Sun, Sand and Spring Break Realities

“Hi Mom! Hi Daddy! Guess what? I’m sooooo excited! My roommate’s brother got us a sweet deal on a hotel in Mexico for spring break. It’s super-cheap! Can I go?”

Cancun. Aruba. Jamaica. Daytona Beach. In the midst of a long, cold winter, these warm-weather destinations sound like the perfect cure to the winter blahs, especially to stressed-out college students.


When your student starts talking about spring break, she’ll tell you about her plans to “just chill out” on the beach with friends. She’ll pluck at your heartstrings (and your wallet), telling you warm sand, sunshine, and relaxation are all she wants after studying so hard all year. While she’s selling you on a girl’s getaway that includes a catamaran snorkel cruise and a great rate at an all-inclusive resort, you’ll want to do a little research of your own before supporting this endeavor. You may not be getting the full story.

Unfortunately, the full story is scary—the stuff parental nightmares are made of. A simple Google search reveals videos of fight-filled, booze-filled, chaotic beaches with incoherent girls passed out on the sand. CNN and Fox News Insider sites share story after story of excessive alcohol, drugs, crime, theft, uninhibited sex on the beach…and worse. Another report describes a group of people, nicknamed 100-Milers, who travel miles to spring break destinations with the sole purpose of preying on college students. These predators drug, steal from, and violate students. Does spring break still sound like a good idea for your child?

If you decline to fund a frolic on the beach this spring, let her down gently but firmly. If your reasons are financial, share that reality. College-aged adults need to understand money doesn’t grow on trees. They need to be taught that it’s not prudent to take out a bank loan to pay for a spring break vacation. If your reasons are moral or safety-related, share them as well. When she tearfully reminds you “everybody’s going but me,” you can assure her you only want what’s best for her. Will she like it? Of course not. Will she push back? Absolutely. Once she gives up her crusade and accepts reality, let her know how excited you are for the opportunity to spend some quality time with her. Then, offer some spring break alternatives for her to consider. While none of theses options provide the sun-kissed skin she’s hoping for, they will provide safer, more pocketbook-friendly alternatives to a traditional spring break. No nasty videos, beer bongs or bank loans required.

7 Alternatives to Partying Over Spring Break
1. Stay local
Encourage your student to bring a group of friends home over break. This is a fantastic way for you to get to know the friends in your student’s life. Show them the neat things your community has to offer. Bribe them with home cooking, lots of rest, and 2-ply toilet paper.

2. Volunteer
By volunteering, your student can make a difference and build a resume at the same time. Not sure where to start? Have your student look into area nursing homes, food banks, places of worship, or animal shelters. Serving others can bring perspective and humility to the volunteer—wonderful character qualities that help young adults grow and mature.

3. Get a (summer) job
Applying for summer jobs and internships now, before the rush of applicants, can give your student a leg up on the competition. If the job is a local one, your student could try to schedule a face-to-face interview over spring break.

4. Earn money
Yes, actually work. No job? What about negotiating pay rates for those odd jobs that never seem to get done at home? Muck out the garage. Paint the hallway. Scrub the porch. Rake the lawn. It may be dollars well-spent for you to be able to check a few items off the “honey-do” list and it’s money in the bank for your student.

5. Family time
If your student is one of the lucky ones with grandparents still living, why not plan a visit? What a perfect opportunity for some relaxed family time together. While it may not be the tropical getaway he was hoping for, your child will one day look back and appreciate the gift of time with his grandparents.

6. Research Careers
Suggest your student get a sneak peek on a potential career path by shadowing a professional in a field of interest. Not only will your she observe a-day-in-the-life of a career, she may make professional connections for future referrals or internship opportunities.

7. Self-care
Treat spring break as spa week for students’ souls. After countless cafeteria meals, they can enjoy delicious, healthy meals and take full advantage of quiet spaces to catch up on rest. Students can make time to exercise and practice self-care. They can schedule that past-due dental or eye doctor appointments and hair cuts. They can go back to school refreshed and ready to finish out the year.

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