College Student Guide to Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving dinner

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Thanksgiving break, for many college students, is an oasis in the middle of fall semester. It's a chance to return home and recharge. You can take a break from midterms and papers. For a lot of students, it might be their first chance to get some good food and spend time with old friends. Lots of students go home for Thanksgiving, but some stay on campus. Others head to a friend or roommate's house to celebrate the holiday. No matter your situation, though, there are things you can do to make sure you squeeze every last drop out of the long weekend.

Friends, Family, and Relationships

Thanksgiving is nearly always about friends and family. And while every college student has a unique situation when it comes to their nearest and dearest, nearly everyone needs a little love around the holidays. Some families are less supportive than others. If you find being back home stressful, try planning to see friends or a trip to your favorite coffee shop.

For many students, it's the first chance they have to visit with friends from high school. If you had a large circle of friends, getting to see everyone you wanted to see might be hard. After all, the Thanksgiving break is only a few days, and most people will have some family obligations as well. Because of this, it is wise to try to plan group activities where you can spend time with as many of your old friends as possible.

Dealing With Change

If Thanksgiving is the first time you've been home since the start of college, you may have a hard time adjusting to being back. After months of the freedom to come and go as you please, having a curfew again might be hard to swallow. Things around your town have probably changed, too. You may have new interests and hobbies that you didn't have before, which your family may or may not approve of. Dealing with change isn't easy for anyone, including your parents. Try to approach the differences with an open mind. College is about moving from childhood to your adult life and it's a process which is why you still have to follow your parent's rules—but it won't be like that forever. Be patient when your parents start treating you like you're back in high school; they need time to adjust to their child growing up. When you start getting frustrated remind yourself it's just a long weekend, you'll be back at school before you know it.

Dealing With Politics

It's not uncommon for students to return home with new ideas or insight into the politics of the world. If your politics no longer align with your families, it could lead to some unpleasant conversations. Many people attempt to avoid discussing politics during the holiday but if that's not an option, view it as a learning experience. Ask your family members to explain their political beliefs to you. Even if you don't agree, allowing others to feel like they've been heard can ease tensions. It's also easier to explain your beliefs when you have shown that you respect the other person enough to hear what they have to say.

Heading Home

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year, so knowing what to expect can prevent a fun trip home from turning into a travel nightmare. Knowing what to pack when heading home for Thanksgiving is half the battle. The other half is planning your route home.

If you're in charge of purchasing your airline ticket, you'll want to book it at least six weeks in advance. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel days of the year, so you'll want to avoid it if you can. If you have a class scheduled that day, talk to your professor about ways to accommodate your absence so you can leave earlier in the week. Don't worry if you forgot to buy your ticket home; there are ways to find last-minute student travel deals. If you do have to leave on Wednesday, leave early and be prepared to deal with travel delays and crowds.

Staying on Top of Your Academics

For most students, Thanksgiving falls either right before or right after midterms. So just because you're relaxing and hanging out with people over the break doesn't mean you can let your academics slide. While staying on top of your coursework is challenging, it isn't impossible. Thanksgiving is your first real chance to get to learn how to manage homework over a college break. Even if your professors didn't assign you anything over the break, you probably have a larger project or paper that you can work on. Remember, the end of the semester is really only a few weeks away. The time will pass faster than you think and saying you have to study is a great excuse to get out of an awkward conversation with extended family members.

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Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "College Student Guide to Thanksgiving Break." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2023, April 5). College Student Guide to Thanksgiving Break. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "College Student Guide to Thanksgiving Break." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).