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.

Getting organized

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 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 support of an academic advisor  

Advisors do more that 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.   FAAS and the Career Development Center offer guides and resources to help students find the major that is right for them. 

 Last Modified 1/28/15