Pressures of College
The pressures of kids growing up are well known. They grow increasingly more intense as they get older. First they must get into the right preschool, then the perfect elementary school, which continues through middle and high school. These pressures don't end there, that's just the beginning. Parents are molding children to eventually get into the right college. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Parents simply want the best for their children - what's wrong with that? Nothing. But are we pressuring children too much?
I remember my freshman year. It was rather daunting. I had grown up in a close knit family. I had a steady boyfriend (who eventually became my husband) and didn't know anyone when I moved to my college town. Unfortunately this mixture of the unknown created anxieties and loneliness that stuck around a while. I was homesick and not integrating into college life as smoothly as the movies would like you to think. Overall my college experience was great but the transition was rough.
Students are sometimes thrown into the college world without much guidance. I found, after I graduated, that my school had much more to offer in regards to fostering student success than I actual took advantage of. When you go to a school with 50,000 students it can be hard to know what all is available.
I feel that students have this incorrect sense that college is just going to be a continuation of high school. This is a big misconception. The number one thing I tell students that I mentor is that freshman year is going to be tough. I don't want to sugar coat it but also I don't want to freak them (or their parents) out too much. Although when I say that it is going to be tough usually the adults in the audience are all nodding their heads in agreement. Perfection is not an option. Nobody can attain perfection and students shouldn't strive for this. Instead students should look at their college career and especially their freshman year as rewarding but challenging. Studying is what gets you the diploma. Yes, students should take advantage of college life socially but ultimately they are there to study and graduate.
I'll be honest I failed a class and had to retake it. I felt like quite a failure. I had grown up with perfect grades in high school, just the right amount of extra curricular activities and leadership positions and now I had failed a class. I was a bit distraught. I mean it was a math class and math is the devil but I felt that I had ultimately let myself down. I had to learn to strive for my best and not perfection. I retook the class and did fine and moved on. I mentor students daily about their struggles in classes. We discuss their situation and try to find a solution and the resources to help. I wish I had done the same when I was in school - especially that first year.
A few things that I really want kids to realize is:
1.) Go to class - really. It's not going to do you any good to skip classes and think that you'll be able to catch up. Go to class, take notes, study.
2.) Take advantage of tutoring on campus. Most campuses have an abundance of resources which usually includes free tutoring for freshman classes. This is because freshman classes are hard and students struggle. They are called weed out classes for a reason.
3.) Introduce yourself to your professors. This is really important. If your professors know you and are aware that you are trying hard and working towards successfully completing their class they are usually more apt to help. It is better to start that relationship early than when you may be struggling and have never stepped foot in their office.
4.) Ask for help when you need it. Find someone you feel comfortable talking to. Roommate. Friend. Professor. Advisor. Most campuses have a wide variety of resources depending on the students' needs. If you need help, there is someone out there to listen.