UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Seasonal Student Issues

First-year students go through incredible growth and change. Although each student is different, there are some general patterns to highs and lows of the college year. As a friend or family member it can be frustrating when you want to help but you don't know the best way how. Understanding where your student is coming from is a good start, offering your support and connecting them with campus resources is even better.

July - A New Beginning

Students living in the residence halls should begin thinking about what to bring to campus. Remember, residence hall rooms are typically smaller than a traditional bedroom, so it might not be a good idea to bring everything from home. When deciding what to bring, think about what is used on a daily basis. begin to develop a list of items to bring from home and also those items that need to be purchased. planning ahead will alleviate some of the stress as Move-In Day approaches.

Regardless of whether students are living on campus or commuting, students and families should begin to talk about expectations for each other. Consider topics like: communication, visits home and/or expectations at home, grades, alcohol, budgets, drugs, academic integrity, finances, friends, and jobs. Discussing these topics before arriving on campus allows students and families to understand and agree upon expectations.

Be prepared for the range of emotions that will be experienced in the weeks and months ahead. It is normal to feel excited, scared, hopeful, anxious, and nervous. Know that nearly 1700 other new UWRF students are feeling the same way and everyone reacts differently to all the stress and excitement.

August - Becoming a Falcon

The start of college involves a lot of change - perhaps moving away from home, navigating a new environment, and adjusting to different social and academic expectations. There are several programs offered that can support students during this exciting and challenging time:

Week of Welcome begins a few days before classes start and provides new students with the opportunity to meet classmates, explore campus resources, and learn about life as a Falcon. Participation is expected of all new students since we want everyone to have the information they need to make the most of their UWRF experience.

Academic Day marks the beginning of the academic year and welcomes new students to our community of scholars. Students will begin to network and form relationships with faculty and classmates in their area of study, gain a better understanding of academic expectations, and explore resources that are available to support student success.

WOW2 is a comprehensive First-Year Success Series offered throughout the academic year. WOW2 events provide new students with additional opportunities to meet classmates and explore campus resources, while developing skills for academic and personal success.

September - Establishing Routines

The initial excitement of the first few days has probably settled down a bit. The first few weeks continue to be a great time for students to meet new people, begin using campus resources, and get involved in events and activities. New students are encouraged to start thinking about involvement opportunities including clubs/organizations, study abroad, and undergraduate research. While students don't need to have all the answers, this is a great time to begin exploring the type of college experience they hope to create.

Students should be settling into a healthy routine of classes, work, social activities, and rest. Most students begin to understand that effective time management and maintaining balance is important to their success in college. Keeping a planner and schedule often helps students keep track of upcoming assignments, exams, events, and activities.

It's not uncommon for students who are living on campus to feel homesick, especially as they are still developing new relationships on campus. Students are encouraged to stay connected with friends and family at home, but it's equally important that new relationships are built here on campus Students are encouraged to explore River Falls and the surrounding communities. They will soon discover their new favorite places to shop, eat, and hang out with friends.

October - Getting Serious

As college exams and deadlines approach, many students feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. It's important for students to manage time wisely and find healthy ways to alleviate stress. Recreation and Sport Facilities offer a variety of wellness and recreation opportunities that can provide a much-needed break.

Students who are not performing well in one or more of their classes are encouraged to meet with their instructor to review key concepts, ideas, and test formats. Taking the time to talk with a professor can help students better understand the material and gain self-confidence.

UWRF offers a variety of free academic support services and tutoring through the Academic Success Center. Additional support for stress management, anxiety, depression, homesickness, and relationships is available through Student Health and Counseling Services.

It's important that students take responsibility for their success - this means seeking support and assistance early in the semester.

November - Ready for a Break

November is a busy month for students. Classes, tests, campus events, involvement, and friends demand a lot of time. Staying focused near the end of the semester can be challenging, yet it is necessary for academic success.

Some students over-extend themselves by signing up for a lot of extracurricular activities at the start of the semester. Now is a good time to evaluate priorities and improve time management. Other students may still be struggling to find their place on campus. Those who want to get more involved should visit the Office of Student Life for more information.

Students will be registering for spring semester courses. It is a student's responsibility to schedule appointments with their academic advisor. Students are encouraged to ask questions and discuss their academic performance, course selection, career exploration, and academic interests with their advisor when preparing for the upcoming term.

As the semester nears the end, students might also be a little anxious about their dwindling bank accounts. It's important to monitor and evaluate finances regularly to stay within budget, especially with the upcoming holidays.

December - Preparing for Finals

The month of December will go by quickly. Especially since most students are excited about the upcoming holidays and the end of the semester. Final Exams cause a lot of stress for students - particularly during their first semester. finding a balance among studying, resting, eating healthy, and recreation continues to be really important during this busy time of year.

