It’s getting on towards late November — and our students are dreaming of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, as well as the Christmas break that will follow not long after.
While time away from campus — and the stress and worries of their studies — seems so close, we all know that they’re not out of the woods quite yet.
In fact, the next few weeks will be critical for them, because temptation will be to give in to the fatigue and overwhelming levels of stress that so often accompany this time of the year. The temptation will be to coast towards the finish line, and do the bare minimum, in order to make it to the other side.
And while this might feel like the path of least resistance, we know that students will not like how they feel with the results.
So what can we do?
Well, I think we’re poised and uniquely positioned to be able to come alongside and assist our students, such that they cross the finish line of their fall term in full stride — and not stumbling and bumbling and struggling to believe that it’s even possible.
Here are four things that our students need from us that might just be what helps them to buckle down and finish well.
They need our grace. When the pressure is high, most of our students struggle to know how to deal with the pressure. There may be a number of areas where they begin to feel that they’re letting others (or themselves down). They will need to be on the receiving end of some grace. Sure, there may be conversations that need to happen regarding any given situation. But we need to be discerning about the best time and place for such things. Offering grace is a great place to start with our overwhelmed students — especially because they are unlikely to receive it anywhere else.
They need our words of encouragement. Our students need grace, but they also need to know that we are for them — and their success. They need to know that we’re in their corner, and not just in ways that relate to and/or benefit our ministries. Our students need to know that we care about them — period. And as their fall term begins to increase in intensity and complexity as it speeds towards its inevitable end, we need to figure out how we can best come along side them and cheer them on towards their finish line.
They need to be reminded of the goals they had set for themselves back at the outset of the fall term. As the term grows long and students grow weary, it can be all to easy for some of our students to forget the goals they had set for themselves back at the term’s beginning. We owe it to these students to revisit some of those goals with them — and help them think through what’s still possible in the final weeks of this term, as well as consider what might need to be carried over to the spring term, and what might need to be reconsidered all together.
Finally, they need to be challenged to finish well. Our students need to be reminded of the importance and significance of finishing well. The painful challenges they are experiencing right now are temporary — they will all be over soon (or at least those that related to their current academic load I should say) . They need to be reminded that while they cannot undo the things that have already taken place this term, they do still have some control over how things finish. As great as it is to start well, it’s how they finish that they will ultimately remember. Challenge them to focus in on those things that are going to help them finish their fall term in a way that will allow them to head home for the extended Christmas break with their head held high.
Yes, if we can find ways to sprinkle our conversations and interactions with students with these four things over the course of the next few weeks, I think our students will be blessed (in a wide variety of ways) as a result.