The National Center for Education Statistics estimated that 21.8 million students started college in 2013. That number is projected to increase in 2014.
A successful college experience is contingent upon implementing and developing four essential routines. A successful student will have mentally and physically prepared for the home and family separation, will develop a relationship with is or her professors (particularly his or her advisor), will have selected a university that suits his or her needs and aspirations (not necessarily the needs or wants of the parents), and they will engage in the extra curricular activities offered by the school.
Mentally and Physically Prepared for the Home and Family Separation
In 2009, US News stated in “Dropouts Loom Large for Schools”, that 30% of college freshmen drop out of school during or after the first year. Many reasons contribute to that high rate, but some children are simply not prepared to leave home.
A child who is given little to no independence or responsibility while living at home can not be expected to survive and thrive while attending college. In order to graduate from college, the child needs to be properly prepared at attend college.
A child should know how to wash clothes, change oil in a car, budget money, and allocate study time properly. And a child needs to know how to complete her own homework assignments on her own. All of these things should happen prior to the child leaving home or starting college locally. If the child struggles in high school while attempting these tasks, at least the parent can point him in a direction or help him. There will be no backup system once he is away at the university.
Develop a Relationship with Professors and Advisors
A freshmen needs to know his or her teachers. Opportunities for advancement in a field will fall to the people the faculty know. Extra effort is more easily obtained when the teacher knows the student. When it is time for graduation, this bond can be invaluable for professional placement. If you teacher offers extra help sessions be there. Be more than a face, be a name.
I wanted my daughter to follow my footsteps and attend Clemson, but the moment she set foot on the campus of Florida State University, I knew she was home. Not only was she comfortable with the campus, city, and surroundings, but also (and most importantly), the school had a strong curriculum and reputation in her desired field of study.
So often, parents want their children to follow in their steps or attend the college where they wanted to go, but a parent must remember that their child is going to college not them.
If the a freshmen is not attending the school she wants to attend, the odds are much greater that she may be the one in three that US News mentions dropping out.
Try to visit as many schools as you can before you commit. Also peruse sites such as www.studyenglish.com to read the articles on what to consider when selecting a school and how to tell if a school is for you.
Consider cost, curriculum, location, size, and feeling for fit. Feeling for fit is when a student actually feels at home on the campus of the school. A perfect fit is integral to a successful freshmen year as well as the following collegiate years.
Extra Curricular Activities
Studies show that if you give back by volunteering you are a happier person. Colleges abound with social and service clubs and organizations.
You will benefit the club and expand your social circle by joining one. Look around for clubs relative to your major or to your religion. Also consider intramural activities, especially if you were proficient at a sport in high school.
Immersing yourself in the complete college experience will give back endless rewards. You can meet new people, aid a group, make friends, and even make future business contacts. And don’t forget, people who give back are happier people.
Visit the student center for a listing of clubs and organizations. Also make sure to check out the bulletin boards in the halls and around campus for flyers advertising meetings. If you belonged to a national charter club in high school, such as Make a Wish; you may be surprised and thrilled to discover that many of those clubs exist at colleges, as well. If you are busy, there is no time to be homesick.
Getting accepted to and attending college is thrilling. But there is still much to be done after the acceptance to ensure success. To have a successful freshman year, make sure you are emotionally ready to leave home, that you get to know your professors, that you have selected the correct college, and that you are getting the entire college experience through clubs and organizations.