Tag Archives: #college

Summer Homework: College Lingo

New first year college students – are you ready for the term to begin?! I know a few of you…
• have already started your first year (Summer over, school year is here – crazy!)
• are doing special Summer preparation/transition courses – great idea!
• enrolled in the college’s non-preparatory summer session courses – you are the over achievers!
Some of you are anxiously waiting for the year to begin, and others of you are loving freedom from academics so much, you wish summer would never end!

No matter where you are, in the above sequence, I am checking-in to find out if you have completed a little summer homework. If you attended your college’s orientation, hopefully you know the answers to the following questions:
1. What are the difference between the following types of courses (please define): lecture, discussion, lab and seminar.
2. Which term does your college use, unit or credit, to describe time in class?
3. Which term does your college use, semester or quarter, to describe your academic year?
4. How many units/credits, do you need to pass each semester/quarter, to graduate in four years?

If any of the above sound like a strange language – open your ‘On The Quad’ and refresh yourself on how to ‘Arrive, Survive and Thrive at College!’

For Students, By Students – Advice

New and continuing college students – are you tired of getting advice from  your parents, professors, advisors, and other authorities, who like to share from their experiences (or maybe just hear themselves talk)?

This week I will refrain from giving advice and recommend you read what your college peers are saying about college life. This articleAdvice for New Students From Those Who Know (Old Students)was recently published in the New York Times. More than 20 students, each from a different college/university, shared their thoughts on a variety of useful topics.

My favorite section is ‘Understand the System and Work It.’ (Read it!)


Do you have trust issues? Many people do. We each could probably make a long list of reasons we have issues trusting others, whether the ‘other’ is a person or a business. In the end, if you analyzed your reasons for a lack of trust, more than likely it will come to having been let down by someone when something important was transpiring.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking on the phone, corresponding over email, and meeting students and parents face to face, who are not trusting the information I am giving them. I understand times of hesitation, and I understand the need to ask a lot of questions, but I do not understand resistance to well designed programs which have been thoroughly explained on how they benefit a first year student’s well-being. The case which keeps coming up for me is, the handful of students who want to be part of our Honors program, but do not want to live in the Honors residence hall (dorm).

All these resistant students are: 1) going to live on campus, 2) with a bunch of strangers, 3) in a building they have never lived in before, 4) and most of them, with a person they have never met in person! Why do they not want to live in the resident hall designated to the Honors program? I repeatedly explain they are not competing against their roommate, the person next door, or the person upstairs – college is not high school, there is NOT one best student. As a high achieving student, why not live with other academically minded, motivated students? Honors students are social; I hear they even party! They ARE regular first year students! They are you, you ARE one of them.

I think it may be challenging for some students to realize that college is a new identity; I understand this. In asking these students to trust me, I try to put into perspective the reality that they are leaving (the) high school (drama) behind and get to be the person they want to be. However, coming to a very large university is a bit scary, so why not start it by living in a supportive community?! I know I have an adult perspective on this – an adult perspective having worked with students for more than 15 years. Please, please, trust me!

Thank you, to the 160+ students, who have gladly and enthusiastically, set their housing preference to live in the Honors residence hall! And for the handful who have been resistant, thank you for another blog topic!

Who Will You Be at Orientation?

At many institutions of higher education summer orientation is in full swing. Transfer students and new first year students are roaming around campus wondering if they are near their destination, how they will ever figure out all these buildings and classrooms, and are anxiously anticipating if they might meet the student who will be their roommate or new best friend!

Yesterday, I started training student leaders for a pre-orientation special event we host for students and their guests in our program. One part of the training included brainstorming the types of students we are going to meet at these events. The list includes:
* anxious and fearful
* shy and uncomfortable
* overwhelmed and stressed
* know-it-all’s who are too cool for this
and a few other adjectives.

Then we brainstormed how they, individually as as student leaders, and we, as a team, will manage the emotions these students and guests (i.e. parents) share with us. We recognize these are emotions you are facing going into this event, those adjectives might not describe you in “regular” life.

Students, and family member(s), as you prepare for orientation, think about how you want to present yourself. Are you going to be the ‘know-it-all’ who has two siblings who already graduated from here, and you don’t understand why you need to attend orientation since you already know everything, and already have a course schedule prepared? Are you going to be so antsy from spending the past five hours in the car on the drive to the campus, that you can’t sit still and be respectful to the presenters? Are you going to be so overwhelmed that each time someone asks you a question, you say ‘I don’t know, this is all new to me.’ and not attempt to listen attentively enough to make your own, informed decision?

We recommend you go into orientation with an open mind and listening ears. Please don’t be pompous and demeaning to the student leaders and professional staff. Please don’t be frustrated and angry toward the people who don’t have your transcript. (FYI: you sent your transcript and exam scores to the Admissions office, not directly to your orientation leader!) Be friendly to new students. Ask them why they chose to apply here, and what made them say “yes” to this school, and which residence hall or apartment, they are planning to live in, and have they decided on a major and why they are choosing it? These interactions will make your orientation experience a positive one. Most importantly, have fun!!

Summer Research – Visits and Tours!

Summer, summer, summer time! Summer is an exciting time for soon to be high school juniors and seniors, and their parents, to engage in research. Research you say? Yes, get with university lingo, and call your visits to college campuses research! This research should be fun. One element of this research is conducted by listening to admissions presentations and going on campus tours – a real living-learning laboratory!

