you her suggestions on how to survive finals week. Today, we hear from another awesome intern, Ryan Rizzardi, a public relations major from Warren.

The semester is coming to an end and it is time to face the music. Finals are right around the corner, and for many students it is finally hitting them that time is getting short. Students are bombarded with stress and pressure throughout the last few weeks of the semester. What do you do? Luckily, there are several tips that I have gathered in my four years here on how to survive finals week.

  • Exercise
    Exercise is one of the best ways of relieving stress during finals week. Go to the gym and hit the weight room, take brisk walks, run, and play sports with friends. These are all good ways to let off some energy and regain concentration.
  • Breaks from studying
    Studying nonstop is not helpful. Eventually your concentration will be broken, and the material you are trying to learn will not be retained well. It is better to study for short periods of time and come back to the material.
  • Eat healthy
    With shortage of time in a student’s busy schedule, students often eat whatever is quick and tasty. Eating healthier foods will help students maintain concentration and memory. Also, take advantage of the food that Metz, the food service at Pitt-Bradford, provides for students at night during finals week in the Frame-Westerberg Commons.
  • Choose your environment carefully
    Although the campus offers 24- hour quiet hours during finals week, sometimes it is hard to study in your dorm room. Find a quiet place, in which you feel the most comfortable.

We hope the three days’ worth of suggestions help you. If you have any to offer please let us know.

Good luck on your finals.

How to survive finals week — a student’s perspective

On Monday, we gave you the “official” suggestions on how to survive finals week. Today, we offer advice from our cooler-than-cool  intern, Alicia Hooks, who has only one more semester to go before she graduates, so she should know how to get through the week.

Finals are right around the corner for most of us. Here are some tips on how to prepare for them:

  1. Study, study, study.
    This may seem redundant, but it is the key to doing well on finals.
  2. Make use of office hours.
    What better way to get the answers to your questions than to ask your professor in person.
  3. Form a study group.  It’s pretty self-explanatory: Gather a group of people (who will not distract you) in a classroom or quiet room in the library and crack open the books. These people do not have to be in your same field of study.
  4. Take breaks during your studying.
  5. Know your schedule.
    Finals week schedules can be found on your school’s main site. Here you will find Pitt-Bradford’s fall class schedule. The finals schedule is at the very end. Know it because if you miss one, it will be hard to make up.
  6. Do not – and I repeat DO NOT — procrastinate studying.
    Last minute you might find out there’s something on your exam that you forgot to study…too bad! That final is in 20 minutes. Don’t let this happen to you.

On a non-academic level, my tips are pretty generic. They are just about the same thing you’ll find everywhere:

1. Get plenty of rest.
Your brain will function much better when it’s not tired. Plus you will feel and be a happier person.

2. Eat throughout the day and definitely do not skip breakfast.
Having a well fed body and mind is important to being successful.

3. Drink plenty of water.
It’s like playing a sport. You want to make sure you and your brain stay hydrated.

4. Do not stress.
Stress puts unwanted strain on your mind, but more importantly your heart; it just cannot take the strain. Also, don’t allow your friends or other people’s stress to affect you.

5. Stop studying/cramming about 30 minutes before your final.
If you don’t know it by now, you probably will not know it in time for the test.

6. Stay calm.
If you have prepared for the test, there is nothing to worry about.

Those are some of the ways I have learned over the years to prepare for finals. I hope they help you. Keep in mind, too, that there are plenty of resources at your fingertips. =] Happy studying.

How to survive finals week

This is the time of year college students dread – finals. It’s the time of year when you have tests or papers due in each of your classes – all at the same time. Yikes.

However, there many things you can do to survive finals week. The Huffington Post offers nine awesome study tips, which include alternating your study spaces, making flash cards, and not immersing yourself in one subject.

Closer to home, Mary Coller, the director of Pitt-Bradford’s Advising Center, offers several other suggestions on how to survive finals week, including getting enough sleep. In other words, pulling an all-nighter is not a good idea. If you’re tired, you’re probably not going to do well. 

She offers several other tips:

College Fashion offers six tips to beat final exam stress:

  • Avoid stressful people. Stress can be contagious so resist the urge to study with your super-tense friend.
  • Eat healthy and exercise. Skip sugary treats and snack on granola bars, fruits and veggies instead. If you’re studying for a long time, eat some protein. Also, get some exercise, even if it’s a 10-minute walk.
  • Don’t let people take up your time. You’re going to have to say no to those people who will distract you, like the friend who will spend hours talking about his or her problems.
  • Take a break. For every hour your work, take a 10- or 15-minute break. During that time, do whatever you want, then start working again. This will give your brain a rest.
  • Visualize it all going right. When you imagine a happy ending – like acing that exam – that’s often what happens because you make the decisions that lead to it without even realizing you’re doing it.
  • Maintain your confidence. If you’ve prepared as much as you can, then get yourself in confidence mode; convince yourself that you’re going to do well.

Good luck. We’ll be offering more times all this week, so stick around.