Saturday, August 25, 2018

Annual Advice from this year’s sophomores to this year’s matriculating freshmen

Every year I query my alumni advisees about their college experiences. What were highs and lows freshmen year. How did they struggle? When and how did they thrive?

 Here’s the advice I gleaned from last year’s 2017 freshmen for this year’s 2018 freshmen:

1) Don't expect to have your life figured out going into college. 
2) College offers a lot of niche clubs that students should take advantage of early on in order to find an outlet outside of classes to figure out what you like to do and connect with people also trying to figure out their interests. 
3) Remember the names of new people you meet: this goes a long way when trying to make new friends and study partners. Even if you don't think you're going be life-long friends with the person, it's always nice to have someone in class to talk with and learn the material with. 
 4) Spread homework and studying throughout the week, which will give you more free time on the weekends to hang out with friends and get off campus. The workload definitely piles up in college, especially if you’re on on the quarter system (the UCs). 
 5) Make sure to go to classes even if they are webcasted. 
 6) Leave enough time for yourself to relax. 
 7) Try new things—classes, activities, social interactions--whether or not you enjoy them at first. 

--Develop strong relationships with faculty members. Go to office hours; take on projects and research. Cultivate mentors. 
--Take on a sustained academic project whether research, a thesis or a capstone experience senior year.
 --Participate actively in at least one campus organization. Seek leadership opportunities. 
--Regulate your time on social media. Don’t spend too much time alone. 
--Develop communication and “storytelling” skills. It’s important to be able to persuade an audience whether on a job interview or another situation. 
--Take risks both academically and personally. Try new classes and/or fields of interest. Don’t be too focused on career outcomes. 

 Also, check out previous blog posts on the same topic—advice for incoming freshmen.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

College Readiness Redux

I’ve written about “soft” or non-cognitive skills on this blog previously and I’m often emphasizing their importance to my advisees as they are challenged by managing their increasingly complex schedules while completing college applications.  Actually, completing the college application process is a good “test” or practice for adolescents in developing responsibility, time management, resilience and self-advocacy, all skills students need to function independently in college.

Recently, the New York Times published another piece, How to Help a Teenager be College-Ready” on helping your child the skills and qualities needed to live independently and function as a successful student.  It focuses on three areas: self-care, academics and administrative tasks.  Among its recommendations are to allow students to manage their own calendar and deadlines.  I echo this encouragement in asking parents to allow students to make their own appointments with me and follow up on tasks without parental reminders.

It’s a lot about our “letting go” as parents, isn’t it?  Good luck!