Here we are, the end of the fall semester. Part of me thinks the semester has flown by, but I also feel like time is crawling. The past nine months have been surreal, as we all know. But it’s also been a learning experience, don’t you think?
For me, I’ve learned that I really need to be engaged with my family and friends, and not just on Zoom or Facetime. Staying in my house for so long was eye-opening. I don’t want to just text someone or email them. I want to call them and meet them for coffee or see them at work. I’ve learned how important relationships are and that you shouldn’t wait to tell people how much they mean to you. It’s a shame that a pandemic had to teach us these lessons.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is our Missouri State students are strong and resilient. Faced with challenges every which way they have turned, they keep going. They are taking finals this week, when no one was even sure if we would complete a full semester; they’ve worn their masks even though it’s not their favorite thing; they’re taking care of themselves and their friends. They’ve learned a different way to take classes. A lot of life lessons for our young adults.
Missouri State has stepped up in a time of challenges, doing whatever needed to be done to take care of the students, faculty and staff. The university has stepped out of the box to design new ways to get things done. I knew I loved Missouri State before March, but the past nine months have made me understand that Missouri State is an amazing institution. I wouldn’t want to go through a pandemic with any other institution!
On December 11th, the Fall graduates will be walking across the stage wearing their masks and their decorated caps. It’s a different world none of us expected, but what hasn’t changed is that our graduates have worked so very hard to get to this point. They have so much to be proud of and what stories they will have to tell in the future. Maybe they are the first in their family to go to college. Maybe they have faced battles that no one ever saw. Maybe they’ve lost people close to them. Maybe they’ve faced health emergencies. Whatever they have faced, they have persevered!
So, it’s time for winter break. Enjoy every minute that you have with your student and family over the holidays. Listen to all they are saying and read between the lines. Let them sleep…they have worked hard and they need to recharge. Don’t plan every minute of their winter break. That was something I did when my kids were in college. They don’t want to be on a schedule, they want to spend time with you, see their friends from high school and eat their favorite food that you cook for them.
While your student is home, encourage them to think about the following tasks they need to get done:
- Complete the FAFSA. Missouri State’s priority date is February 1st. So get that done as soon as possible. https://www.missouristate.edu/FinancialAid/
- Encourage them to fill out the Foundation Scholarship application. The deadline to submit the application is March 1st. https://www.missouristate.edu/FinancialAid/Scholarships/msu-annual-scholarships.htm
- Have a talk with them about their budget and how that is working for them. Do they need to get a job? There are jobs on campus so they should look at those if getting a job is something they need/want to explore. jobs.missouristate.edu
- Have some conversations about mental health. Self-Care for a Bear is a real thing. College is a big stressor and, in a pandemic, it’s even worse. They are working to keep their grades up, stay involved on campus, hang out with their friends and learning a lot about themselves. Remind them there are resources on campus to help them. These include the Rec Center, Magers Health and Wellness, the Counseling Center and the Dean of Students.
Let your student know how proud you are of them. Share your life experiences and how you handle the challenges you face. Our students don’t often know what’s going on in their family members life so share with them. They worry about you also.
It’s been a pleasure engaging with you this semester. I am counting down the days to my family’s arrival to to celebrate the holidays (fingers crossed they get to come to Missouri). I look forward to the Spring semester and getting to work with you again. Never hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns. I am happy to help. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 417-836-3060 or text me at (417) 812-5468.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours!