Student Life

Keys to a well-rounded freshman year

By Priscilla Childress

When it comes to what the first year of college should look like, you and your student may have very different visions.

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High School Parent | College Parent

Possibly you picture him in the library 24/7, his head buried in a book (and he’s studying, not sleeping, behind there!). Your student, meanwhile, might assume that freshman year will be a whirl of continuous campus activities and parties, with classes being his “down time.”

Balance is the goal. Of course we want our students to enjoy college, and we understand that being social and getting involved is crucial to their success and happiness. But academics need to come first. You can help your students find that happy medium right off the bat by encouraging them to:

Work on time management skills.

Many schools have a planner students can pick up, free of charge, in the student center (or the campus bookstore may sell one). There are time-management and “to-do list” apps for smartphones. Suggest your student get a planner or download an app and add important dates from his class syllabi as a starting point for managing his schedule.

story-icon-bar-convo-3With just a little thought and planning, your student will find that freshman year can be a successful blend of the academic and social aspects of collegiate life — laying the groundwork for a rewarding college experience.

Help him spot those open hours between classes, meals, and sports that he might not think of as prime homework time. By using them wisely, he can really take pressure off his evenings.

Find more time management tips here.

Join clubs selectively.

Advise your student to look into the organizations and teams that really spark his interest and choose two or three to start. He doesn’t have to join in every activity on campus. Just a few will help him meet people, learn more about what the school has to offer, and open his eyes to different cultures and experiences.

When he settles into a routine, he’ll know if he has time to take on the extra responsibility of a leadership position within an organization. If he tries to do too much too soon, he risks overload.

Take advantage of professors’ office hours.

Getting to know their professors is an excellent way for students to adjust to college classroom culture and to the school as a whole. Talking to a professor outside of class can make it easier to be an active participant during class, and it bolsters a student’s self-confidence, too.

Your student’s professors are a resource not only for academic help but also for career guidance and possible leads to internships and research opportunities. At large universities where students in lecture courses have less contact with professors, they can seek out teaching and research assistants.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our College Parents’ Facebook group.

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