By Marcy Kraus, dean of freshmen and director of the College Center for Advising Services
The start of the new academic year is an exhilarating time for those of us who work in academia. Each new class of freshmen brings excitement and optimism: "finally, I'm in college!" Many new students want to try everything. After all, as high school seniors our students participated in a multitude of activities, earned high grades in their classes and managed it all successfully. Why should college be any different?
College is different and while the vast majority of college freshmen will do just fine, it is the rare student who doesn't experience a bump or two in the road during the first year. Many freshmen, in their eagerness to dive into their college experience and get a head start on their academic and career plans (and LIFE), run the risk of taking on too much, too quickly. Some freshmen don’t recognize that the academic habits that got them through high school will not usually be sufficient to manage the rigors of college level coursework. Other freshmen have had limited experience taking responsibility for their daily schedules. Most first year students have never shared a room with another person, much less a stranger. The result? Capable and smart students wish they knew in August, what they now know in May, as it relates to having a successful college experience.
What advice would rising sophomores and juniors give to their pre-frosh selves if they had an opportunity for a "do over?" As the College's dean of freshmen I enjoy asking this question when I have the opportunity to speak to our current students. They have shared much thoughtful wisdom including:
Parents can play an important and supportive role in helping their students understand that college is very different from high school, and that it is far better to take some advice from the "veterans" than to assume that life in college won't be much different from life in high school. New college students will find that there are a multitude of resources available to provide guidance on every topic from picking first semester courses to finding help in math: academic advisers, faculty, resident advisors, the dean of freshmen, and other campus administrators and peers are a few examples of helpful resources and good people to get to know. When your students arrive for Orientation in August, they will be "oriented" to the campus and begin to get to know who these helpful people are. We look forward to the privilege of welcoming your sons and daughters to campus very soon!