12 Conversations for Creating Successful Second Year Students – Parent Programming Beyond The Fall

Ah yes…Fall on campus! There is nothing quite like it.

New students arrive on campus with their families in tow and begin the transformation from adolescence to adulthood. Cars are emptied, residence hall rooms are filled and decorated, commuter students form a plan of action and friendships are forged. Orientation programs are held to help students meet and acclimate and every student success support system the campus offers is heavily promoted.

But what about Winter/Spring term? The mindset on many campuses is that “everyone knows (or should know) by now all that campus has to offer, be involved in campus clubs and activities and be on ‘cruise control’ toward their sophomore year.” But that is often far from the case.

Many students struggle through fall term and although they survive to move on, they find it was no easy task. The same energy and “newness” is not present at the start of winter/spring term as it was for fall. This can leave students feeling reluctant to ask for help and make them feel apprehensive about their chance to succeed and become a second year student.

What can families do to help their student have the best chance of success and put them in a positive frame of mind to attack the next semester with a vengeance? Talk. For real. Have vital, open, honest, judgement-free conversations that foster a sense of team work and that we are “all in this together.”

Here are 12 conversations to encourage student success

  1. Discuss creating an appropriate communication pattern to adopt to keep each other informed and well connected.
  2. Is the major they are pursuing their true passion? How do they see their future unfolding, or how do they feel about what they (or the family) felt they “should” go into for various reasons?
  3. Have they formed some close friendships and if not, is there a way to get more involved on campus that allows them to meet others and find commonalities that blossom into closeness?
  4. If they entered college in a “romantic relationship” is that relationship still strong and vital or did it change over the course of the first term? If it did, how was it handled and how has it affected them?
  5. Is there an area of their life they still feel unprepared to handle effectively and if yes, what would help them feel more at ease and confident?
  6. Is the campus, their program, their living environment, their social life the right fit for them? If not, what can be done to correct any discomfort or ill fit?
  7. Are they still motivated to succeed and to reach their goals and exceed their expectations? It not, ask why and what can be done to invigorate their effort and attitude?
  8. Have they made friendships and formed alliances? Do they feel a sense of belonging on campus and sense as if they are making a difference?
  9. Do they feel as if their voice is being heard on campus and that their opinion matters?
  10. Have they used any of the many campus student success resources? If no, ask why and help find resources they can use this term to launch them toward success.
  11. Have they learned to manage their time, adopted a healthy lifestyle and created study habits that leave them prepared for class and tests? If not, can they seek out the resources that will guide them?
  12. Did they find a balance between being on campus and visiting home (or others) so that neither overwhelmed the other?


These are just a few of the topics, questions and areas that families can discuss with their student to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that no major area is going undiscussed. When problems or situations are left to fester or ignored as if they don’t exist, they can escalate into much larger problems down the road.

One simple phone call, a nice email, a timely text or a face-to-face visit can make all the difference. No matter how you choose to talk, it’s showing that you care that will never go out of style.



About the Author

David Coleman, 14-Time National Speaker of the Year and the only speaker ever voted Entertainer of the Year for CAM’s Reader’s Choice Awards! He has over 3,500 appearances worldwide speaking to more than two million people! David has been featured in: USA Today, People, Women’s World and ESPN The Magazine as well as having appeared on CNN, Fox and Access Hollywood. Beyond loved, David is inspiring, influential and is impacting someone’s life as you read this!

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