Sixty-five percent of full-time college freshman are employed in addition to attending school.
Student Attitudes toward Academics:
Regardless of levels of preparedness, freshman tends to be highly confident in their abilities, often rating themselves as “above average” in virtually all academic areas.
Thirty percent of college freshman are undeclared and/or are unsure of their major and career plans. Another 25-30% will change majors within the first year of study. According to research, 50% of today’s college students will not graduate with the first major they declared.
The lack of focus associated with the senior year (senioritis), will sometimes make for a difficult transition to college life. It’s not uncommon for freshman to have one, sometimes two “bad” semesters while they figure out high school behaviors don’t necessarily work at the college level.
Sixty percent of all undergraduates express the belief that the chief benefit of acquiring a college education is to increase one’s earning power (show me the $$).
First Year Student Behaviors:
65.1% self-report arriving late to class(es) frequently or occasionally.
Almost half turn in course assignments that do not reflect their best work; and approximately one-third skip class(es) “occasionally”.
Less than a third actively seeks or utilizes campus services, develop effective study habits, or manage their time effectively.
January - February:
1. Are you going to all of your classes?
“95% of success is showing up”. - Woody Allen
Skipping classes can adversely affect your student’s academic performance.
2. Are you devoting adequate time to your studies?
Rule of Thumb: At a minimum, students should study 2 x (# of enrolled cr. hrs) i.e., 2 x 12 crs. = 24 hrs of study per week.
3. Are you keeping up with your class assignments?
Expect the unexpected...students get sick, their computers crash. Starting early, staying on top of assignments, and submitting assignments on or ahead of time keep students from succumbing to a vicious game of “catch-up”.
4. If the semester ended today, would your grades reflect your best effort or would you be on “freshman warning”?
Students should be encouraged to meet with their faculty or advisor at the first hint of a problem or difficulty with a class. Having a discussion with the right person(s) about support services and a course of action is often the difference between success and failure.
5. Do you know the deadline date for withdrawing from a class(es), or when advance registration for the next semester starts?
www.fau.edu/registrar/acadcal.php will link you to the current academic calendar. Encourage your student to download and post a copy of the calendar.
6. Do you need a tutor for any of your classes?
Tutoring is not just for students having difficulty in class(es). Successful students use tutoring to excel in their classes.
Tutoring is available through the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS) Students should also be encouraged to speak with an advisor (email@example.com) or check with the CLASS office for information on Student Support Services available on campus.
7. Have you met with an academic advisor?
Advisors are a fountain of knowledge when it comes to degree requirements, academic policies/procedures and campus resources. Students are required to meet with their advisor at least once during the semester.
8. Do you know where to find your professors outside of class?
Professors will generally list their campus location and scheduled office hours in the course syllabus. This is to encourage students to meet with them when they have questions/concerns that are best addressed outside of class.
9. Are you making an effort to get involved on campus?
There are over 150 student clubs and organizations on campus. Check out Student Affairs & Enrollment Management (http://www.fau.edu/student/) for a list of campus organizations and upcoming events.
10. Have you checked your FAU e-mail account lately?
All students are given an e-mail account upon being admitted to the University. Important announcements pertaining to University policies, procedures and events will only be posted to students’ “MYfau” e-mail accounts. Announcements may include deadline, withdrawal and registration dates, student support services workshops and special events i.e., Career Day, upcoming sporting events, and general informational reminders to keep students informed.
As a parent, you are dealing with the same uncharted territory that your son or daughter is trying to navigate as they begin their college career. You will experience their joys and pains, their excitement and anxiety. You may experience it secondhand but it will be nonetheless challenging and emotional. Your goal in this journey is twofold- to help your son/daughter become a successful, independent and autonomous student and to keep your sanity at the same time! The following guidelines will help you make the journey a little easier- for your student and for you.
Lesson 1: Providing Communication and Being Supportive
Take extra time to communicate support and encouragement as feedback is especially important for your student.
Give support and encouragement through letters, cards, emails or care packages. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get a response back but know that your thoughtfulness makes a difference.
Ask Questions but not too many. Questions should communicate that you are interested but at the same time are not trying to interfere. Allow space for your child to set the agenda for some of your conversations. If he or she needs help or support, the subject is more likely to come up if you aren’t inquiring pointedly about what time he or she came in last night.