With Winter Break approaching, students will need to make plans for their time away from school. For instance, students will need to decide when and how they are traveling home, how long they'll stay, and if they are bringing any friends. If they are remaining on campus during Break, they will need to sign up to stay with the Department of Residence Life.

Spending an extended period of time at home, after being away at college can be stressful on everyone. Planning a family activity or dinner is a great way for everyone to get reacquainted and to talk about expectations for the Break. Families are often eager to spend time with their student, which can be a bit overwhelming for the student if they are also trying to maximize their time with old friends, family, work, and rest. Talking about expectations can eliminate some of the confusion or stress.

January - Starting Over

January brings a new semester filled with all kinds of opportunities. During the first semester, students learn a great deal about time management, studying, making friends, and interacting with professors. The new semester provides students with the chance to start fresh with all their new understanding, knowledge, and experience.

As students receive their fall semester grades, they should evaluate their satisfaction, areas for improvement, support that is needed, and changes that need to be made. Carefully evaluating performance can help students identify key campus resources to support their academic success.

Some students might use a new semester as an opportunity to change their major. Most students change their education plan at least once, whether that is changing a major, adding a minor, or switching concentrations. Exploring other options is a normal activity for college students. Career Services can help students select a major, find internship opportunities, discover strengths, and develop a resume.

February - Weathering the Storm

Wisconsin winters can be tough. Freezing temperatures, snow, and ice can make students lack motivation for going to class. However, it is important to go to class on a regular basis - regardless of how rough the weather gets.

UWRF utilizes an emergency notification system that updates students on inclement weather, hazardous conditions on campus, or any other type of campus-wide incident. Students are encouraged to utilize these resources as well as others to stay safe during inclement weather.

Many students make plans for Spring Break as a way to escape the harsh winter climate. Whether students are going home, going on a trip with friends, or participating in an Alternative Spring Break trip like Destination, it is important to stay safe.

March - Maintaining Balance

March is a hectic month, when academic requirements and social activities often collide. Spring Break can provide some much needed fun, but it's also important for students to stay on top of classwork and plan accordingly. It's not uncommon for big assignments and exams to occur the week before or after Spring Break.

Some students use stressful situations as motivation to accomplish all they have left to do in the semester. For others, balancing midterms, papers, and extracurricular commitments can be overwhelming. Students are reminded to reflect on their responsibilities and prioritize their time by what's most important. It's also important to incorporate some kind of relaxation time as well - whether that's a workout or dinner with friends. If feeling overwhelmed persists, students should seek support from Student Health and Counseling Services.

April - Reaching for Success

 The pace of the semester really picks up during the month of April.  Students begin studying for Finals, preparing to say goodbye to new friends, and finalizing summer plans.  Students will experience a lot of academic, social, and emotional stress when completing their first year of college.  Parents, families, and other supporters can help students persevere despite a seemingly overwhelming task list. 

Talking about the academic and emotional stress with others can help students ease their tension and refocus for the remainder of the semester.  If stress is still taking over -- it's not too late to find a tutor in the Academic Success Center or to make an appointment in Student Health and Counseling.

As the semester comes to an end, students should also make sure they have finalized their summer plans and living arrangements for the upcoming academic year.

May - Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Congratulations! You made it through the first year of college. This is a great accomplishment and something to celebrate. Take some time this month to reflect on the first few days at UWRF, the new experiences, the challenging situations, and other significant milestones. Consider the progress, growth, and experiences from the first year.

This is also a great time for students to look to the future and set goals for the remainder of their college experience. Making new goals and identifying ways to achieve them with the support of campus resources is an important step in making the most of the college experience.

June - Exploring Possibilities

Summer often provides a much needed break from the rigors of academic life at UWRF. However, summer can also be a good time to stay active with volunteering, part-time employment, and/or internship opportunities. The summer months can provide a great opportunity to shadow a potential employer to explore possibilities and determine if the profession is a good fit. Students should analyze what they enjoy doing, what their strengths are, and what potential the future holds. Exploring options now can help solidify plans for the future.

Students are encouraged to keep in touch with their friends from campus and maintain those relationships during the summer. This helps students transition back into life at UWRF once classes resume in the fall. It might even be a good idea to schedule a weekend visit with friends to reconnect and bond beyond campus.

During college, students are faced with many choices and challenges. Values can be tested as students are exposed to new experiences. Below are some suggestions for conversations starters to learn more about your student's experience:

  • Tell me about your classes.

  • What activities have you participated in this week?

  • Tell me about the people living on your floor.

  • Did you attend all your classes this week? If not, why not?

  • Tell me about your favorite class.

  • What can I do to help?