Freshman Jitters; First Year Resources
Adjusting to a new experience, environment and group of individuals can give even the most confident individuals the jitters and butterflies, not to mention a new college freshman. For a new college student, the thought of being separated from the comfort of one’s home and family, being responsible for oneself, living with a fresh new face(s) and navigating uncharted waters can cause heighten anxieties and minor stresses.
Students need time to get into a routine, learn their syllabuses, attend their first sporting event, join a club and begin to experience life on a college campus. Once that happens, college turns from something new to the start of one of the most exciting time in a young adult’s life.
But for the small few, acclimating can take longer and be a struggle. College level academic demands, social interaction with new peers and the sense of being part of new community can be stressful. The thought of seeking out resources and help may also be a new experience for some students, not to mention the anxiety of calling home to unaware and excited parent or siblings.
Student who find themselves in this situation can easily become part of the 20%. A small, but extremely vulnerable group of students, generally new Freshman, who without the proper guidance and support could find themselves experiencing heart ache and regret. Prolonged struggles and delayed use of resources can in a student’s loss of interest and eventually separation from college.
Why we think as parents, educators and administrators that it is a normal thing to take a student out of a familiar surrounding (home) and place them in a strange place (college campus) and for it to work like a charm is beyond me. As the parent of four, eyes wide open to the world students, I thought, wow this is amazing. Get them in, give them a hug, palm their hand with money and get on the road home, everything will be wonderful. When in reality each student needs time to adjust and the continued engagement and support from home. Creating a two-way communication channel is an essential part of the transition of a new college Freshman and their overall college success. Knowing how and when to connect (texting, phone, email), what is fair game to talk about and the signals to listen for when a student is silently saying “I need help” is the key to helping a student through their first year. Parents and students should have an honest, open and non-judgmental conversation prior to drop off to set up how the two-way channel will workl!
Students are generally not programmed to seek out help when they struggle or are in crisis. As parents and vital support, it is critical to be a strong listener for warning signs in a student’s behavior, health and well being. Shifts in one’s mood, communication, eating habits, satisfaction with academic performance, personal sense of importance can all be signs that something is up. Signs that may not be easy to initially detect but ones that might come through by listening to a student.
Being a good parent listener can promote questions and inquiries that will open a student up to deeper explanations as to what might be a concern. Whether it is a social relationship, grades, dietary, fitting in or being away, listening and gentle probing is step one to getting ahead of a problem. Of course if it appears to be an issue that is placing one in physical and/or deep emotion trauma, swift intervention maybe required.
College campus offer a wide range of resources to kick start a solution and resolve the situation before it grows into a bigger concern. Getting ahead of issues is critical. As a parent if you know your student is in need of assistance first encourage them to seek out help but if the concern persists, do not hesitate to become part of the solution.
- Academic Support – Learning Centers, Writing Centers, Faculty, Peer-to-Peer Tutoring are some of the common resources to ensure academic success,
- Academic Affairs – Advisers and staff are available to assist with monitoring degree requirements, course selection and ensuring that a student is on track to graduate within the required time frame.
- Student Life – residence life (dorms and dining), health services, spiritual ministry and counseling services are available to ensure a student has a strong quality of life while on campus.
- Career Services – the launching pad to internships & part-time work with business partners and resources to alumni to score the first job upon graduation.
- Public Safety – ride sharing, navigating the campus late at night, bullying, harassment and other personal safety needs.
- Student Services – the general location for questions related to financial aid, tuition bills, scholarships and other financial matters.
Being One’s Own Advocate
Students and parent should not shy away from investigating and utilizing the resources offered on a college campus. Taking the first step, at the onset of any and all issues and concerns will keep a student on the target to achieving their goal of receiving a college degree.
Campus Check-In Program
A feature offered through Get College Going is our Campus Check-In Program. Designed to assist student and parents weather the first year of college, we provide an independent third party communication channel when needed. We too will listen for clues and warning signs typically affecting a new college student. When and where needed, we will guide students to resources and help students to become their own problem solver! The program runs through the entire first year at strategic times in a student’s life. The Campus Check-In Program is a partnership program with both students and parents participating. Hence, an “opted in” understanding between the student and parent is key. As a supportive bridge, the Campus Check-In Program works to ensure the continued bond between a student and parent and the ongoing successful experience of attending one’s college of choice.