Doc Seidman Says…..
….As high school students across the country begin receiving their college acceptance notices, they are brimming with enthusiasm and optimism. And why not? The transition from high school to college is an exciting time. It is a time to begin a new life, make new friends, and welcome new experiences. As the chill of winter turns into the warmth of spring, it almost feels as if life begins anew.
Unfortunately, there is a harsh reality about the college journey. Statistics say that not even six out of ten college students complete their degree in six years. The percent is even lower for a first-generation student, or someone from a lower income family, or from Hispanic or African American origin. In some cases, the odds of completing are as low as 35%. As harsh as those numbers can seem, they are important to know. Students need to be aware that successfully completing the college experience can be an uphill climb. When they get to college, they need to take steps to make sure they are among the group that succeeds.
Here are five important tips for success:
- Know that everyone has a setback along the way
One of the big reasons why first-generation students (those who are the first in their families to go to college) struggle is the lack of support they often receive from their family when there is a setback. Almost every student has a setback or two, or three during the first year in college. Most commonly, this involves an academic issue of some sort. Whether it is failing a test, forgetting to turn in an assignment, or underperforming in a class, know that this is a typical experience for many students. Family members lacking college experience do not always realize this. They may discourage continuing and encourage the student to return home. Students experiencing a setback should instead pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and fodder on. Setbacks and failures are common and should be viewed as something to learn from.
- Find a smart friend
To avoid, or at the very least minimize having an academic setback, students should make friends with someone smarter than they are. College is a perfect place to make new friends, many of whom may turn out to be lifelong friends. Choose friends carefully. That person who always seems on the verge of failing out might be a lot of fun, but they probably can’t help with difficult chemistry homework. Find someone who will. Friends don’t let friends drop out of college.
- Join something
In an earlier blog post, I discuss the importance of joining a club or organization while at college. (Join the Band). Joining something is not only a way to be immersed in the campus culture, but a great way to make new friends and stay involved with the campus. Involvement is good. Good out-of-the-class experiences are not only important, they can be fun. Having fun while at college puts students on a solid path to graduating.
- Take an on-campus job
The Department of Education states that 78% of college students work while at college. Having a job while attending college is pretty much a necessity for most students. If a student must work, they are best served by finding an on-campus job. This could be either working for the school or an outside organization (Starbucks, for example) that has a presence on campus. This, too, keeps students engaged with the campus community. Driving to another town for a job reduces the connection with school and increases the chances of dropping classes, taking a reduced course load, not completing on time, or not completing at all. Stay on campus to work.
- Keep applying for scholarships
No surprise to many, but not having the financial resources to stay in school is a big reason while students do not complete. Under-resourced students often give it a try, but come sophomore or junior year, they realize the financial burden of going to school is too much. Scholarships can help. Colleges will point to scholarships that are governed by the school, but understand that there are millions of dollars available in private scholarships. Students should take the time and effort to find these scholarships, fill out the applications, and write the essays. This can be well worth it. Not only can scholarships provide the resources to stay in school, but they can be more productive than having a second or third part time job. A $500 scholarship that takes someone ten hours to complete the application equates to a part time job paying $50 an hour. That’s good money! The essay shouldn’t be a problem. If you are reading this, you are a blogger. That means you enjoy writing. Take the time and write that application. It could be the difference between being in the 60% that graduates in a timely manner, or the 40% that does not.