It’s April! We are finally done with our warm-then-cold winter, and the flowering peach trees are showing their beauty across campus. Midterms and Spring Break have come and gone, and soon the campus will be celebrating the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Academically, it’s about a six-week sprint to the end of the semester.
Freshmen are working on their Literary Tradition annotated essays about the Divine Comedy or Paradise Lost, and starting perhaps to dream about Rome. Sophomores are consolidating their Core knowledge and taking on some of their first big projects in their majors, while juniors are pushing hard in those major classes. (Of course, some lucky sophomores are heading to Florence and Venice and are about to experience Holy Week at the center of the Church.) Seniors can taste graduation … it’s right there, just around the corner … and are wondering what The Real World will present to them after they walk across the stage … but there are still classes and finals and still some senior theses before they can really consider those things. On the freshman end, friendships are being consolidated; seniors are already feeling nostalgic and hoping they can continue these great friendships in the next stages of their lives.
Emotionally, then, it can be a real up-and-down time for your student. Who isn’t cheered by spring and those beautiful blossoms? Yet this time of year can be difficult, too. For freshmen, the realization that their first year in college is so quickly coming to a close can bring on wistful feelings as they see how rapidly these four years will go, or some regrets about things they didn’t accomplish, didn’t get to do, this first year. At the other end of things, seniors know how quickly this has gone, and often a certain sadness can beset them as they see this special span of their lives flying by. They can be elated if they have that job or grad school spot locked down, or incredibly anxious about the future if they are not sure what the next step will be. Sophomore and juniors are somewhere in between — juniors looking to be the leaders on campus soon, sophomores realizing they are stepping into the real work of their majors.
Once again it’s good as a parent just to check in with these feelings, to listen, to validate them as real (whatever those feelings are), and to try to help the student see the larger perspective.