Ask open-ended questions and remember that the goal is to keep communication open.
Be a sounding board rather than a critic. This keeps the door open for both good and bad news.
Good listening is a form of art- interrupting, finishing your student’s sentences and firing off questions does not encourage ongoing dialogue.
Initially, you and your student may feel it necessary to communicate regularly. As the semester progresses, the calls can diminish and may be a sign of the student’s increased autonomy as they become more familiar and comfortable with their surroundings.
Lesson 2: Dealing with crisis and problems
Remind your child that it is ok not to have all the answers all the time.
Remind them that there are people at FAU who can help and encourage them to seek out help.
Listen, listen, listen. Listening is a part of communication. Being a good sounding board and objective listener may be just what your child needs.
Expect highs and lows. Often when troubles become too much for a freshman, the first place they call, turn or write is home. So while you may hear about roommate issues and midterm stress, know that there are also new friends and “A” papers that you may not always hear about. Don’t be surprised if the “I want to come home” is followed the next day by “my roommate and I went to the movies last night and had the best time!”
Don’t overreact to those first frantic phone calls. Listen carefully and try to determine best how to address your child’s need at the moment.
Brainstorm options and a possible course of action with your child as problems arise. Generating choices with your child conveys that you care and also puts the responsibility on him/her to follow up.
Help break down a larger problem into smaller more manageable parts. This will help your child feel more in control of the situation and less overwhelmed.
Lesson 3: Dealing with change
Your student will change (either drastically within the first months or slowly over for years – or somewhere in between). It is natural, inevitable and it can be inspiring and beautiful. It can also make you a wreck.
Make sure that your student knows that change is exciting but it can also be stressful.
Don’t let it worry you that the same person planning her life can’t do her laundry.
Remember a student calendar may run from 7 am - 2 am. Don’t expect them to keep the same hours that they did at home.
Recognize that part of why we send our sons and daughters to college is for them to grow and change.
Be prepared to let them determine their own future, even when its not the one you had in mind for them.
Take comfort in knowing that the formation of identity, independence and intimacy are as much a part of college as algebra and literature.
The first year of college is trying for many students. New responsibilities and expectations can be overwhelming. As a parent, be aware that your son or daughter is going through a transition to college life and anticipate that they may hit a few bumps along the road. The transition from high school to college-level learning can be and often is more challenging than most students realize. Some adapt quickly and others take longer to find what works for them. There are some common behaviors that successful students display. As a parent, you can help your child succeed by recognizing and encouraging your student to incorporate these keys to success into their freshman year.
Attending every class and getting to know the professor
Academics in universities run at a much faster pace than in high school. Besides learning the material presented in class students also receive vital information from professors that will help them on tests. This is one of the reasons why it is vital to attend every class. Professors do not have the time nor do they take responsibility for making sure that a student is in class every week. Many times professors will never take attendance. It is the student’s responsibility to attend class and also to seek out the professor during posted office hours. This provides the student the opportunity to ask questions that are best answered outside of class. Meeting with the professor can show initiative on the part of the student and set him or her apart from the blur of the classroom.
Becoming familiar with the undergraduate catalog and academic calendar
Many policies that directly affect students are listed in the catalog. Taking the time to read and be familiar with these policies can help students avoid the consequences of not following or not knowing about a particular policy or procedure. Undergraduate catalogs are handed out at orientation and should be kept at hand to refer to as necessary.
In college, professors expect students to be prepared. It is the student’s responsibility to keep up with assignments, class group meetings, changes in the syllabus, etc. Academic planners are available for free to every student. They should take advantage of this! Or they may prefer to buy an organizer, PDA or wall calendar to keep track of everything. Parents can role model balancing a full schedule by discussing with their child how they manage time effectively at work and in their role as a parent.
Learning good time management
Your student may find themselves trying to do too many things at once and as a result of doing them poorly. Examining priorities and developing a schedule that allows a balance of academic, social and personal time can be essential to first-year success. Suggest that your student uses his/her planner to map out how they spend their time every day. Include eating, sleeping, studying, commuting and socializing time. Usually, this helps students realize that they don’t always have time to accomplish everything they need to and must make some changes in their schedule to accommodate their needs.
