Monthly supporter guide


Your student may experience any number of issues throughout the year. Below, you'll find a month-by-month guide to help you support students and point them to the appropriate resources on campus.

 

What they may be experiencing

How you can help

September

  • Campus is vibrant and energized with activities 
  • Some culture shock and experiencing many "firsts"
  • Exposure to diverse backgrounds and cultures - questioning values and beliefs, discovering interests
  • Discovering newfound freedom, making new friends and testing limits
  • Information overload - plenty to process in a short period of time
  • Financial pressure as tuition, books, university events, and social events add up
  • 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 community
  • Direct them to dal.ca/moneymattersfor 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

October

  • Beginning to establish a new schedule 
  • Developing new time management habits
  • The "fun" of starting a new adventure begins to wear off 
  • Possible anxiety over first set of mid-term exams
  • Thanksgiving break - excitement and nervousness about returning home
  • Relationship issues, particularly with pre-university relationships
  • Potential 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 
  • Encourage them to visit their professor and/or teaching assistant during their office hours
  • Don't try to solve their problems for them. Brainstorm options together, break large problems down into manageable issues, and refer students to resources on campus for more assistance - empower your student to take control
  • Encourage them to get involved in campus life

November

  • Starting to receive midterm marks & second round of mid-term exams
  • Realization that previous study skills/habits may no longer be as effective
  • Possible stress of multiple term paper and project due dates
  • Potential for bad habits to develop (procrastination and working all night)
  • Starting to plan for upcoming exams
  • Financial stress as money could be running low
  • Understand that they're busy and may not always have time to call, text, or email
  • Remind them that there are academic resources to help them with exam stress and procrastination 
  • Encourage them to seek out health & wellness resources to relieve stress
  • Help arrange plans for the holidays

December

  • Experiencing final exams for the first time
  • Shorter days - less outdoor exercise and sunlight
  • Possible anxiety about returning home for the holiday break
  • Possible 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
  • Encourage them to reflect on their first academic term - did they meet their goals? 

January

  • Start of another new semester, with many of the same feelings as September
  • Renewed homesickness after being at home for the holiday break
  • Potential difficulty getting back into the "routine" after being home 
  • Receiving first-term grades
  • Changing courses, majors, or even programs
  • Encourage them to check in with their academic advisor
  • Be aware that asking them about grades may cause a great deal of stress - if stress continues suggest seeking out health & wellness resources
  • Alleviate homesickness - encourage your student to call home and connect with family and friends
  • Encourage your student to get involved in campus life

February

  • 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 

March

  • Academic pressure is high
  • Mid-terms and preparations for final exams
  • Experience with "winter blues"
  • Making summer plans (courses, work, other)
  • 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 look for a summer job using mycareer.dal.ca

April

  • Final exams!
  • Concern around fitting in with family after a long period of independence
  • Thinking about their academic future
  • Possible financial stress and/or anxiety over summer jobs
  • Congratulate them on completing their first year at Dalhousie University!
  • Remind them that they have access to university resources over the summer