When “Home For the Holidays” Doesn’t Feel Like A Break: Expectations

For many people, the break between the fall and spring term at school is a welcome chance to rest, recharge, and reconnect with family. However, sometimes it isn’t that simple. Over the next few days, we’d like to provide some suggestions and resources that might help you with common problems that people face year-round, but may find to be especially burdensome during a time when so many people feel pressure to have “perfect” families and family moments.

Not meeting expectations related to work or school:

Ideally, everyone would have great grades while in school, a job that challenges them in a positive way that earns a good living and provides a sense of accomplishment, and a personal life filled with love, friendship, and happiness. Those are all great things to aspire to, and our own personal feelings on these aspirations may be mirrored or felt even more intensely by parents or other family members. However, life sometimes falls short of our dreams– at least temporarily. The good news is that there are ways to accept your “perfect imperfections” while also moving forward in a positive direction.

To work on your grades- Students who are struggling with their grades might find something of value in this item from College Confidential. Their parents might find some useful insight in this piece. If you’ve come to realize that part of why your grades aren’t where you want them to be is related to time management, you might find some things that will help you next semester here, here, and here.

To improve job prospects- Generally speaking, the job market is tough– and recent graduates are often especially vulnerable to challenges in finding jobs. Something that may be a good thing for students and other job seekers to consider is making a profile on a career-related site like LinkedIn. Students also usually have access to Career Services offices on campus, which often provide assistance and training for job-seekers. For people who aren’t currently enrolled in school, you may be able to find some valuable information by contacting your state’s Department of Labor or a similar office.

To expand and enhance relationships- For people who are having a hard time connecting with others (for friendship or dating), sometimes it helps to find common activities or interests. Students can check in with their student activities office to see if there are any organizations that involve their interests (these are often affiliated with the Student Affairs division). Just about anyone with a computer and internet access can use a site like Meetup to find people with similar interests (or in similar situations). In fact, sometimes, you can even do double-duty, because there are often groups for singles interested in specific topics or activities (e.g., single salsa dancers, single Wii U fans, single hiking fans). You may feel like you are the only person at your school or in your town who likes (fill in the blank with your favorite thing here), but you probably aren’t. Go find your people!

To improve your overall outlook– Even if your life is never quite perfect, you can be a happy person with a great life. Feeling and expressing gratitude for others can have a very positive impact on your mood– and may even give you the boost you need to achieve in areas of your life that are currently giving you challenges. Being generous can also provide similar benefits, while also giving others a chance to reap the benefits of feeling gratitude towards you! By focusing your thoughts and feelings on kindness, appreciation, and reciprocity– and encouraging those thoughts and feelings in others– you can turn what could be a stressful time of shame and blame into the start of a brighter future.

So, those are just a few things to get started… What advice would you give someone who was struggling under the weight of expectations they didn’t feel like they were meeting?

ICCPUD Webinar Series About Preventing Underage Drinking–September

There’s an on-going webinar series provided by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD) that may be of great value to people who are working to reduce underage drinking and the related harms on campus.

Community Coalitions Working Collaboratively Across Secondary and Postsecondary Education to Address Underage Drinking (September 18, 2013, 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT)

Check it out if you do community coalition work! You can register here.

If you have requests or suggestions for webinars, or want to spread the word about an event that might be of interest please let us know.

MyStudentBody Tips For Incoming Students

Here are a few things that I wanted to share with new students who are visiting MyStudentBody due to a first-year student requirement. If you are an administrator who’d like to share these with your students, please feel free to borrow any and all of them, or just share this post!

1. It’s a good idea to use your school email address as your username. The main reason for this is to make sure it’s easy for your school to “know”  who you are when they are checking to see if you had completed the course. Also, if you use an outside email provider (e.g., your parents’ cable company, Gmail, Hotmail, et cetera), then it’s less likely any messages we try to send you (like password assistance or completion certificates) will get through.

