Reflecting on fall, planning for spring
Reflecting on fall, planning for spring

Miami Family,

Welcome to December and the end of final exams. Students are completing this first round of final exams, on top of the major life change of starting college during a global pandemic. After this, they deserve rest and plenty of time with family and (a very small circle of) friends during Winter Break.
Please make time with your student for intentional reflection on fall semester. This issue focuses on that reflection, planning for spring semester, and an overview of second-year housing options at Miami. It may also be helpful to revisit expectations for being home, which were discussed in the November Miami Family Focus. Find previous issues of Miami Family Focus on our Stay in Touch page.
Love and Honor,
Mark W. Pontious
Director, Parent & Family Programs

Reflecting on Fall and Looking Towards Spring

Right now, students may not think spring semester is anywhere near, since they are focused on final exams. But, spring semester will be here before they know it. This means a new class schedule, spring social and athletic events, and much more. The days of Winter Break and Winter Term are a great time to prepare for next semester.
Winter Break 101
  • Do a reality check: Take some time to discuss what your student thinks of college life and fall semester. Was the workload more than expected? How were the social pressures? What did your student miss most about being at home? Remember, the successes and disappointments that came in the fall are opportunities to learn strategies for future semesters, even with the uncertainty of attending college during COVID-19.
  • The color of winter: Many students see it in blue. Even those who are used to our frequently-gray weather may sing the blues during the icy days of January and February. Check in on your student's overall mood regularly. Once they get back to campus, you can also send a homemade care package as a reminder of home and loved ones. If things seem beyond the help of a cheerful phone call and some homebaked cookies, your student can meet with one of the many professionals in the Student Counseling Service.
  • Who you know and where you go: Involved students get better grades and feel better about life at Miami. Spring semester is a great time for your student to join a student organization - we have hundreds of possibilities.
First grades are (Almost) in
Fall grades will be available through BannerWeb beginning the afternoon of Thursday, December 17. If your student granted you access, you can also view grades at that time. College final exams and grades are often an eye-opening experience for students used to doing well in high school.
If grades do not match expectations, here are several questions to help students assess their performance. Did they: 
  • Attend every class?
  • Actively participate in in-person and synchronous classes?
  • Contact faculty members to introduce themselves or seek assistance?
  • Stay caught up on reading and homework?
  • Seek out tutoring at the first sign of difficulty?
If students can identify ways they could have done more, that serves as a guide for future semesters. No matter the GPA, encourage your student to take away the larger lesson of how to adjust study and work habits for spring semester.
Low grades? Be proactive.
We expect all students to adjust to the academic demands of college, and provide help to those who have difficulty doing so. Any student who earns a GPA below a 2.0 during their first semester is placed on academic warning. This is not to scare students, but to trigger an intervention process designed to enhance academic performance.
There are required steps students on academic warning must complete, including completing an online course. Scheduling a visit with the Rinella Learning Center staff for assistance through academic coaching and tutoring may also go a long way toward getting back on track. Exploring Rinella's self-help resources, which include topics such as time management, note taking, and study strategies, can start the process of doing better in classes before spring semester even begins. 
Housing Options for Second Year Students at Miami
This is the time of year conversations often turn to housing for a student's second year. Room selection for current first-year students occurs in the spring semester.
Miami has a two year residency requirement, meaning all full-time first- and second-year students are required to live on campus through the spring semester of the second academic year of their enrollment. In addition to the general room selection process in April, students have several additional living options for their second year at Miami. These include:
For more information, watch the early December webinar on this topic or visit the Room Selection page. Information is also sent to students in January.
Your student may also start talking about housing for their third year. The pressure to sign leases for junior year often begins during spring semester of the first year. They may have friends who have already signed a lease. Only about a third of first-year students sign leases for their third year, but the perception is that this number is much higher. Signing this early for 18-20 months from now can be an issue because:
  • Friend groups are still developing and may change drastically between now and then
  • Plans for studying abroad, internships, and on-campus leadership have not yet been finalized
Each year, we see families experience anxiety, frustration, and financial loss when plans and friends change. This forces a scramble to find a sublease or risk losing the security deposit. Many housing options are available in Oxford much closer to the beginning of the year. While the decision is ultimately up to you and your student, we recommend waiting a few more months before signing a lease for 2022-2023.
Don't forget that on-campus housing is also an option for third and fourth year students. Many students continue living on campus after their second year because of benefits such as location, included utilities, card-access security, and no need to worry about finding a sublease if going abroad for a semester. On-campus room selection for rising third and fourth year students typically begins in October for the following year.
Take Time Before You Sign a Lease
Miss an issue of Miami Family Focus? All past issues are on our Newsletters page.
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