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Your Student's Experience



What they may be experiencing

How you can help


  • Campus is vibrant and energized with activities like Orientation
  • Some culture shock, feeling overwhelmed - they are experiencing many "firsts"
  • Exposure to diverse backgrounds and cultures - questioning values and beliefs, discovering interests
  • Homesickness
  • Discovering newfound freedom, making new friends and testing limits
  • Information overload - plenty to process in a short period of time
  • Financial pressure: tuition, books, university events, social events
  • Offer support but don't "crowd" them with too many calls or texts - agree on a good time to call
  • Maintain open lines of communication and offer non-judgmental listening
  • Encourage them to explore the campus and Halifax/Truro
  • Talk about their schedule and agree on a good time to call
  • Direct them to dal.ca/moneymatters for budgeting tips
  • Learn about funding sources available to your student and encourage them to apply
  • Encourage them to look for a part-time job using mycareer.dal.ca


  • The "fun" of starting a new adventure begins to wear off 
  • Anxiety over first set of mid-term exams
  • Thanksgiving break - excitement and nervousness about returning home
  • Relationship issues, particularly with pre-university relationships
  • Roommate conflicts
  • Self-questioning - do I really belong here?
  • This is a great time to send a care package - they'll appreciate the "pick-me-up" in the middle of mid-terms
  • Be understanding if they encounter academic difficulties - this is a huge transition and they need to know that you're supportive of them
  • Don't try to solve their problems for them. Brainstorm options together, break large problems down into manageable issues, and refer students to campus support for more assistance - empower your student to take control
  • Suggest your student make an appointment with Dal's on-campus social worker in Halifax or Health Services in Truro if they are having difficulty dealing with stress, relationships, or practical issues
  • Encourage them to get involved in campus life


  • Start to receive midterm marks & second round of mid-term exams
  • Realization that previous study skills/habits may no longer be as effective
  • Stress of multiple term paper and project due dates
  • Procrastination, studying hard, and working all night
  • Upcoming winter exams
  • Financial stress as money often starts to run low
  • Understand that they're busy and may not always have time to call, text, or email
  • Remind them that there are workshops to help them with exam stress and procrastination (dal.ca/learnwell)
  • Help arrange plans for the holidays


  • Experiencing final exams for the first time
  • Shorter days - less outdoor exercise and sunlight
  • Anxiety about returning home for the holiday break
  • Loneliness for students unable to go home for the holidays
  • When they're at home over the holidays, give them plenty of breathing room. Respect that they're been very independent over the last few months. 
  • If they have friends who will be alone for the holidays, consider inviting them to spend some time with your family


  • Start of another new semester, with many of the same feelings as September
  • Renewed homesickness after being at home for the holiday break
  • Difficulty getting back into the "routine" after being home 
  • Receiving first-term grades
  • Changing courses, majors, or even programs
  • Be aware that asking them about grades may cause a great deal of stress - if stress continues suggest making an appointment with Dal's on-campus social worker in Halifax or Health Services in Truro
  • Alleviate homesickness - encourage your student to call home and connect with family and friends
  • Encourage your student to get involved


  • Encourage them to meet with an academic advisor to discuss their options and plan for next year
  • Encourage them to make the most of their study break by focusing on studying or increasing their involvement in the community
  • Encourage them to get some exercise and have a balanced diet (dal.ca/livewell)


  • Academic pressure is high
  • Mid-terms and preparations for final exams
  • Finding summer employment
  • Understand that they're very busy at this time of year - try not to make too many demands on their time
  • Remind them that their co-curricular record can help with putting their best foot forward to their job search
  • Encourage them to make an appointment with an advisor and talk about their academic choiices (dal.ca/learnwell)
  • Encourage them to look for a summer job using mycareer.dal.ca


  • Final exams
  • Concern around fitting in with family after a long period of independence
  • Thinking about their academic future
  • Financial stress and/or anxiety over summer jobs
  • Congratulate them on completing their first year at Dalhousie University!