2. We ask for a portion of the student’s Social Security number for account confirmation purposes. If a student doesn’t have an SSN (for example, an international student), or doesn’t want to share it, they can choose any similar number they can remember easily. No-one is cross-checking these with your school record. It is only used for password retrieval in the event that you forget your password.

3. New students only have to take the Essentials course (not the Student Conduct course). Here’s a hint: If the first questions are about “alcohol offenses” and you have never gotten in trouble for drinking or having alcohol at college, then you are taking the wrong course! You only need to take the modules that appear under the orange bar that is labeled Essentials.

4. It really is confidential. We can’t and won’t share identifying information about a student in connection with any health behavior reporting. The only time we ever identify a student is when we let the school know you have registered for the site, or to update them about student course progress.

5. The follow-up isn’t the same as the course. Students at some schools will get an email a few weeks after they complete the course, asking them to do a follow-up survey. It’s JUST a survey, not a whole course. Taking it will help your school understand more about how students change once they come to school.

6. If students need technical help, we are ready to assist. Students, parents, faculty, and administrators who are using the MyStudentBody site can either fill out our support form and/or contact our technical support email address techsupportATmystudentbody.com (just replace the AT with an @). Typically, technical support cases are handled during the regular work-week, so don’t panic if you submit a case on Saturday or Sunday and don’t hear back right away.

7. If students have questions the site doesn’t answer, there are a lot of people on campus who are glad to help and will keep it confidential, too. Campus resources are usually listed on our site in a variety of places, but you can also find help by going directly to your school’s site, or looking at a service like ULifeline.

8. You don’t need to send us a completion certificate– we know you did it! Sometimes schools will want people to send them in to a specific address, but you really don’t have to send them to us, too.

I hope these are helpful! Let me know if there are other tips I should include in future posts!

Online resources for health promotion and alcohol abuse prevention

Summer is often the time when new students are greeted with new programs that are intended to help serve their needs. Increasing numbers of people are seeking college degrees, and with that comes both increasing levels of enrollment in commuter programs, and increased usage of bricks and mortar facilities on campus. In order to make sure that all students are fairly served, schools are looking for opportunities to offer more services and resources online, ranging from health information to pre-counseling prior to visits to practitioners.

MyStudentBody is one way to meet some of those needs, since it is available to students and parents that subscribe 24/7/365, but there are other options online that can also help students maintain and improve their health and wellness. I’d be very interested in hearing about some of your favorite resources, but I thought I’d share some of mine first. Today, I’ll focus on alcohol and substance use, but I also have some favorite go-to sites for information about primary prevention of sexual violence, body image, sexual health, mental health, and nutrition that I’ll post about soon.

College Drinking: Changing the Culture is a great starting place for someone who wants to learn about a lot of different approaches to reducing problems with drinking on campus. They provide materials for parents, students, and even college presidents and campus leaders, as well as information related to high school drinking prevention.

The American College Health Association (ACHA)‘s Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs/Substance Abuse portal is another great resource to check out. There’s a link to get you up to speed on their ATOD Coalition, as well as information about the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) and various ACHA-authored pamphlets that might be of interest to your students.

If you have a peer education group (or are thinking of starting one), then BACCHUS is a great resource to consider for both peer training materials and general pamphlets and outreach materials. They also sponsor regional and national conferences for peer educators, which can help motivate and inspire your peer educators to new heights.

I’d love to know what you think of these sites, or if you have other suggestions!

GREAT campus-made video with college men speaking out about sexual assault

I was skimming through the Student Health Services listserve archives, and I came across this video that was created by the University of Arizona.

Overall, I like the concept A LOT, and I think the guys who appeared in it are pretty brave (especially knowing what some of the YouTube comments were going to be). A relatively minor quibble is that I wish they hadn’t spent most of the last portion of it saying that sexual assault makes men “look bad”– but I am glad that a good bit of screentime included men reacting with disgust and appropriately-expressed anger towards other men who rape.

If you’ve made a video like this, I’d love to see it. Send me a link!