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What to Expect Month by Month

Parents & Families

What to Expect

While each student is different, we have discovered that first-year students commonly face similar challenges during specific times of the academic year. We hope the following general, monthly list* of some typical hurdles will help you comprehend what your son/daughter may go through during his/her first year at the University. While we have organized these issues into specific months, they can occur at any time.

*Note: the list was written from the perspective of a student entering Concordia University Irvine in the fall. There will be some fluctuation for students who enroll in January.

First Semester Questions for Parents


Students move in, meet their roommates, and set up their room/living space. Many will spend their first days on campus attending our fall orientation, WOW. During move-in, students may not want you to linger as they meet new people and get settled in.

Advice for Parents and Families

Ask them what Concordia orientation events they attended. Did they have fun? What did they learn?

What is a PAL Team? A PAL Team is led by at least one Peer Advising Leader (PAL) who is a returning student. PALs serve as the first peer resource for new students and will host a variety of engaging and meaningful events during Week of Welcome. Each PAL Team consists of 25-35 first-year students. Freshman PAL Teams will transition to INT 100: Freshman Seminar Breakout Sessions where PALs become co-facilitators. PAL Teams will continue to interact with each other throughout the fall semester by going to on or off-campus social gatherings organized by the PALs.

Each PAL Team is identified by a theme. PAL Teams are designed to help first-year students make critical connections with each other as well as to the campus and community. It contributes to their positive transition to Concordia University Irvine.


Students attend their first classes and begin navigating the campus and the Irvine community. They may also be faced with choices about alcohol, attend their first college athletic game, and start regularly eating cafeteria meals. They may be feeling lonely, isolated, and/or excited about meeting new friends. Questions about their identity may start to arise as they assess where and/or if they fit in.

Advice for Parents and Families

You may miss your student, but you are not alone; so do their siblings, pets, and other friends! Ask about their classes, their friends, and any opportunities for involvement. Research states involvement in college enhances a student’s college experience. Encourage your student to get involved on campus or seek out their PAL(s) to help connect them with their peers if they are unsure if they fit in.


Students may take their first exams and write their first papers. Roommate conflicts may arise, and students may face their first round of financial challenges (entertainment, credit card, gas). Big events include Fall Fest, Midnight Madness, Halloween, Thanksgiving, midterms, and enrolling for spring classes. Students will begin preparing for and enrolling in their next semester classes.

Advice for Parents and Families

Talk about study skills, time management, and all the great campus resources that are available to your student. Break periods are approaching quickly—how will these change things in the house? Ask about study time, workload, and involvement in campus organizations/activities.

December & Winter Break

Students take final exams, finish up term papers, present group projects, and say goodbye to new friends for the semester. They may also be feeling anxiety about first-semester grades.

Advice for Parents and Families

A care package would be great around this time. Discuss plans for winter break: vacation, job, classes.

Winter Break

Students may return home and spend time with high school friends. They may be asking themselves, "To work or not to work?". Give them some time to readjust to being at home as they may have grown in many aspects since they left for college.

Advice for Parents and Families

Think about how the rules are going to change over break for your student and the whole family. If your student is contemplating transferring to another school, inquire his/her reasons, and offer possible strategies on how your student can connect with Concordia. Contact the Office of First-Year Experience regarding your student’s concerns so we can reach out to your student.


Welcome back! Students review the past semester and make changes - maybe they get more involved on campus or join a group. A new semester schedule presents new challenges.

Advice for Parents and Families

This is a good time to review or revise budgets based on a semester’s worth of experience. Also, ask what changes might need to occur to ensure academic success. The house is empty again — it’s a roller coaster ride! You might feel some anxiety about your student’s grades.


Students may begin thinking about spring break plans (including who is going to pay for it). Additionally, they are hopefully making time to study, and if they haven’t already, begin initiating plans for living arrangements next year.

Advice for Parents and Families

Inquire about taxes and the FAFSA, and if you haven’t already, discuss with your student the plans for living arrangements next year.


Spring break comes and goes and students start looking forward to the summer, all during another set of midterms. Students will think about what classes they want and need to take next year, as they will be enrolling for summer and/or fall classes, and some may still be asking “What IS my major?” Your student may be deciding to transfer or withdraw from Concordia.

Advice for Parents and Families

With a year under your student’s belt, this is a good time to check in about any changes that should be made for their success academically. Encourage your student to take advantage of the Academic Advising Office and the Center for Career & Vocation to discuss majors that suit their interests.

If your student wishes to transfer, inquire about the reasons, and discuss possible solutions to see if there are specific strategies your student can use to succeed at Concordia. Is it primarily because your student is homesick? Has he/she put the effort into connecting with Concordia? Contact the Office of First-Year Experience regarding your student’s possible concerns so that the University can work with your student.


Many students will miss their new college friends and some will return home to watch old high school friends graduate. Some may feel pressure to make money for next year. How are they going to stay in touch with friends? What needs to be packed up and brought home and what can be donated?

Advice for Parents and Families

If your student is returning home, discuss expectations regarding rules and responsibilities for the summer as well as expectations for earning money/saving for the upcoming year.

Congratulations to you and your student for a great first year!

The 2nd Year

Students typically return to campus for their second year with a renewed sense of purpose and direction, a clearer understanding of what is expected of them, and enhanced time management and study capabilities. However, some second-year students become overconfident, and if they are not careful can find themselves in academic difficulty.

After your son/daughter's first year, encourage him/her to set and adhere to meaningful goals and objectives, to continue practicing effective time management and study skills, and to maintain contact with his/her academic advisor and professors as a way to work through conflicts and concerns before they get out of hand and become difficult to manage.

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