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Take Time to Reflect

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Take Time to Reflect

Well. . . you did it! Another academic year in the books! Congratulations! For some, your student has completed their first year of college, well done. For others, your student is now a college graduate, which I’m sure comes with mixed emotions of joy and maybe some uncertainty.  Regardless of where you are in this process, the summer break can be an excellent time for reflection, for both you and your student.

          So, what is the significance of reflection and how do you do this well? Reflection at its simplest definition is about careful thought.  Reflection gives our brain the permission and the opportunity to pause amidst the chaos of everyday life, to untangle and sort through observations and experiences, and to consider multiple possible interpretations and create meaning. This meaning often leads to learning and this meaning making is crucial to your student’s ongoing growth and development.

          However, many of us do not understand the process of reflection.  We also may not like the process as it requires us to slow down, embrace uncertainty, and take personal responsibility.  This can lead to feelings of discomfort, vulnerability and maybe even defensiveness.  Reflection can be a useful way to validate your unique experience.  It can also help create a space for gratitude. With all this being said, as parents of college students, I want to highly suggest that you encourage your student to engage in this process and even better, to engage in this process of reflection with them.

          Okay, so now you may be wondering- okay I’m ready to give this try, but where do I start?  First, select a reflection process that matches your preferences.  Some like to reflect through writing in a journal while others are more of a verbal processor with others.  You can sit, bike, stand, reflect alone or with someone- whatever works best for you.  Second, schedule a time and commit to keeping it.  No excuses! (And if you avoid your scheduled reflection time, I suggest reflecting on that 😊).  Next, start small.  If an hour of reflection seems too much, try 10 minutes, and then grow it from there.

          Finally, to get you started on this reflection journey, I’d like to leave you with a few suggested prompts that you and your student can talk through together. So here we go:

  • What are you most proud of from the past academic year? Why does this make you proud?
  • What went well this past academic year? What tools, supports, or resources aided in your success?
  • What did not go well this past academic year? What was missing that made this experience challenging or undesirable?
  • What insight did you gain about your own needs for mitigating challenges? Where or how can you fulfill these needs in the future?
  • What did you learn from overcoming challenges? How will you remember what you learned and apply it when a similar issue arises?
  • Who and what helped you to grow this year?
  • How did the Lord show up in your life this year?
  • What experiences are you grateful for? How can you acknowledge or express that gratitude?
  • What are you better at now than you were at the end of the previous academic year? How did this come to be?
  • When did you feel happiest or most at ease this year? How can you experience these moments more frequently?
  • What did you let go of?
  • What was the most important lesson you learned this year?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • How were you kind to yourself?
  • How did you step out of your comfort zone this year?

Okay . . . ready . . . set . . . go . . . reflect! I can’t wait to see what you discover!


-Amy Solman, Director of Health and Counseling Services