When Kids Come Home from College

How is your college student spending his winter break?

It’s prickly, tends to roll into a tight ball when agitated, sleeps all day, runs around all night and is living in my house. Yes, my son is home from college. It’s been a couple of weeks now and his schedule consists of rising somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m., working out, eating, going out with friends and slinking back in sometime before sunrise. I have said every day at about 2:30 p.m. for the past week, “Please put on pants, my first student will be here soon.” There are 19 days left until he goes back to school.

Most college winter breaks last about 5-6 weeks, which is too long to be laying around the house like a lox and too short to get a job. I was trying to remember back when I was in school if the break was this long and, since I have no memory, I couldn’t so I looked it up. I found out that winter break wasn’t
always this long. Back in the ‘70s, when many colleges were having financial problems, they found if classes began in late August and had a longer winter break, they could reduce spending and save on heating costs. Good for the school, but not so good for the students.

In an effort to utilize the weeks between semesters, most schools offer one credit winter intercession classes. This sounds like a great idea, but there is one small problem, all campus housing is closed. I asked my son about it and he said he didn’t know of anyone doing intercession classes at school or among his friends at home. I know it’s a little late, and I truly wish I, and/or my son planned ahead, but there are some alternatives to having your kid turn into a sloth during winter break:

  • Seasonal Jobs (for next year) — There are some out there with retailers (I used to work at a sporting goods store over winter break), restaurants (one of my students was parking cars during holiday parties), babysitting and shoveling snow (if the weather cooperates) to name a few.
  • Volunteer Work — Aside from the many volunteer opportunities at home, there are tons of “volunteer vacations” where students can go abroad and do some good. I Googled “Winter Break Volunteer Opportunities” and got pages of information.
  • Look for a Summer Job — This is prime time to begin looking for a summer job.

As for my own kid, when he isn’t foraging for food in his boxers, he is doing some administrative work for me, filling out summer camp applications and trying (in vain) to motivate his brother to weight lift with him.

Today he honed his life skills by having me teach him how to make tuna fish and he even allows me to take him out for lunch one or twice a week to fill me in on his life (see first paragraph).

So, it hasn’t been a complete waste of time, but you can bet next year will be a whole different story.

Donny January 09, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I like her articles.
Ana Draa January 09, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Oh my gawd Donny....a postive comment, well done! I too like her articles, as do several other mothers I know who read the Patch.
Rainstreet January 09, 2012 at 06:11 PM
That's fine but don't call it academic corner. Call it "One Mom's View". That is more appropriate.
Ana Draa January 09, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Ms. Schaefer is an Academic Coach (aka professional tutor). She wrote an interesting article this past fall called "Freshman Faceplant", for first year college students' families. I'm sure she's a volunteer contributor, most Patch articles are from those in the community who take the time to give. My thoughts are, if her writing is not your cup of tea, why not move on to an article you enjoy. Or, if you think you can do better, why not volunteer your services to The Patch!?
Susan Schaefer January 09, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Thanks so much for your support Ana and Donny (I enjoy reading your comments as well Donny:-). It seems Rainstreet is concerned about my credentials. I am a state certified teacher with a Master of Education from Temple University and a Master of Arts in teaching from National-Louis University. I was employed as a classroom teacher in School District 21 before moving to Connecticut (but am still a BG girl at heart). Now I am an academic coach and student advocate. If you are interested in learning more about that you may visit my website at www.academiccoachingct.com. Since I write a weekly column it is sometimes a challenge to find a topics in education that I feel would interest my readers. When that is the case, or if something comes up I feel my readers might enjoy, I stray a bit from the academics and dip into the gene pool (my teenage sons). If there is a topic you would like me to cover, please go to the "email the author" link at the top of the page and email me your suggestion.
Sully January 10, 2012 at 12:05 AM
While I don't doubt your credentials as a teacher, Susan, I do take issue with your presentation as an expert on all that you cover. I especially had a problem with your column on ADHD with regards to its simplicity and brevity. You did nothing to really educate parents on something that for many, can be a very serious matter. It was somewhat like a television news program teaser that's supposed to be covered after the commercial yet isn't. I would simply ask that you choose your subjects responsibly and with careful consideration as to who your readers are.
Susan Schaefer January 10, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Which article are you referring to Sully? I have written several. I think you mentioned the lack of depth in my articles before and I apologize for that. I am supposed to keep it around 400 words, but rarely do. That is why so there are several "series" articles. If you would like to see more about a particular subject just let me know and I will do my best. I do not claim to be an expert on all subjects regarding education, but do work extensively with students diagnosed with ADHD and Executive Functioning Disorder (again, to see more about what I do feel free to have a look at my we site). I have covered this subject in several articles which are listed in the archives.
Donny January 10, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Susan I would be interested on your thoughts, observations, studies, etc. on correlations of student academic success in regards to: parents marital status, birth order (I am a father of five), parenting styles, and/or household income. Have a good one!
Sully January 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Susan, thank you for your response. I too am in the education field which is why I only ask for responsible and carefully considered presentations. I understand the restrictions imposed on you with the word count, but when you only put tidbits about a particular subject while leaving out a whole lot more, you may confuse the reader who is less knowledgeable. If you are going to write something about ADHD for example, you may wish to consider stating that if one wants more information or has a question about one's own child, consult a doctor who specializes in the disorder. Depending on what they say, teachers can get into trouble when they bring up the subject of a medical condition to parents. It is not (or should not be) a subject that is taken lightly. There is simply too much disinformation out there. Thank you again for responding.
Donny January 10, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Alan Danenberg January 10, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Sully - I suspect that is why the column is headed "Opinion". Susan's credentials are clearly stated in her writings, but as an "Opinion" from a well-educated, certified, and experienced teacher, her "opinions" on educational matters are well-formed. I highly doubt that any parent would embark on treating a medical condition based on an "opinion" stated in an online blog. While my kids are now grown, I have found that Susan's writings have some good information in them, and often relate some interesting personal experiences. That doesn't mean I agree with everything she says, that's why we call them "opinions". Sounds like you have much to contribute on the educational front; I suggest you offer to write a blog yourself and share things that others could learn from, rather than just criticizing someone who has chosen to volunteer her time to help inform others. In the interest of full disclosure, Susan and her family were neighbors of ours when they lived in BG. In my opinion, based on the years I have known her, she is a dedicated educator, and has some great thoughts on the field.
Sully January 10, 2012 at 07:30 PM
I'm not questioning her skills or her abilities, or her dedication. Based on experience though, there are people who will take her opinions as gospel. Teachers and academic coaches do not and cannot make the diagnosis of ADHD. Teachers and parents both put enormous pressure on each other by either trying to convince one that a child has, or does not have, ADHD. Much controversy is due to interactions between parents and teachers (neither of whom really have the expertise) regarding this disorder. While both obviously have necessary information and know the child pretty well, there is much more than just that. There is nothing wrong with Susan's opinions, but as she is published, she should be aware that people may take something she opines about and take it to be fact, whether she means it to be or not. I really wasn't trying to start a huge argument. I apologize, Susan, if I have offended you, and I apologize to the readers who misconstrued my intent.
tanya Kittle January 19, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Susan, I loved your article "When College Kids Come Home"! My freshman son came home for winter break and I had the exact same experience you described in the first paragragh! It was great to have him home even though I only saw him around 11am everyday and he was ready to start his "day" around 11pm when I was getting ready to end mine. It was actually kind of bittersweet to say goodbye to him. Thanks for you article!
I agree Alan, as a person who has heard from him too, in a similar way, I think he has a lot to say.


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