Hello there! It’s your favorite professor! I noticed you signed up for my composition class and that you are a freshman. Welcome! I want you to be successful! I want you to like school! I want you to thirst for that fresh water from the Fountain of Learning!
But–I have my worries. I’ve seen it before. Sadly, many of you (as many as a third of beginning students) will not make it past this semester.Why do some students thrive in the freedom college presents and others simply sink? I have a few theories I want to share with you. Here are 5 students who will probably not survive their first semester of college.
- Students who don’t understand financial aid. This is a huge problem, especially among first generation college students. The FAFSA (the federal financial aid form) is long and complicated, and it’s difficult the first couple of times. The solution: ask for assistance from your financial aid office, or better yet, from someone who has filled out this hellish thing. It’s really important to get it right the first time. Best case scenario if you make a mistake: you have to submit a correction and then wait approximately 100 years for the government to correct it. When you’re waiting to pay for classes, every day counts. Don’t fill it out half-heartedly.
- Students who are unprepared for the amount of study time needed. Many students simply do not set aside enough time to complete assignments and to study. College is NOT high school–most students can’t simply absorb the information in one sitting. Good students know that each class needs prep time, study time, and homework time. It’s a lot of time. This is just how it is.
- Students who are late or miss too much class and get behind. For the first time, Mama isn’t there to wake you up–it’s all up to you.Sometimes, that bed is so comfortable, so inviting–and before you know it, class time is over. Missing even one hour of valuable instruction can be enough to cause you to be behind for weeks–even the whole semester. I tell my students to think of college as a JOB. Not just any job, but a job they care about. You wouldn’t be late or miss work because in the real world, you would be fired and out the door.
- Students who don’t understand social graces. Many students who wouldn’t dream of being rude to their pastor or auntie don’t think twice about sending a rude email or texting through class. Manners matter, and impressing your professor with being polite and respectful might mean a letter of recommendation later on when you’re competing for a job, internship or scholarship. People matter.
- Students who don’t talk to peers or the professor. As social media explodes, our world is becoming increasingly isolated. Many students don’t want to leave their comfort zone and talk to their fellow students. They don’t want to open up to their professor when they are struggling with the material. Instead, they suffer in silence and quietly give up. They stop attending and fail or drop. It’s sad! I force my students to talk the first day of class. I make them introduce one fellow student, and I have them exhange contact information with their neighbor. I pair them up frequently so they get used to one another. Studies show that successful students network. They work together. They form study groups.
I’m really glad you’re in my class. Put your phone away and look me in the eye. Let me help you get used to academic writing, surviving in college, and how to interact with others. Welcome to college! Let’s do this!