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 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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