College Success 101: What to Do When The Crisis Hits
In this article, Dr. David Wyld, who has been a business professor for over two decades, shares tips and tricks that college students should know in order to maximize your grade in any course. This article is actually part of a series, written to provide students with an overview of what it takes to succeed in college classes, whether the setting is a “real” classroom or a virtual one. In this article, Professor Wyld provides his insights into how students should handle the unexpected times when "life" intervenes and impacts their classes.
Accidents, illnesses, deaths of loved ones (be they friends or relations), family emergencies – they happen to all of us in our lives. While we celebrate the fun times in our families and our social lives, we must also recognize that for every great time, there will also be a low time. Life has a funny way of balancing these out most of the time. And the older we get – and the more complicated and busy our lives become – the times of challenge tend to start outweighing the times of joy. Not to be a downer, but it is simply a fact of getting older.
And for college students, the transition from teenager to young adult brings with it more instances in which the event will be one of challenge rather than celebration. When speaking of non-traditionals, their ages – be they 30ish or 50ish – makes them more vulnerable to life intruding on their classes. And thus, for students of all ages, the question is simple: how should they plan for the eventuality that a crisis will hit, and likely hit more than once, during their four, five, six… years in college? It is – unfortunately, but realistically – a simple matter of when, not if, your personal life will intersect with your collegiate life. Thus, you – as a responsible student – should have not a 50-point plan for responding to emergencies, but rather, at least a mindset as to how you will react if you encounter a health, family, legal, etc. emergency – both for yourself and if close family members or friends are involved.
The Most Important Thing – Be Honest
My biggest advice to students as to how to handle any emergency situation is quite simple and can be captured in two elegant words: Be honest! As professors, we all know students who have a personal crisis or a family emergency hit at what one could arguably be both the best – and worst – time of the semester. Behind the scenes (and I do hate to admit this), but I’ve even been in groups of my colleagues where there have been jokes bandied about the fact that unquestionably, finals week is a supremely dangerous time for grandmothers. In fact, with the regularity that grandmas (not grandpas) get critically ill and/or die during exam weeks (finals primarily, but even noticeably at midterm time), one would go so far as to say that grandparents of college students should flat stay inside during those two weeks of their grandchildren’s school calendars.
Yet, all kidding aside, these emergencies DO happen. The death, critical illness or injury, or other serious personal crisis involving either a relative or a close friend can be one of the most stressful, emotionally- trying, and even life-altering events in anyone’s life – including our own. And young people, many of whom – fortunately for them – have not had to deal with such events previously – and thus have no reservoir of experience as to how to do so, often find themselves unprepared and unable to effectively deal with the reality that hits them. Events such as a health emergency or accident may be especially difficult to deal with when a young college student finds themselves away from home – and their Mom and/or Dad – for the first time.