Five Ways to Support your College Student During a Remote Finals Week

Friday, April 24, 2020

By Sara Keenan, learning strategies coordinator, Aylward-Dunn Learning Center


College students, especially online learners, are more effective if their study space is organized and conducive to work.

  • If you can, set up a workstation for your student separate from your living area where they can go to concentrate.  If you have more than one student at home, try to find each one a separate space.
  • Help your student get all the supplies they will need and be sure they are nearby (textbooks, writing utensils, notebooks, calculator, computer and charger, etc.).
  • If your Wi-Fi or internet access is limited, use internet time strategically as a family.  Ask other family members to refrain from streaming TV or games during the times your student will need to attend live classes or upload projects or exams.


The switch to online learning may have left your student with a lot of unstructured time to fill.  Your student will find that they are most effective when they stick to a schedule. 

Create a daily “family schedule” to support and encourage good time management. Include work/study times, meals, family activities, quiet hours (see below).
Encourage your student to create and stick to a personal study schedule with specific times for studying, completing assignments, or attending virtual classes.
Allow your student to schedule quiet times when the rest of the family will refrain from watching TV, playing games, or participating in loud/distracting activities. 
You might need to work with your college student and be flexible if they want to study late into the night or keep different hours than the rest of the family.


Students are more effective when they study in moderate increments and take short breaks every hour or two.  Encourage your student to take breaks throughout the day but also help them stay accountable for returning to study time!   

  • Invite your college student to spend a few minutes with you for a coffee break a quick snack.  Or sit down to watch an episode of their favorite binge-worthy TV show for a longer break (just be sure to quit after one!)
  • Encourage your student to exercise:  They could go for family walks, ride bikes, shoot some hoops with younger siblings, or take an online yoga class.  Participate with them or let them go alone if they prefer to clear their head.
  • Urge your student to eat healthy meals and get enough sleep. 


Remember those care packages you mailed to your student?  You can still provide that kind of comfort and sustenance at home!  

  • Put together a basket of their favorite snacks and put it in their study area. 
  • Keep the fridge stocked with healthy snacks and beverages. 
  • Make your student a cup of coffee to keep them going through late-night study hours.
  • A nice soothing candle or cozy blanket may keep your student comfortable as they spend long hours studying.
  • Be a sounding board for your student if they need to vent, share their successes, or brainstorm ideas.  Be supportive and ask them what you can do to make their finals week easier for them.


Whether it’s their second finals week or their eighth, your student is capable of getting through finals week successfully, even in these unusual times.  Be there for them, support them, but ultimately what they might need is a little extra space.

  • Let your student dictate how you can best support them and respect that.  Some students may want a “study buddy” to quiz them on vocabulary or read through their research paper.  Others may prefer a more hands-off approach. 
  • Understand that finals week can be a stressful time for your students and give them a little leeway.  This might include letting them take a week off from chores, bringing their dinner to their bedroom so they can eat while they study, or allowing them to skip a family Zoom session with the grandparents. 
  • Make sure your student knows that you are there for them, but don’t hover.  They’ve got this!