Getting to know and seeking the support of an academic advisor
Advisors do more than just help students register for classes. UAS is available to help students navigate through their freshman year. If your student calls home and is concerned about academics, or just has some questions, encourage them to take ownership of their education and seek out the support or advice of an advisor.
Getting involved on campus
Successful students are involved in their university and on campus. It actually helps them manage their time better and feel more connected. Suggest your student attends at least one campus event or considers joining a student organization, intramural sports or a sorority or fraternity to meet new people and feel more connected. Don’t ask your student if they are “homesick”. The power of suggestion is a dangerous thing and with the hustle and bustle of the first few weeks of school students may be distracted, escaping the feelings of homesickness until well-meaning parents remind them.
Learning how to effectively read, take notes and study
In high school, students were given all the information they needed. In college, it is a student’s job to collect, interpret and learn the material. Readings, notes and study techniques, if done correctly, will help students to ace exams. These ideas are presented in the Freshman course, SLS 1503, Learning Strategies and Human Development, and can also be found through the UAS website.
Taking time in exploring a major
College is time for students to really discover who they are and what they want to be. This is a process and may take some exploration and experience. Don’t be alarmed if your student changes their mind about their major, most students typically do. Encourage them to do their homework in researching possible careers so that they make an informed decision about what major is right for them. UAS and the Career Development Center offer guides and resources to help students find the major that is right for them.
Academic Year (at FAU): The academic year is divided into three semesters; fall, spring, and summer. The fall (Aug.-Dec.) and spring (Jan. - May) semesters are approximately 16 weeks in duration. The summer semester consists of two 6 week semesters: summer Term 1 (May - June) & Term 2 ( June - August), and a 12 week semester (summer Term 3) that overlap both the Term 1 & Term 2 semesters.
Associate Degree: This degree may be an associate degree in arts or an associate degree in science (AA or AS). An associate degree is a two-year degree. Many associate degree programs are offered at community colleges and at technical schools, but many large universities also offer such programs. Earning an associate degree does not necessarily mean a student is halfway to earning a bachelor’s degree. Some states have agreements that require state colleges and universities to accept all classes satisfactorily completed toward an associate degree and to count those credits toward a bachelor’s degree. This is not true in all states. (NOTE: FAU awards the AA degree only)
Advance Placement (AP credits): These are courses or exams taken by students, while in high school, that may qualify them to earn college credits. How they are interpreted varies from institution to institution. Students should check with the Office of Admissions or an academic advisor when transferring AP credits.
Baccalaureate degree: The baccalaureate degree, more commonly called the bachelor’s degree, is a college degree granted in a specific field of study. Although it is generally designed as a four-year degree, it can be completed in as few as three or as many as six or more years. This degree prepares students for entry-level careers in numerous fields.
Catalog: The catalog serves as an official college document, and is generally viewed as a “contract” between the student and institution. It outlines the mission and infrastructure of the University and includes information on degree requirements, curriculum, faculty and administration and campus resources.
CLEP: Stands for College Level Examination Program, and is a series of tests students may take to demonstrate proficiency in various college subjects. Students who pass a CLEP test with appropriate scores can earn college credit. CLEP tests are usually administered through the university testing office. Information about CLEP tests can be obtained through the testing office or from an academic advisor.
Intellectual Foundations Program curriculum: A series of courses that are required of all degree-seeking students, regardless of the major.
Co-requisite: Is a class, lab, or discussion component that is taken, usually in conjunction, with another class. Registration for the course and co-requisite generally requires two separate transactions, however, both courses are needed to fulfill the course requirements. A co-requisite is designed to complement a course and to help students better understand the course material i.e., BSC1005 w/lab – Life Science.
Credit Hours: A credit hour is equated to the number of “contact hours” a student will spend in class. Most classes are 3 credit hours meaning a student will attend or participate in class for three hours per week. Science, foreign language, and some math courses that require a lab are worth 4-5 credit hours. This formula may vary during the summer terms.
Distance learning: A distance learning course is generally taught via computer and requires internet access. Class assignments, exams, discussions etc., all take place online. The instructor and students typically do not meet in a classroom environment although some courses may require that students come to campus for exam days.
