First Year: Coming Home for Winter Break

The adjustment needed when a college student returns home for winter break can come as a surprise for some families. Accustomed to living on their own and following their own schedules, students may struggle with coming home — even just for the break. By opening the lines of communication and creating clear expectations, you can make the return the enjoyable and rewarding experience that it should be.

So, what can you expect?

  • Students will be recovering from the physical and mental strains of finals week. Don’t be alarmed if the top priority for your student is to sleep.
  • Catching up with high school friends may be at the top of students’ to-do lists. This is a healthy response and can affirm their ability to maintain long-distance friendships.
  • Have a conversation with your student about expectations for schedules, housework, and behavior during the month. Decide whether all of the original rules of the house still apply, and also consider some extra flexibility to take into account the newfound independence and autonomy of your student.
  • Discuss first-semester academic performance with your student. Remember that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) stipulates that students maintain formal control over their educational records, including their final semester grades. The best way to find out about final grades is to ask your student.
  • Don’t be surprised to hear your student refer to Madison as “home” or discuss viewpoints or values that may be unfamiliar.
  • Schedule time with your student to make sure that activities that are important to you aren’t lost in the shuffle.

If questions or concerns come up while your student is home for winter break, the Parent and Family Program is here for you. Contact us by phone or email.