Since I recently started working at a new university, I attended an admissions presentation and campus tour a few days ago. During the presentation, and while on the campus tour, the majority of the questions were asked by the parents. This did not surprise me, but I encourage you, student, to ask questions when you visit/tour. Only two students, out of about 40, asked questions during the one and half hour we were together.

In addition to reading Chapter Four of ‘On the Quad’ and using our free visit and tours worksheet available on this website, I challenge you to come up with a list of 3-5 questions you would ask if you already knew you were accepted to the institution. While enjoying the admissions presentation, put yourself in the mind frame of ‘I have been accepted here! They want me! Now, this is what I want to know about them, in order for me to say “yes” to spending the next 4-5 years of my life here!’

Colleges fill their admissions websites with the answers to the questions they get asked most frequently, so review the website before the visit, and focus on asking questions that are not found there. University students, staff and faculty are quick to share their personal experiences, so do not hesitate to ask questions that sound similar to this: “Based on your experiences at (name of institution), what would you recommend …?” You can even follow that question up with, “How would your best friend (or favorite professor) answer the same question?” If you are a bit shy, or nervous about asking questions, focus on the fact that 1) you will more than likely never see the people you are on the tour with ever again, and 2) no question is a dumb question – college is a new experience for you!

Enjoy your summer research! And, remember, ‘On the Quad’ has a whole chapter dedicated to this; don’t forget to take a few copies of the visit/tours worksheet with you!

Advice: get advised!

A few weeks ago, I started working at a different university. I am very excited to be on this campus, and for the opportunity to work with a specialized student population! In the short time I have been here, I have interacted with numerous students engaging in research and analysis both locally and abroad, students working with external clients through their coursework, and student leaders who have been, and are, delivering support services (scheduling assistance) and appreciation events (graduation celebration) for their peers.

This week, our institution hosted an advising conference for the more than 200 advisors across the campus. The campus leadership recognizes the importance of advising and support services, so greatly, advising initiatives were addressed in three of four recommendations for campus growth and change, in a internal report conducted three years ago.

The keynote speaker at this conference was Charlie Nutt Ed.D., the Executive Director of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). I had the opportunity to engage with Charlie during a small group question and answer session, and hear his keynote address! During both, he both spoke about the importance of advisor-advisee relationships for all students. He referenced the research done by Richard Light, of Harvard (2001), which came to the same conclusion: students need positive, directive, supportive advising throughout their college career in order to persist and feel personal worth. (Dr. Light’s research and NACADA resources were both utilized in ‘On the Quad.’)

Students and parents in the high school stage, please know, college relationships with academic advisors/counselors, is much different than the high school model. Meeting with them should be done frequently, and never viewed as an inconvenience or a punishment.

Students and parents in the college stage, please know, no matter what year you are (your student is) in, find at least one advisor, staff or faculty, who has the time to get to know you, who provides you a listening ear and reflective, helpful guidance, who motivates you, keeps you accountable, and helps you grow and succeed!

Does Free Equal Motivation?

A few weeks ago, media was all-a-buzz about President Obama’s “free community college” idea mentioned in his State of the Union address. Does it sound too good to be true? Let’s disect a little.

Doing a bit more reading on this idea, the U.S. News & World Report stated the following… According to the White House budget document, you’d have to be at least a half-time student with a B average whose family makes less than $200,000 a year. And the tuition would be free only for two years. That suggests that students would still have to fill out onerous financial aid forms. And many part-timers would still be ineligible.

Students, do you REALLY know what it takes to maintain a ‘B’ average in college? Only 36% of the first years students at the university where we work have a ‘B’ or better grade point average (GPA) at the end of their first term. Nearly 17% are on academic probation for having an average GPA of ‘C-‘ or lower! So, what is free tuition really about? It’s about academic motivation!

In addition to, or rather, excluding free money, what would motivate you to achieve, not strive for, but to actually earn, a ‘B’ or better average, in all your college coursework? Are/were you a 3.0 GPA student in high school? Do you think college is/will be easier than high school? The things other than free money, need to be your true motivators! Then, effective time management, dedication to studying, and knowing how to study, are the only things that will help you (a student) earn the 3.0+ GPA.

It’s our hope you are motivated by your own self, not just by money! No one is handing out free money once you’ve graduated! (Well, maybe your Grandma, but that’s wishful thinking too!)

How to share the college experience: students and parents

Have you heard the term ‘Student Lifecycle Management (SLM)?’ SLM refers to the phases and stages students and parents go through within educational systems. A few months ago, Chris McNamee, wrote this article for Hobsons on managing SLM.

In relationship to higher education, SLM can get really confusing really fast, for both students and parents. For parents, higher education has changed significantly both financially and academically from when they went to college, and for students, the K-12 years of education were planned, where as in college, personal choice and freedom reign.

Mr. McNamee provides a good frame of reference for what SLM should look like on the college level:

  • Advising/academic planning,
  • University services/resources,
  • Engaging campus life.

These are just a few things students and parents should keep in mind while researching institutions and deciding where to apply.

Our campus tour worksheet provides an extensive list of resources campus’ may provide which will help you manage your SLM – take advantage of everything the college has to offer, especially if you believe the K-12 system you went through hasn’t not thoroughly prepared you for higher education.

Shared Thoughts from a College Senior

Jonathan is a college senior and he’s already received a job offer, which he’s accepted! (Congratulations Jonathan – yay for employment!) In this short article he shares, what he has deemed as three “important principles … during his time in academia.” I think they’re useful to high school students, college students, and parents of both high school and college students; enjoy!  Reflections of an Employed College Senior