The weeks you’ve spent at UVM since August may seem to have flown by, but you’ve likely gained a whole new sense of independence and responsibility. Moving back in with family for a few days may feel cozy – and a bit awkward.
You are, possibly for the first time, in a position of having total control over every minute of your day. And your family is, possibly for the first time, in the position of having no ability to monitor your actions – or help you.
Add stress and distance to the mix, and it has all the makings for a communication breakdown. But there’s good news: you can help communication flow smoothly by setting a calm and mature tone.
Here are some tips for that post-turkey talk:
If you need to deliver news your family won’t like to hear (perhaps you failed a test or a class; or you got in trouble):
SAY THIS: “Do you have a minute to talk? Actually, to let me talk for a few minutes first? I just want to get it all out there before you react.”
DO THIS: Share what happened and acknowledge your role or responsibility for it. If you do, there will be no blaming questions that put you on the defensive. Remember to talk about what comes next. Will you get a tutor? Repeat the class? Go through a judicial process?
DO NOT DO THIS: Fail to share vital information with people who should know about it.
If you’re making plans that your family won’t be expecting:
SAY THIS: “I know I was planning to come home for Winter Break, but I wanted to talk to you about going to (other place) with (other person/people). I have thought about it a lot, and I would miss not being home, but I’ll be home three weeks later for Winter Break. I’d really like to be able to do this.”
DO NOT SAY THIS: “Hey, I’m going to New York for Winter Break with some people on my floor.”
If you’re telling your family why you don’t communicate as frequently or aren’t always available, or explaining why it feels like conversations are often tense:
SAY THIS: “I feel like we’re talking but there’s still tension. What’s really going on? Are you OK?”
DO THIS: Taking a mature stance is your best option. Helping people – yes, even your family – to take a step back and think about what’s really bothering them can help communication get back to normal.
DO NOT SAY THIS: “Why are you freaking out all the time?”
Changing the way you communicate with your family takes some practice – for you, and for them. Consider talking with an RA, an advisor, or a counselor if you want to think through larger communication issues or try out different ways of asserting your independence while respecting the fact that you’re part of a larger family unit where changes to formerly-usual communication patterns may be difficult.
Bottom line: There’s no better time to start. Just remember not to talk with your mouth full.
Students with disabilities or those who suspect a diagnosis can find resources in ACCESS. We work with upwards of 1,000 students each semester to provide accommodations like notetaking, exam proctoring, interpreting, removing residential or programmatic barriers, and disability related advising.
Disability advising centers around when and/or how to disclose, understanding your diagnosis, coaching on having conversations about accommodations, planning accommodations in future settings – study abroad, internships, advanced degrees, the workplace, etc.
ACCESS works with students who have any kind of disability, diagnosis or condition, including: Chronic pain, Attention Deficit Disorder, Lupus, Anxiety, Diabetes, Depression, Hearing Loss, Crohn’s, Eating Disorders, Learning Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Allergies
We can provide accommodations in many different ways such as: Classes, residential halls, events/activities/programming, clinicals, internships, study abroad, licensing/placement exams, etc. The Office of Institutional Research shows that students who begin working with ACCESS in their first semester tend to graduate in 4 years with a higher overall GPA. This may be because students feel they have a stronger support network and ways they can equal the playing field.
As one student stated in our May 2013 survey:
“Before I met with my ACCESS specialist I thought my grades and dreams were doomed. I had no idea how many options were available or what a huge difference they would make in my studies. I have gone from a C to an A average in one semester. The ACCESS services have been the most important positive change in my academic career. Thank you for all that you do.”
Our Senior Exit Interviews are another way we gain feedback from students who have used our services. We ask the following question of graduating seniors:
What advice would you give to incoming students who choose to use ACCESS?
The answer year after year can be summed up with: Use ACCESS early and often!
Other reasons to use ACCESS:
- Opportunities for scholarships, internships, part and full time work
- Understanding your rights as a person with a disability
- Participating in workshops, stress relievers and/or Disability Awareness Month
Things to know about working with ACCESS:
If you know you have a disability/diagnosis/condition:
- Submit documentation
- Come to ACCESS at the beginning of each semester to help make your academic transition go smoothly.
If you suspect you may have a diagnosis and want to learn more about pursuing an evaluation:
- Come to an ACCESS Informational Session
If you have any questions about our services or process for accommodations, please feel free to come by our office at A170, Living Learning [across from Alice’s] or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please visit us online.
We look forward to working with you!
Our goal in the Office of Student Services is to serve as a first point of contact for academic advising and support of all kinds.
During the first weeks of classes, we’ll be available to help you adjust your schedule, navigate campus, or just chat about your experience at UVM. As the semester progresses, we can discuss academic progress, concerns, and opportunities.
We promise to be available to meet with you throughout the semester, particularly during registration and the add/drop period; to offer advice on selecting courses and developing your academic plan; to help clarify UVM policies, regulations, programs, and procedures; to recommend appropriate sources of information and services; to listen; and to discuss candidly with you your academic performance and its implications on your future.
In exchange, we ask that you:
- Know who your advisor is. (Find out here!) You may meet with any OSS team member at any time.
- Gather relevant decision-making information, and accept responsibility for decisions.
- Keep your advisor informed about changes in your academic progress, course selection, and academic and career goals.
- Be familiar with the requirements of your major and keep up-to-date with changes.
- Be familiar with general university policies, procedures, and requirements. Understand that your advisor can make recommendations and remind you of rules and regulations, but that you have the primary responsibility for meeting program and degree requirements.
- Keep your advisor informed in a timely fashion when personal issues arise that interfere with academic progress, so that 1) your advisor can refer you to the appropriate campus resources which can help you, and 2) your advisor has enough facts about your situation to be able to assess your academic progress fairly.
- Contact and keep in touch with your advisor.
- Come prepared to your meetings with your advisor.
- Observe academic deadlines.
- Ask questions until you understand.
(Excerpted from UVM’s advising roles and responsibilities)
We know a little bit about most everything UVM has to offer, and we’ll point you in the right direction or walk across campus with you to find what you need – whatever it may be. We provide guidance, support, course recommendations, and occasionally free food!
As a first-year student at UVM, you are one of 2,480 students representing 41 states and 10 countries including Canada, China, El Salvador, Germany, India, Israel, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. You are also a member of one of the most talented and diverse classes in the University’s history. We look forward to getting to know you better!
Our office, located in 002 Rowell Building, is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for walk-in visits and appointments.
See you soon,
Erica, Kari, Sara, and Simrat
OSS First-Year Advising team