How to get a student ready before they leave for college

The summer leading up to a student’s freshman year can be used to prepare a student for that first semester. There are a lot of college students who wait until they’re on campus to “start their semester.” In reality, the work can, and should, start before a student even steps foot on campus. During the summer, students can take a few small steps to put them on the path to success for their first semester.

Most students will get their course schedule at some point during the summer. Whether it is in June or mid-August, students should create their course schedule in a Google calendar. This calendar can help them with a few things. First, they can put all classes, times, and locations into their calendar. This will help them stay on top of their classes, manage their time, and can even help them GPS if they need help navigating campus the first couple weeks.

In addition to plotting out their weekly course schedule, students should review their syllabi. These will usually be posted online in the final weeks of summer. Students should review each syllabus, become familiar with the class, and figure out all the “bigger stuff” for the semester. What is “bigger stuff?” Projects, papers, tests, or quizzes. The Google calendar will help students manage the bigger tasks they have to work on. There is a lot more work that needs to go into a college test than a high school test. By having these events logged in a calendar and looking ahead, students will be able to plan and work ahead, and they will have a better chance at putting together quality work. 

Students should also figure out their “routine homework.” Does math class require homework to be turned in every Monday, Wednesday, Friday? Are there pre- and post-labs due each week in Chemistry? Is there a Spanish quiz due every Sunday at midnight? Students need to figure out all their deadlines for the semester and then plot these out on their Google calendar. They should be notated in a color that will stand out (bright red is usually best), and they should create multiple phone notifications for themselves hours, if not days, in advance. This will ensure that no weekly or biweekly assignments will be missed. College students should submit 100% of their assignments on time.

The last thing students can do is purchase their books early. This will also depend on when their syllabi are released. It doesn’t hurt to get these early and have a chance to preview them while looking at the syllabus. It will allow students to start to understand how much book content is covered in a week and start to build structure to their weekly schedule. If a student has to read 40 pages each week in a class, they can build this right into their schedule and hit the ground running from the first day of classes.

All these tasks are quick and easy, but they will make a big difference for the EF-challenged student. In some cases, a student may not figure out the flow of their semester and the large assignments in classes until it is too late. These steps should be part of the pre-college, summer routine for all students.

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