Merry Christmas to all of you college searching students and families! This holiday season you may be sitting around the fireplace making life changing decisions about which school you will attend. Maybe you have asked Santa for that one special college acceptance letter or hope Rudolph will guide you to the right school with his bright and shiny nose.
There is truly no place like home for the holidays. What does this mean for students in college? One tip I often give to those asking how to be successful in college is to be strategic about how often to travel home.
You’ll be the most satisfied with your college choice if you connect with your campus community early. This involves staying on campus over the weekends and in the evenings as much as you can if you live on campus and attending whatever activities are available even if you commute. As difficult as it is to be away from family, you will have a harder time making friends at college if you are going home during every free moment. I find that the students that have the hardest time connecting are usually not making the effort to participate in the events designed just for this purpose.
But this doesn’t mean that you abandon your family completely and send coal home for their stockings. My suggestion is to have the holidays be your guide for when to go home. Colleges will have the academic calendar out ahead of time so that you know when each break will occur during the school year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break and summer vacation are great times to plan family outings, reunions with friends and spend time catching up with those you miss back at home. In between, connect with new friends and get involved in your campus community.
Parents may not love this “Home for the Holidays” tip. We know you miss your students so be intentional about planning facetime or skype visits so you can still see them . Send a care package or two during the year to send your student their favorite treats from home or some necessities, they will know that they are loved. It would be special to plan a trip to visit your kids if the school has a parent’s weekend or when you can plan for time in your schedule….just check with them first.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of travelling home when you select a college. You’ll want to budget for the expense of getting that sleigh over the river and through the woods. Many students are anxious to get away from home and some even search for a school out of state but that can make it difficult to get back to family. Take this into consideration when you are going over the finances and plan ahead so you can enjoy the holidays with those you love most.
So as you watch the snowfall or put lights in your palm tree, may you have a blessed Christmas. Enjoy being home this holiday while you contemplate your college options.