3 Students We Forget During the Holidays

3 Students We Forget During the Holidays

Ugly Sweater

The holidays are here! Whether you celebrate with strings of lights and tinsel in every corner of your house, proudly brandishing your ugly Christmas sweater, or … avoid all stores with more than 10 cars in the parking lot, throwing your eggnog latte at the Chipmunk version of “Christmas Don’t be Late”, we all share something in common. There is both relief and stress associated with this time of year. In financial aid offices all over Colorado, months that used to be a time of low traffic and decreased stress have been replaced with the roller coaster of Early FAFSA and, “Wait, what year is it?”

Needless to say, it can be hard to stay focused. When you are interacting with students, remember that there are some students we tend to forget:

Independent Minors

These are students who are under the age of 24, but have been deemed independent by your school. Oftentimes, the circumstances surrounding their situation are unique and painfully isolating. The holidays are a scary time of year for these students as dorms close and they do not have a safe place to go. Feelings of loneliness and abandonment may be triggered, increasing the incidence of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Out-of-State Students

Students who come from other states are perceived as less needy due to the resources needed to pay an increased tuition rate. However, some students give up travelling home for breaks in order to pursue their college dream. Although they may not feel the same kind of abandonment as other students during the holidays, social isolation can play a major role in seasonal depression for out-of-state students.

Non-Christian Students

College campuses should be safe environments that practice diversity and inclusion in all activities. Yes, this includes visits to the Financial Aid Office. Try to represent all religious faiths in your holiday decor and refrain from holiday specific greetings.

Tips for Helping Students

  1. Let students know about dialing “211” from any phone or downloading the 211 mobile app. This resource is offered through Mile High United Way and provides a statewide database of community support programs. This includes housing, temporary shelter, and food assistance. 211 also has a website that students can access. The links at the bottom of the page also provide county specific websites and resources.
  2. Find resources in your area that sponsor families during the holidays. Some programs include:
  3. Reach out to your campus and community religious organizations to understand the needs of all students during the holidays. It is important to check with your college administration as well to know about policies surrounding holiday decorations as this differs from institution to institution.
  4. Connect students with mental health resources, both on your campus and in the community. Check with your Dean of Students or other college administration about protocol on how to get help for a student experiencing emotional distress! It is best to serve only as a liaison in getting a student the help they need.

Most importantly, take care of yourself during this stressful time. Sit back, turn on your holiday music playlist, and remember to wear an apron over that ugly sweater. I can’t ensure your safety from flying eggnog lattes when the Chipmunks come on.

Happy Holidays!

Resources:
https://211colorado.communityos.org/cms/home
http://www.nctsn.org/resources/public-awareness/holiday-stress
https://www.thefamilytree.org/en/give-help/377
https://www.voacolorado.org/news_and_events/adoptafamily

Natascha Ambrose
Associate Director
University of Northern Colorado
CAFAA President-Elect

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