A new semester is underway at Baylor, and with it comes the excitement of new classes, a new calendar year and a new season ahead: spring.
What can get lost in the shuffle is this—spring semester isn’t just a mirror-image of the fall semester. The two halves of the year have a very different character and structure. The most notable difference is in the number of breaks: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Spring Break, Easter Break and Diadeloso. Students will enjoy far more time away in the weeks ahead, but with that free time comes responsibility—more discipline is required to make sure students stay on track amidst the welcome holidays.
"The fall semester just feels so long for everybody. There's just one day off—fall break—between Labor Day and Thanksgiving," Dr. Jim Marsh, executive director for Baylor Counseling Services, says. "Spring semester, though, is really different. There are lots of days off. And that means there’s more for students to consider.”
Here are four tips from Dr. Marsh and Dr. Martha Lou Scott, associate vice president for Student Life to avoid second semester traps and make the most of springtime at Baylor:
1. Resist the temptation to extend breaks
Over the second-semester’s many holidays, adding an extra day to extend the break a little longer may seem harmless. But students can take too much time off and fall behind, which can mitigate some of the rest enjoyed during the time away.
“There can be a tendency to want to take those breaks and add on days, to try to extend that break into a longer weekend,” Marsh says. “Those things add up."
2. Avoid overconfidence
Hopefully your student had a great fall semester. Students deserve to feel satisfaction about first semester success, but they should also take care to ensure they don't become overconfident—particularly freshmen who have not experienced the rigors of college life for multiple semesters.
"After one semester, you have enough information to make yourself a little dangerous," Scott says. "Freshmen who did well can have a tendency to think, 'That wasn't so bad.’ Well, it wasn't so bad because students went to class and turned in assignments on time. Parents can help freshmen understand the relationship between their discipline and their success.”
3. Set realistic goals and expectations
Baylor students harbor high expectations for themselves, and that diligence is repeatedly evidenced through achievements both in and out of the classroom. There is, however, a balance—students should strive for excellence, but they should not harbor unrealistic expectations for performance. It’s an area where parents can help their students.
"Unrealistic expectations are detrimental to students because they lower motivation," Marsh says. "Parents can talk to students about realistic expectations. It's not realistic to expect a 4.0 GPA every semester. The takeaway for parents is, if students are harboring unrealistic expectations for performance—in many cases, because they think that's what parents want—having that conversation might clear the air so they don’t carry extra weight."
Parents can encourage their students to remain disciplined and pursue excellence while not burdening them with unrealistic expectations in the new semester.
4. Take advantage of campus resources
Baylor offers numerous comprehensive resources to help students find success in the classroom, in the job and internship search and more.
Marsh asks, "What other time in your life are you going to have all these professionals whose job is to help you be successful? Students too often don't take advantage."
Students are encouraged to take advantage of resources like the Paul L. Foster Success Center
, the Writing Center
, Office of Career and Professional Development
, the Baylor Counseling Center
, Baylor Student Life
, Baylor Spiritual Life
, Baylor Wellness
and dozens of other resources. These free resources exist to help your student academically, spiritually, emotionally and physically through the assistance of professionals whose heart for students is exhibited through excellence in their areas of expertise.
Second semester is here. We wish your student the best of luck in his or her new classes and opportunities!