Things move pretty quickly when a student gets on campus. There’s the first couple days of class where the syllabi are being handed out, and then things are pretty much in full swing. The work begins and students need to be ready to go and meet the demands of their new academic worlds.
Once the semester begins, the first round of midterms usually starts up the first week of October. This is only about 6 or so weeks into the school year. We have seen many students struggle in this first 6 week stretch that leads into the first round of tests. Sometimes, this can create a grade outlook that is tough to recover from. The point? It’s really important for students to get off to a strong start from day one on campus. Below are three key skills students need to master to get off to a quick start in college.
Time Management- Managing their tasks, time, and deadlines is the most essential skill for immediate college success. This encapsulates a lot of day to day execution: constantly checking class sites, tracking short and long term deadlines, managing obligations and class time, and staying productive throughout the week. We have found that many students struggle with this through the first semester because they have a difficult time adjusting to the new demands of college. Students also need to be able to manage the big and small assignments at the same time. The time management piece is essential for college success. Once students can get this down, they have a big piece to the puzzle.
Academic Learning Tasks- Our term for schoolwork that is not tied to a grade or points. In high school, most students get homework and have to bring it back in a day or two. In college, there are many learning tasks that need to take place on a weekly basis for students to have success: notetaking, textbook reading, reviewing slides, reading articles, etc. These are the tasks that students are not doing in high school and will now have to incorporate into their week in college routine. When students start to understand the work they need to engage with on a weekly basis, they will see their grades go up.
Advocating- So many students avoid getting help at all costs. Some students may be in classes with a few hundred students in them with no opportunity to meet their professor. Others may never speak a word to their TA throughout an entire semester. Students need to advocate for themselves and explore the resources available on campus. This could include teachers, tutors, writing centers, career centers, friends, or online tools. Students often need help learning what these resources are and how they can use them.
The quicker students can master these skills and incorporate them into their weekly plans, the easier their first semester will go. These are typically skills that are new for a lot of college students