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College Preparedness: Recovering from the PandemicSuzanne Shaffer
Few things make me happier than the fresh start of a new academic year. Autumn leaves crackling under my leather boots, the faint sound of the college band playing at a football game...
And this fall, after a year of pandemic restrictions on campus, there's even more to look forward to.
The excitement inspired me to reach out to several of my former students to ask, “What advice would you give incoming freshmen?” Here is what they had to say.
Sadie, a high school athlete, was used to getting to school at 6 a.m. for swim practice and heading to her first class by 7:50 a.m. “I thought 8 a.m. classes in college would be easy, but I was wrong. An early morning schedule didn’t work for me when I got to college.”
While your student may thrive in 8 a.m. college classes, Sadie’s point is well taken: Just because it worked in high school doesn’t mean it will in college. Early classes are not the only thing that may not work when your student gets to college — here are a few more tips from my former students:
If there was a common piece of advice among all the students I interviewed, it was the suggestion to get a planner or calendar and use it regularly. Some students used a personal planner that they wrote in every day; others used a large wall calendar to plot their tasks and due dates.
Claire, who confessed that she was a poor high school student, said scheduling homework and study sessions made a huge difference in her attitude and lowered her stress. “I felt in control of my time. Using a calendar made it easier for me to stay on track — and my grades were better because of it.”
Other strategies for managing time and tasks:
Danny, the treasurer of his fraternity, shared that joining organizations and finding ways to develop leadership skills allowed him to open up and meet new people. All the students I interviewed emphasized the importance of making friends, finding groups to hang out with, and getting involved with organizations on campus.
Like Danny, many mentioned joining a sorority or fraternity, which provides opportunities to do all three of these things. But Greek life isn't the only way to get connected. Encourage your student to do any and all of these:
Hannah came to college with a plan to major in nursing, but then she took an anthropology class. “It blew my mind. I didn’t realize that I could study something so interesting! I talked to my advisor about changing my major to anthropology.”
Not every student will have an intellectual epiphany their first year, but every student should explore all that their college has to offer. This includes courses, events and guest speakers, and special experiences such as internships, study abroad and community service projects.
Here are some other things your student can do to make the most of their first year.