Tips to Transition to College
By Brigid Godvin, Academic Director, The Student Connection
As parents pack up the car with everything from new sheets to sharp pencils, we want to make sure students take along a few important points to help them make a successful transition to college. We also have a few tips to help parents handle the new academic environment:
1. Get organized, be organized and stay organized. The skill will save you time and aggravation and help you throughout your college career and beyond. Develop a calendar with all due dates and tests for the coming semester. There are new tools that can help, like Evernote or Zotero. Once you have the syllabus for each class, you put in all your work and study obligations and the system will send alerts a few days before things are due. Great way to keep assignments straight, and keep track of class notes, office hours etc. Make your folks jealous, too.
2. College isn’t high school. The teacher isn’t there to help you. They are there to teach. For you to learn, you have to go to class. You must do the homework ahead of time. They assume you have and are teaching based on you already knowing it. Keep in mind the 3:1 ratio. You will need to do about three hours work outside the classroom for every hour in class. Remember, there are no “do-overs” for flunked quizzes and no extensions on deadlines.
3. You have to learn how to manage your time. Einstein observed that time not only acts differently on cosmic speeds, it feels differently while sitting in a movie and in a dentist’s chair. For most freshmen, college represents the first time where there is no one to help provide support and guidance. For many, it’s also the first time without a lot of supervision. You need to find out how to balance getting the work done with having good fun at college.
1. Trust that your student chose the right school and will do well. Act like a navigator and keep focused on what’s ahead, providing a timely – and gentle – reminder ahead of time.
2. Keep abreast of your child’s academic progress. Ideally, your son or daughter will share. But, if not, you will want access to academic records. Privacy laws now require adult-age children to give authorization to parents to see grades and other information.
3. Hands off. Do not contact the teachers or administrators directly, unless it truly is an emergency. This is your child’s college experience and they need to be responsible.
4. Establish a pattern of communication that works for you and your student, whether by phone, text message, or email. Look for pattern irregularities. They will be busier than usual, but if you used to talk daily and it’s been a week since you have heard – reach out to them.
5. Respect their school obligations and don’t schedule important functions, even fun family events or vacations, which force students to choose between family and school.
6. Make sure the college bound are well-versed in the basics of living alone. Students need to know how to do laundry, keep their environment clean (and healthy), and themselves fed. They also need to understand the ramifications (including school rules) of alcohol and drug use on their academic careers and their future lives.