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Learning Curve: Creating Balance between Academic and Social Interactions

A large part of the university experience is social in nature, whether that involves organized involvement opportunities or the way students choose to utilize their free time while out of classes. Hanging out with friends in the University Dining Hall, going to the movies with friends, late night gatherings on campus, staying up all night, choosing to hang out with friends instead of studying are just a few of the decisions students have to make on a daily basis. It would seem reasonable to assume that at some point during your student’s time at Bellarmine, he or she will make a decision which he or she may later regret. Perhaps, it will involve forgetting to write a paper, because of all the fun he or she was having hanging out with friends in the residence hall, or turning the alarm off instead of hitting snooze and, ultimately, oversleeping and missing class.  Has panic set in for you as a parent yet?  Don’t sweat it, below you will find a helpful guide to assess whether your student is excelling at academics or socializing.  Best case scenario they have developed a balance between the two.

The first clue of disorder or balance may come as your student completes midterms. Most courses in your students schedule have offered a test or quiz to help them assess how well they are learning the classroom curriculum by this point. Now is a great time to ask your student how he or she may be doing and if there are any classes he or she may be struggling with. Have you had a conversation that sounds like this?

Student:
“Hey Mom, I can’t really talk right now, just hanging out with some friends, we’re going to head to the store, and then hang out and watch some television.
Parent:
“Do you ever study? It sure sounds like you’re doing an awful lot of socializing and fun stuff, you are at Bellarmine to learn.
Student:
“Mom, I got this, I am an adult now, I know what I need to do to study, and make good grades.”

The conversation above is not uncommon. Students are working towards complete independence and want to have it all under control. Many times a student will respond to questions they deem as nosey, probing, or invasive with vague answers, which assert their autonomy. If you are faced with such an answer, try rephrasing the questions you ask.  The questions below may come across as more conversational and less invasive.  These questions are meant to probe and open a comfortable conversation about balance between social and academics. Begin with questions similar to the ones listed below.

Questions/conversation starters you could ask:

  1. How much time does a typical class load require?
  2. Do you have any tips on time management?
  3. When have you been the most successful in a class?
  4. How often do your friends study?
  5. What do you think your grades will be like for the semester?
  6. What did you learn this week?
  7. How do you balance fun/social time with academics?

Developing a conversation and dialogue will allow you the ability to gauge more accurately how much time is being spent academically.  It may be that your student is spending ample time academically but chooses to discuss the social side of things more often.  However, it will also be helpful to utilize your parental intuition to sense trouble; after all you have known your child for 17-21 years. Remind them of campus resources such as the Academic Resource Center (ARC), which is a great resource to visit if your student begins to send out an SOS for help.

Encourage your student to socialize but to also evaluate and determine what a balance between academics and socializing looks like.

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