I Hope Your Semester Is Off to a Good Start
By Marcy Kraus, dean of freshmen and director of the College Center for Advising Services
It's midterm time at the University of Rochester and for many students, it's also a time of increased anxiety, decreased sleep, and potentially disappointing news. For freshmen, it's important to reinforce the message that these first tests are learning experiences; successful students will use the feedback they receive to evaluate their study strategies and proactively take steps to address their difficulties. High school students often study for all of their courses in the same way. In college, students soon learn that they need to study for ECO 108 differently than they study for BIO 110 or PSY 101.
Some key points to remember:
- Successful students aren't afraid to ask questions and seek help. Students having difficulties should first consult with their professor and/or their course TA's to discuss their concerns
- Organizing a study group with classmates, or joining an already-made study group through the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) can support and reinforce classroom learning
- Individual tutoring available through the College Center for Advising Services (CCAS) is often helpful; students can decide, in discussion with their tutor, how often the tutoring sessions will occur and CCAS provides "tutoring tips" to help students get off to a good start
- Working with a study skills counselor in CETL to identify more effective study strategies including when, where and how often to study can be very helpful
- Many academic departments have resources available for extra help
- Parents and family members can support their students by sending positive notes and texts, funny cards and care packages and helping their students develop some perspective during this often stressful time. (I imagine that some of us who are parents can share our own stories about overcoming difficulties in college)
- Encourage your student to talk with someone EARLY—a professor, coach, resident advisor, pre-major adviser, or an adviser in CCAS so that they can take proactive steps to address any concerns
- Avoid "doomsday" predictions for the future; students who experience difficulties early on often make up for these lower grades in later semesters
- If course difficulties persist, it can be helpful for students to determine whether withdrawing from a course or selecting the S/F grading option makes sense. Consult with an adviser in CCAS or a pre-major adviser for specific information
First year students often believe they can fix problems on their own and sometimes they can. Regardless, speaking to an adviser in CCAS or a pre-major adviser can help students develop a realistic plan for future academic growth. Action is the first step; success will usually follow.