Heading off to college can be both exciting and incredibly intimidating for teenagers. Incoming freshmen are leaving behind their support group and sailing off into the unknown — and often it’s the first time they’ve ever truly been on their own.
There are several traits they need in order to make a strong go of it.
Here are three characteristics critical to the success of first-year students.
1.) They need to be realistic. Incoming freshmen are entering a completely new environment. Every aspect of the student’s home life has been replaced — and it takes time to acclimate. Forcing a “toga, toga!”experience (think “Animal House”!) usually backfires; rather, students need to block out older friends’ collegiate tales and create their own realistic expectations.
Many freshmen want to knock out prerequisite courses as quickly as possible — and immerse themselves in what they find most fascinating. They tend to load up their classes, taking 18 credit hours in their first semester. However, they quickly find themselves overwhelmed, without the freedom to explore their new environment.
To mitigate stress, students should ease themselves into college. Taking 12 credit hours their first semester is a good idea. While parents may initially think that their child’s taking the minimum number of credit hours is a waste of money, in the long run this path provides the freedom for their child to successfully acclimate to the new environment.
The competition is much more intense at college. The days of coasting through classes are over. Students need to work for their grades. Even though most professors do not take attendance, missing classes is not an option, or shouldn’t be. Skipping class should make students feel guilty — it is wasting their parents’ money.
Since students are in class for about 12 hours each week, they need to develop a routine to prevent procrastination. A daily schedule that incorporates time for studying, working out, eating, and sleeping is critical.
Freshmen discover they do not know everything. This can be a valuable and very important wake-up call. The key to success is humility. Rather than monopolize conversations with others, freshmen need to listen to others around them. The first year of college provides extraordinary opportunities for each student to broaden perspectives. Students, take advantage of this!
While a student may have been a top athlete in high school, collegiate sports are an entirely different matter. Some students may become obsessed with trying to “walk onto” a varsity team. Making a team is extremely difficult, and if a student achieves this goal, practices can consume a student’s day and devastate her GPA. Rather than sacrifice grades, student athletes should turn toward intramural sports. Intramural leagues are often very competitive and can facilitate connections with others who share the same passions.
2.) They need to be resourceful. Tuition covers more than just classes. Nearly every college has an academic tutoring center. If a freshman winds up struggling in a class, he needs to know free help is available. Students can make daily appointments at the tutoring center to receive help with coursework. Professional tutors as well as older students provide assistance with writing, mathematics and science.
Also, freshmen should take advantage of professors’ office hours. Beyond having their questions answered, students can connect with their professors and learn about unique opportunities. For instance, students may be invited to assist a professor with research or be asked to engage in independent study. Such opportunities can lead to extraordinary connections and strengthen resumes. (go to page 2 to continue reading) [lz_pagination]