Elective: An elective is a course that a student chooses to take outside of his or her major field of study. An elective can be in an area of interest to the student or in an area that complements the student’s major. Electives can also be used to work towards a minor or certificate.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA): Also known as the Buckley Amendment, ensures a student’s right to privacy as it pertains to “parental notification” and releasing information without the student’s authorized consent. Questions about FERPA should be directed to the University Attorney or the Registrar.
Living Learning Communities (LLCs): The FAU Learning Communities consist of a combination of courses totaling 12-14 credit hours and cover a wide range of disciplines. The majority of the FLC courses fulfill the Core Curriculum. In addition to the Core, students in the learning communities take SLS 1503- Learning Strategies and Human Development, a course designed to ease a student’s transition into the college environment. Student participants in the LLCs share the same major, and to maximize the “cohort like” experience, enrollment is capped at twenty-five.
Freshman Warning: Freshmen, who in their first semester of enrollment (including summer), do not earn a minimum GPA of 2.0 are placed on “Freshman Warning”. This status does not prohibit students from re-enrolling. Its purpose is to make students aware they are in academic jeopardy and provides them with an opportunity to reconcile their academic situation before it can deteriorate further.
Gordon Rule: Is a policy native to the state of Florida. It is a legislative mandate requiring all students earning a degree from “public” (and some private) universities and community colleges to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in the areas of mathematics and writing. Courses in the curriculum, identified as Gordon Rule, require students to earn a grade of “C” or higher in order for the course to be counted toward the student’s degree. Questions about Gordon Rule should be addressed to an academic advisor.
GPA: The grade point average, GPA, is the numerical grading system used by most colleges in the United States. A student’s GPA determines his or her eligibility for continued enrollment, financial aid, and honors. Most colleges operate under a 4.0 system: an A is worth 4 quality points, a B 3 points, a C 2 points a D 1 point, and an F 0 points. To calculate a GPA, the number of quality points earned is multiplied by the number of credit hours carried by each course. Add this total and divide by the total number of hours carried to get the GPA.
Major: Refers to the student’s field of specialization in college. As much as 30 percent of the courses needed for graduation will fall into this category. Major courses usually carry higher level course numbers. An advisor can explain requirements for the major.
Minor: A student’s minor usually comprises six to eight courses in a specific field that complements the student’s major area of study.
MyFAU: MyFAU is the University’s online student information and registration system. Through MyFAU students can register for classes, check on financial aid awards, request transcript, view grades etc. To access MyFAU students will need to provide a student ID (referred to as Z-number) and PIN number.
Pass/Fail Option: On occasion, students will be given the option of electing to take a course for pass/fail as opposed to earning a letter grade. Students choosing this option are required to complete all work for a course, the same as any other student in the class. However, upon completing the course the student will see the letter “P” reflected on their grade report/transcript. This indicates the student has earned passing credit for the course, but there is no numerical calculation for the GPA. If the student fails the course, a grade of “F” will appear on the grade report/transcript and the “F” is numerically calculated into the students GPA as a zero.
Pre-requisite: A pre-requisite is a course that is required prior to a student being eligible to take another course, i.e., ENC 1101- College Writing I is a pre-requisite for WOH 2012 - History of Civilization I. A pre-requisite provides a foundation or knowledge base upon which students need to build in order to be prepared for the next class.
Summer Attendance Requirement: Students entering the University as First-Time-In-College students (freshmen) or transfer students with less than 60 earned credits must take summer classes (for a total of 9 credit hours) over the course of one or more years. The policy pertains to students attending a State of Florida Public University and the credit hours must be earned at one of the eleven public state institutions.
Syllabus: A document, usually one or more pages, distributed to students on the first day of class. It generally encompasses the professor’s expectations and class requirements. The syllabus acts as a course outline, telling students what and when assignments are due, textbook readings, exam schedules, and so on. Also included may be the professor’s grading system, attendance policy, and a brief description of the course and what will be covered.
Transient Student Form: Students wishing to “cross enroll” at another institution while simultaneously remaining an FAU student must complete a “transient student form”. This form can be completed online via the University Advising Services website at www.fau.edu/uas and must be submitted to and approved by an academic advisor prior to the student cross-enrolling.
