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Keeping in Communication with your Student: Reflecting on Fall Quarter to Start Winter Quarter Strong

The New Student Academic Services unit housed within Student Housing and Dining Services is comprised of Orientation and Residential Academics.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your students transition into and through UC Davis. 

This is the third part of a series where we highlight part of the academic transition your student might be experiencing and questions you can ask your student to help support them through this transition.

In October, we focused on Academic Rigor and Support.  In November we focused on Faculty Connections, and this month we will focus on Reflecting on Fall Quarter to Start Winter Quarter Strong.

Congratulations to you and your student for making it through Fall Quarter!  If this was your student’s first quarter at UC Davis, it was a big transition for all of you!  I am sure there were moments that felt like the quarter would never end, and other times when you couldn’t believe how quickly time was passing, but here you are!

Did Your Student Struggle Academically this Quarter?

As we mentioned in a previous article, it is normal for students to struggle academically at UC Davis, and this may be the first time they have struggled.  Now that the quarter has ended, your student may not have achieved the grades they were hoping for, or used to earning.  Again, this is normal during their first quarter.  As long as they are in good academic standing, take the time to reflect on what they did well and where they can improve, and take action to improve, they can bring up their GPA in future quarters.

It is also possible your student finds themselves on Academic Probation (AP) or Subject to Dismissal (SD). If your student gets placed on AP or SD, they will receive communication from their College. It is important students read and respond to emails from their College. Just because they are on AP/SD does not mean they will automatically be dismissed from the university.   It is very important that they take the steps outlined in the communication, which is often scheduling a meeting with their academic advisor. You can support your student by reassuring them and encouraging them to meet with their advisor and following the instructions provided in the communication.

You can support your student by doing one or more of the following.  You know your student best, so choose what you feel will resonate the most.

  1. Normalize how your student is feeling.  If your student has shared how they are feeling, use that feeling.  It may sound something like, “I am sorry you are feeling (disappointed/anxious/stressed/not good enough) right now.
  2. If this is your student’s first quarter, normalize that it is normal for student’s to struggle their first quarter, and they have time to increase their GPA. Remind them of the major life transition that they just went through in September and all of the changes they have experienced over the past 3 months. It’s a lot.
  3. This may be a shock for you too, and you may feel disappointed or upset with yours student’s grades.  You might be paying for their education which may be adding to your stress or feelings.  It is important you accept this and talk with someone you trust, your feelings are also valid.   Be cautious about sharing your feelings with your student when they are still upset with themselves, especially in a way that will make them feel added pressure, disappointment, or shame.  In this moment they need your acceptance, support, and encouragement. 

If you have expectations about your student's academics, it is still okay to discuss that, but consider doing so once your students has had time to accept their fall quarter academic performance. This is a great conversation for when your student starts planning for winter quarter. 

  1. Remind them they were accepted into UC Davis for a reason, there are no admission’s mistakes.  They have what it takes to succeed at UC Davis, and you know they can do it!
  2. There is no such thing as failure if you learn from it. Ask your student what they learned and how they can use that to their advantage going into winter quarter.  Write these ideas down and check in with your student throughout the quarter to see how they are going.   

Reflecting on Fall Quarter

Whether your student was happy with how they performed, or struggled a bit, all students can benefit from reflecting on fall quarter by:

  1. Celebrating what went well  - papers, exams, group projects
  2. Identifying areas of improvement – study skills, time management, talking with faculty
  3. Making a plan so they are ready to start winter quarter strong

Questions you can ask your student over winter break to help them reflect on fall quarter and start making a plan for winter quarter:

  • What are you most proud of this quarter and why?
  • What do you want to improve on academically and what ideas do you have to do that?
  • Do you still think you are in the right major, why or why not?
  • What time management strategies were useful/not useful?
  • What academic support resources on campus did you use fall quarter? 
  • Which academic support resources on campus do you want to be proactive in using winter quarter?
  • What clubs or organizations are you interested in getting involved in?

Having a solid plan can help your student feel motivated and ready to start the new quarter despite their performance during fall quarter.  It is important for students to acknowledge when they need help and get it early and often instead of waiting until they are struggling academically.  Tutoring, success coaching, and office hours are just a few of the free resources available- encourage your student to use them.

If your student needs assistance and lives in the residence halls or The Green, they should connect with their Residential Academic Peer Mentor.  Peer Mentors are trained on the academic resources at UC Davis and to connect students with the best resource to help with their needs.  We are here to help your student succeed!

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