JANUARY 2021, ISSUE NO. 10
Miami Family,
Happy New Year from Miami! We hope you have had a safe Winter Break and spent plenty of quality time with your student. Winter Term classes are underway, with many students taking courses over the next few weeks.
These weeks of Winter Term bring unique challenges, both for students engaged in a class or other significant activity, and for those spending the additional time at home. This special issue of Miami Family Focus provides an overview of what we learned about students during previous Winter Terms, information regarding roommate issues that may arise after an extended time away, and tips for Study Abroad planning.
Find previous issues of Miami Family Focus on our Stay in Touch page.
Love and Honor,
Mark W. Pontious
Director, Parent & Family Programs
Challenges Experienced by Students During and After Winter Term
Going into Winter Term and Spring Semester, families and students can prepare for common stressors we've seen other students experience. There are two common reactions, depending on a student's activity level during Winter Term.
For students who participated in a course, internship, or full-time employment, we've seen an unexpected strain in late February. Symptoms include feeling tired, stressed, and anxious about their workload, even moreso than the new pandemic normal. They feel the need for a break sooner than peers who did not engage in significant activities in January.
It can help to plan a short break in late February, such as a weekend away from the stress of academics and even social activities. Students should also plan down time during the five Wellness Days planned throughout the semester (in place of Spring Break this year). Wellness Days are indicated on the Academic Calendar for Spring 2021.
Some families struggle with the extended time students are home during December and January (you're not alone). It's enough time to enjoy being together, but also enough for tensions to arise that we usually don't see until summer. Students who lived on campus in the fall have likely developed new habits that may clash with family routines. Talk with your student to negotiate the needs and preferences of everyone involved. Review this article about finding success in their second semester, with helpful topics of discussion for the remaining time before they return to school.
During a year like no other, students may also feel disconnected from their Miami friends and even feel that they are missing out over break. Encourage them to (safely) reconnect with friends from home and stay in touch with friends from Miami. Remind them that their new Miami friends are also away from Oxford.
New and Revitalized Roommate Relationships
January is a great time to think about a student's roommate relationship, if they had a roommate for fall semester. Most relationships are successful because students have reasonable expectations and open communication. However, some need help to be successful. Every once in a while, roommates decide it would be best to change their pairings. Whether a student has the same roommate or a new roommate for Spring, below are good steps that will support positive roommate relations.

Reflect on Fall Semester

Roommates should ask each other and themselves questions to prepare for the new semester. How did things go between us? Do we have the relationship we both want to have? Were there incidents or situations we need to talk about? How did we do academically? Talking on the phone during the break, or connecting as soon as they return is a great way to reflect on fall semester and address any issues.
If your student did not have a roommate, how will they need to adjust to sharing their space this spring? What habits were fine in their own room, but may not be when another person also lives there? 

Plan for Spring Semester

Having a sense of each other's semester is also helpful. Are changing their study habits? Planning to join a student organization, including a sorority or fraternity? Getting a job on campus or in Oxford? Have personal relationships changed in any way that may affect the roommate relationship? When roommates share goals for the semester, they can help each other achieve those goals.

Revisit the Roommate Agreement

When students complete the Roommate Agreement in fall, we remind them it is subject to change. After a semester of living together, now is a good time to review and revise expectations. Roommates can revisit the Roommate Agreement by visiting their Housing account, where they can see their original responses and make changes. They should also explore the online roommate success guide.
Winter Break is a great opportunity to celebrate successes and make changes to promote future success. This not only pertains to academics and involvement, but also to roommate relationships.

Education Abroad: Planning Starts Now

January is not too early for first-year students to think about studying abroad. Despite the year and its challenges, there are still opportunities for students to study abroad, away, and virtually. Miami offers a large number of abroad opportunities and over 40% of students study abroad. The majority of students go abroad in one of Miami's faculty-led programs during Winter or Summer terms. Many other students study at Miami's John E. Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg. 
Parents play an important role in education abroad planning. You can empower students to start on what may be one of the most impactful experiences of their college years. Planning an abroad experience can take a year and requires research and attention to detail. Let your student know they have support, but also let them take the lead. Owning the process prepares students to be independent and successful, both while abroad and beyond.
Interested students should visit the Education Abroad site to explore programs, learn about financial aid, and schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor. There's a webinar today, January 12, about the Luxembourg campus. Join us or view the recording on our Webinars page. Education abroad is a formative experience with long-lasting benefits.
Miss an issue of Miami Family Focus? All past issues are on our Newsletters page.
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