Wrapping up the semester and making the most of summer
Wrapping up the semester and making the most of summer
APRIL 2021, ISSUE NO. 14
Miami Family,

We are just over one month from the end of your student's first year at Miami! We hope this year has been filled with successes, in addition to challenges and learning moments. Some of the challenges are a result of the pandemic, but more than you might think are normal for a first-year college student.

As this year draws to a close, we need your feedback about your experience as a parent of a first year student. Please share your insights by taking our First Year Family Needs Assessment. The survey will take less than 10 minutes and will help us better serve you and first-year families in the future. 

This issue is focused on looking back at the first year, and taking advantage of opportunities this summer. As always, review previous issues of our newsletters on our Stay in Touch page.

Love and Honor,
Nathan Flyzik
Graduate Assistant, Office of Parent & Family Programs

Preparing for semester's end & move out

As we move into April, student organizations begin to hold their year end meetings and classes will meet for the last time before your students know it. There will be a mad rush of studying for final exams, packing up what was their home for the last year, and saying goodbyes to friends for the summer break. With all of this activity and excitement, you might have difficulty tracking down your student in the coming weeks.
If your student is moving out of a residence hall in May, make sure you review these details:
  1. Students may not leave belongings in the residence halls. Even if your student has been assigned to the same room for next year, all personal items must be removed.  
  2. Students who need housing during Summer Term should review the Summer Housing page.
  3. Help your student avoid fees by reminding them to clean their room, including their refrigerator, before they leave. The Move Out page has a checklist and other information about year-end procedures for residence halls. 
  4. All students must be completely out of their rooms by 7:00p.m. on Friday, May 14. Students who have extenuating circumstances must fill out an Extended Stay Housing Form with the Campus Services Center and will be assessed a fee per night. There is no charge for Friday if your student signed up by Wednesday night. If students fail to sign up, or do not sign until Thursday, May 12, the fee is $55 per night (including Friday). The request form is available May 1.
  5. Miami works with social service agencies in Oxford to host ShareFest at the end of each year. Instead of throwing away unwanted items, students can donate them to help those in need. The ShareFest site has a list of accepted items.
  6. Want more info? Join us for our Residence Hall Move Out Tips webinar TODAY- April 13, 1pm. A recording of the session will be posted at the same link later this week.
Finally, you may need to again have a conversation with your student about expectations for their time at home. The November issue of Miami Family Focus contained an article about the same discussion for Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks. 

Peaks and valleys: Reflecting on the first year

Taking time to intentionally reflect on several aspects of your student's first year will help develop a clear sense of what went well and what can be improved. This includes academic, co-curricular, and social challenges and successes. To get the ball rolling, here are some questions to ask:

  • Who do you spend time with? Surveys show that "Are you making friends?" is one of the most annoying questions to students, but is still important. Gently make it clear that you would love to know more about any new friends, how the circle of friends changed throughout the year, and what intentional and unintentional choices led to the current group. 
  • What are your favorite activities on campus? Has your student joined a club? We've got many great organizations, but some students over-commit and get exhausted during Spring semester. Find out if your student is wearing too many hats, or conversely, is still hanging back from finding a place (or places) on campus.
  • Do you feel like you took good care of yourself this year? This can be another sensitive, but important area to discuss. Did your student find the right mix of social and academic time? Did they eat well, get enough sleep, and make low-risk decisions related to alcohol and other drugs? Do they feel like they found friends who share their values and will push them to be their best selves? If the answer was no for any of these questions, how can they make different choices next year and how can you support these choices?
  • What have you discovered as your strengths and weaknesses in classes? Your student's GPA does not tell the whole story. The key is how your student studies and integrates new knowledge with current knowledge. Ask your student to think about how they study - including note-taking, paying attention in class, reading comprehension, and writing papers - and to analyze which aspects seemed successful and which need tweaking.
Asking these open-ended questions gives your student the chance to take the conversation in many directions, often revealing concerns or successes you may not have otherwise known. Not passing immediate judgment or pressing for more information is vital - let your student open up and talk as much as they want.

A major decision

Some students have not yet found their academic fit by the end of the first year, either because they started at Miami undecided or because the major they had in mind is not as appealing as they thought. There are many resources at Miami to help your student make their way through the options. (For those who have a student that has decided on a major, there are additional tips and strategies at the end of this article.) 
A major does not always equal a career. Students often do better in a major that interests them, which likely leads to fulfillment and career success in life. Our goal is the help students chart a course to a degree program by assessing their strengths, talents, and passions. You can help your student in this process by sharing your own experiences with different jobs and careers. 
The College of Arts and Science's to do list for University Studies (undecided) students is a great starting point for those in the process of picking or changing an area of study. Students are not required to choose a major until the spring semester of their second year, but it will be easier if your student narrows the options before that time. 
Students that have decided on a major may benefit from further investigation to confirm they are on a path that is meaningful for them. We suggest they speak with staff and faculty members in the field about the career they are interested in pursuing. Faculty and staff often know people in those fields or have personal experience in the field and can provide your student with further insight. Exploring internship opportunities through the Career Center will also help students begin to think about how they can gain an understanding of what it is like to work in a specific field.

Taking advantage of summer opportunities

The extended time many students have away from classes during the summer provides opportunities not as easily accessible during the fall and spring. Options include shadowing professionals in a potential career field, volunteering, taking a class, and more. Family members can look for ways to connect your student with people you know in the career or field that interests your student. All of these options can be done from home, making the most of the extended time in the community. Miami offers summer classes, online and on campus, assisting students in progressing toward their degree. Explore the Summer Term website for more information about options available through Miami.
 
Many students take classes at institutions closer to home. Make sure they first use Transferology to find courses that will fulfill Miami degree requirements. Students can also send an email to the One Stop to verify equivalent courses at other colleges: transfercreditevaluation@MiamiOH.edu.
 
As mentioned above, the Center for Career Exploration & Success offers a wealth of career planning resources for students and their families, which are worth an in-depth exploration. Students can also learn more about their own career interests by completing career assessments.
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