Our new students and upperclassmen are just a few weeks away from starting school. It’s an exciting time, a time of new beginnings. There are countless opportunities to be involved in and out of the classroom – sometimes so many options that students have trouble choosing. But this is perhaps the only time in students’ lives that they will be as free as they are with their time and their obligations, and we want them to make the most of their college experience.
While thinking about this idea of how to make the most out of college, I did a little looking on the internet. There are many web sites that give you tips about college life, but I liked this one because its suggestions are “based on a 10-year study of which factors were most likely to improve students’ learning and overall happiness. For this study, researchers interviewed faculty from 24 institutions and 1600 students about the quality of teaching and advising the academic choices the students had made and how they spent their spare time.”
They include tips like: get to know at least one faculty member, study in groups, and take a mix of courses. This list is from a book called Making the Most of College by Professor Richard J. Light (Harvard University Press), and the top tips are online in this summary. Not surprisingly, these are not wild, revolutionary ideas – they are more common sense. But sometimes it’s good to be reminded of them.
This article caught my eye because of the title of the author’s book – Everybody is Stupid Except You (brilliant!) It talks about the value of asking for help when you need it. Could be academic help, personal help – but nonetheless, there are many resources here to assist students if they simply let us know they could use some help.
This is a hard concept for some of our students, because they are so accustomed to doing well on their own, so it can be a shock to the system when they encounter a bit of struggle. You can help here, parents and families, by reinforcing to them that it is a sign of strength to admit you need help, rather than having trouble and persisting in trying to go it alone. There is no merit in encountering a problem and chewing and chewing on it and never changing anything. You have to act differently to get different results.