Thriving in college has received an increased level of focus as the current generation of college students confront a wide array of complex challenges and opportunities. It can be overwhelming for today’s college student to manage the multiple, sometimes competing responsibilities and commitments they face. As parents, this can present a daunting challenge to our relationships with our students. How we support students so they can thrive is a question we are taking to heart at Luther and certainly one that, as a parent of a college-bound high school senior, I embrace.
Luther’s strategic plan, Inspired. Empowered. Engaged, states in part: “The Luther community is committed to helping each student develop the habits of mind and heart as well as the skills and perspective needed to thrive and serve in an ever-changing world.” We will focus our collective energies to realize this vision of our desired future and also strive to ensure the present best facilitates students’ capacity to thrive on campus.
Thriving is an important goal accompanied by a great question: How? Many books have been published on this topic, including Ariana Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time. In the fall of 2016, Huffington launched Thrive Global, which seeks to “end the stress and burnout epidemic by offering companies and individuals sustainable, science-based solutions to enhance well-being, performance, and purpose, and create a healthier relationship with technology” (Thrive Global, 2018).
I invite you to explore Thrive Global and sign up for its newsletter.The website is a clear manifestation of Huffington’s passion to help individuals and organizations thrive, and I encourage you to explore the Thrive on Campus special section.
Luther’s own Nena Amundson Lifetime Wellness mission “fosters a culture of wellness where students and employees can thrive personally, academically and professionally through campus partnerships by creating opportunities and environments that maximize health and wellbeing in a diverse community.” In our current environment, this mission is evermore important. In collaboration with other integral departments and programs such as counseling service, health service, and case management, we look forward to sharing new and updated initiatives that will contribute to student wellbeing.
As we head into the last month of the semester, remember that it can be a time when students struggle with the concept of thriving. What can you do to offer them perspective? Perhaps an insight from a recent article on Thrive Global may be of some assistance. While the focus of the cited research was on the transition to college, I would submit that it can be helpful anytime during a student’s college career. According to the article (Ha, 2018):
Open and respectful communication, which involves support, validation, and active listening, is the key to healthy relationships. Feeling pressured by anyone, but especially by parents, enhanced the negative mood in our student participants. Pressure is tricky because it is closely related to support. Parents might think they are encouraging their child, but students might misinterpret the message and experience it as pressure.
With the predictable stress students experience near the end of a semester, it could be helpful to consider how our support is received by them. It may serve us well to consider reframing what we intend to convey to our student. Hopefully, this reframing can reduce any undue distress that might occur even when we are trying to offer our best.
Thriving is not a condition or state that results from a simple equation of something + something else = thriving. Rather, it requires planning, patience, perspective, and perseverance- often on a daily basis. This is true for not only for students but for parents as well.
About Thrive Global (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2018, from thriveglobal.com/about/.
Ha, T. (November 2, 2018). Thrive Global. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from thriveglobal.com/stories/the-surprising-factor-that-helps-students-better-transition-to-college/.
Inspired. Empowered. Engaged. Luther College Strategic Plan 2018–23 [PDF]. May 5, 2018.