By Scott Lutostanski
There’s no worse feeling than a college student coming home over winter break with bad grades. It’s a horrible feeling for the student and the parents. It creates anxiety, anger, and stress. And it puts a lot more pressure on the student to do well in the second semester of their freshman year. There are a few simple steps that each student can take to make sure that they start college off strong.
Create Structure- Students need to take a look at their schedule, their extracurriculars, and the other obligations they have throughout the week. The challenge of college is taking a mostly unstructured week and creating the schedule that will allow for students to not only complete all their assignments, academic tasks, and studying, but also to give them free time and school/life balance. Creating this structure in the first week of the semester will help students get off to a fast start.
Identify All Learning Tasks- For college freshman, school looks a lot different than it did in high school. All of a sudden they have less assignments, more spread out tests, and much more of the learning takes place outside of the classroom. This last item is what trips up a lot of college freshmen. Once they get to campus, it’s really important that they identify the learning tasks that need to take place each week: assigned readings, lecture notes, textbook reading, etc. These are tasks that students aren’t used to completing in high school. They’re also difficult to maintain because they’re not tied to any direct deadline or points. However, these tasks need to be completed each week so that students can thrive in college.
Get out of the dorm- A student’s dorm serves as their bedroom, closet, bathroom, family room, and hang out room. It can’t also be their office. Students need to find different places to work on campus. They should start by identifying 3-5 places on campus that they can go to get work done. Libraries, empty classrooms, Starbucks, dorm study rooms, or anywhere else can work. It’s important that students have a designated work space that will provide them with an optimal environment as well as a location where they have one sole purpose: get schoolwork done.
These are 3 simple steps that all college freshmen can take to make sure that they are successful their very first semester on campus. When these are overlooked, problems are more likely to happen.
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