Being a college student can be stressful. While as a parent it is your goal for your child to be autonomous and to learn how to handle difficulties on their own, sometimes they can’t always do it alone. FAU provides many resources to help assist students to be the best student and the best person that they can be. The following resources offer services to students and can be accessed through their website or office location.
Career Center This office has a wealth of information, inventories, and career counselors to help discover which major is right for your student and what kind of job it will help them land. (www.fau.edu/cdc, SU 220)
Owls Care Health Promotion Provides information, support, and resources on wellness including, nutrition and healthy eating, exercise, stress management, self-esteem, substance abuse, sexual health and HIV (www.shs.fau.edu/today, Student Health Services Building, 222)
Center can help students experiencing personal concerns or possible learning difficulties by calling 561-297-3540 to make an appointment.
Student Health Services also houses a dental clinic for cleanings, x-rays, and other minor procedures. (www.shs.fau.edu, Student Health Services Building, SS-8W, Above Breezeway Cafeteria)
The Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS) offers free tutoring. (http://www.fau.edu/class/tutoring/tutor_listings.php, SU 80)
The Student Employment Office can help find on or off-campus employers looking for assistance. (SU 233), contact them at 561-297-3680 or 561-297-3521
Students interested in joining one of the fraternities or sororities on campus to enhance their college experience can contact the Dean of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management office which advises the Fraternity & Sorority Life office by calling 561-297-1245 or visiting their website (/greeklife) for more information.
The Office of
International Programs (OIP) provides service and support to students who wish to participate in study tours, as well as courses and other activities in other countries. For information for undergraduate and graduate students, contact the OIP at 561-297-3282, fax 561-297-2850 or by visiting the website: www.fau.edu/goabroad.
The Intramural Sports program includes leagues, tournaments and special events for men and women as well as co-ed divisions throughout the academic year. For more information about Campus Recreation programs and services, call 561-297-3795 or visit www.fau.edu/campusrec.
Center can help students in need of assistance with writing papers. Counselors work with the students in all stages of the writing process to help develop their paper. (/UCEW/)
The Dean of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management Office is open to any student needing assistance in matters of general welfare and/or information about Florida Atlantic University. The office of the Dean of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management provides assistance or refers you to other student and academic services that can further help you. Student Services Building room 226 or (561)297-3542.
The FAU site index, located on the FAU homepage, can be used to find the webpage for any FAU offices. The index provides links to any resource at FAU.
The following is a list of publications that are available if you are seeking additional information about the college transition:
Don’t’ Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money by Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller
When children leave for college, many parents feel uncertain about their roles. This book emphasizes the importance of being a mentor, helping parents to celebrate their student’s independence while still providing love and support. The authors offer valuable insight into the minds of the students and provide parents with simple suggestions on a wide range of topics including financial matters, academic concerns, and social adjustment.
Helping Your First Year College Student Succeed by Richard H. Mullendore and Cathie Hatch of the National Orientation Director’s Association
This booklet focuses on “letting go” as a long-term process that needs to be completed. Feelings parents and students will likely experience during the first year of college are explored and suggestions are offered for resolution of issues. Parents are encouraged to “renegotiate” their relationship with their student as an adult.
Letting Go: A Parents Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger
Parents are lead through the period of transition that their students experience between the junior year of high school and college graduation. It distinguishes normal developmental stages from problems that may require parental or professional intervention. A new resource guide is included for useful websites, campus technology, and organizations that can lend assistance.
Empty Nest . . .Full Heart: the Journey from Home to College by Andrea VanSteenhouse, Ph.D.
Featuring an emphasis on the freshman experience, this publication is a lighthearted, yet savvy look at the turbulent time between a student’s last year in high school and that first year in college. The book’s general, compassionate scope makes it lively, humorous, and emotional.
When Kids Go to College: A Parents Guide to Relationships by Barbara M. Newman and Philip Newman
This is a practical guide covering the topics of identity formation, values developed, exploration, social relationships, sexuality, alcohol and drug abuse, relationships, residence hall life, personal freedom, depression, and college bureaucracy.
Parent’s Guide to College Life: 181 Straight Answers on Everything You Can Expect Over the Next Four Years by Robin Raskin
Gives parents straight answers to tough questions like:
Parents as Partners: Tips on What You Can Do to Support Your First Year Student
(PowerPoint presented at Freshman Orientation)