celebrate your college student

Taking Time to Honor the Semester’s Completion

Looking at the time between graduating high school and completing the first semester of college, both students and families undergo so much change. For the most part, students may be just settling into the college routine by the time the 1st semester ends and usually, it seems to even take a few additional months of the 2nd semester for it to really feel familiar and manageable. In some ways, we honor these changes through graduations and orientations but we don’t tend to offer much more than a huge sigh of relief for college students finishing up their 1st freshman semester. So I ask you this question… How will you help your college student celebrate this completion? Especially with the holidays, people tend to get swept away and this article is about how taking just a moment to celebrate is very important for our college students.

Rituals of celebration can be both small and big so depending on your family style, you can always find a way to celebrate your child’s end of semester.

The important thing to remember is that taking time to celebrate isn’t just about giving a gift or splurging on a celebration or trip, it’s about taking time to highlight the aspects of growth and celebrate their success. If you are close to your child, taking some time to talk about what they may want to do different could be positive. However, if that leads to conflict normally or your college student is sensitive about this topic, I would recommend, just focusing on the positive.

Simple celebrations include:

  • Just taking the time to tell your student that you notice this big step. Asking questions and listening to what your child got out of the experience.
  • Choosing a gift of any size to celebrate the ending of each semester (perhaps this a collection of something that they will receive in pieces over the course of their 4 years).
  • Giving your student a new privilege in honor of their new step in life. Obviously this would need to be something you are comfortable with but if there’s something they weren’t allowed to do in high school, perhaps they could get that privilege now.
  • Letting them choose the entire or part of the holiday meal.

Larger celebrations could include:

  • Big family dinner where everyone gets together in honor of your college student.
  • A special trip to recognize their accomplishment.

Sometimes after such a busy semester, college students want to relax and do nothing over the break—a lot of attention may not be what they want. Don’t force your child to do something they don’t want. You could even collaborate and come up with something together. And if they seem really resistant, remember just naming this big step and offering a gesture can be a big thing. It doesn’t have to include everyone.

In summary, celebrations can look any way but be sure to remember these 4 tips to make your celebration rituals a success.

  • Acknowledge that this was a big step, no matter how it turned out
  • First focus on the successes versus mistakes or failures.
  • Ask your child what they have learned and how they are different than the year before.
  • Ask your child what they hope for the following semester. This may be where if they did make mistakes, they get a chance to say what they want to be different.
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Carey J. Cook, LPC

Carey J. Cook, LPC

Carey J Cook is a Licensed Professional therapist in Asheville, NC. She has a private practice and is the co-founder of Bridge Box which was inspired by her work with college students. In different capacities, Carey has provided education and therapy to college students and families for over a decade. Carey seeks to understand and support college students during this phase of life and provide tangible tools to students via Bridge Box.

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