During the month of March, colleges and public schools (Pre-K-12) have been involved in a much-needed academic break or recess referred to as Spring Break. This break may be anywhere from a week to two weeks, but it is a much sought out and anticipated event. It can be more time to sleep late and play with video games for some high schoolers, or planned fun in the sun in a tropical location laden with college students for those in college. The mantra is: ‘It’s on.’ While a few students may take this time to catch up on some academic endeavors, for the majority of participants, anything resembling a book is off limits and taboo. Many parents plan out of town family outings with their children or use this time to bond by engaging in family orientated activities in the city.
Literally speaking, Spring Break is a time for students (especially college students) to exhale. Many college students are unapologetic in their quest to let their hair down and take a stroll on the wild side. No one wants to rain on their parade, because we older adults can remember when we were young and dumb. I only hope that most of the young college students of today are smarter than we were. Even with the legal age for drinking being 21 in most states, young college students often find a way to partake of alcoholic beverages. We all know that excessive drinking (binging) is popular and encouraged in many venues college students frequent . Often this practice leads to promiscuous behaviors that may result in rapes, pregnancies, STDs, car accidents, fights, and even death. Although young people may feel getting extremely intoxicated is fun , in reality for many it is the beginning of a nightmare with far reaching horrific consequences.
Spring Break is a time when many parents are nervous and may spend many sleepless nights praying and hoping their children are safe and with responsible friends. As parents, we want our children to have fun—but to also make responsible choices that will keep them out of harm’s way. Many parents ask themselves, “Will my child be around a lot of drinking and sexual activity? Probably so, but this is where some of your lectures and discussions may play out. Many of our children will adhere to the voice in their heads warning them of the consequences of their choices. However for the many parents on pins and needles, I have found that many students choosing to drink have a designated driver or a sober rational person who keeps everything in check and makes sure the group makes it back to their destinations unscathed. Perhaps the stories of individuals coming up missing during vacations or trips with friends have made an indelible mark in the minds of some of our children.
I encourage parents to support their college children in their decisions to venture out with responsible friends—but to also have a discussion prior to Spring Break offering them advice about using common sense in their decisions. It is always good for parents to know who their children’s friends are, especially the ones who are traveling companions. Have your child call you daily while he or she is on Spring Break and let them know you are not trying to be nosey, but just want to know they are safe and alright. Our children need to know the world is not always a caring and receptive place and it pays to be careful.
My advice to groups of students excited about partaking in the festivities of Spring Break is to seriously talk out your expectations and plans with your traveling companions and make sure that you have each other’s back. Don’t travel with someone who is chronically irresponsible and you know can’t be trusted. You don’t need that kind of liability when you are out of town to have good safe fun. Have fun during Spring Break but be safe. College students: Enjoy yourselves and come back relaxed, refreshed, and ready to continue your academic endeavors.