Why don’t we better prepare our children to go to college? They often go from closely supervised children to college students with little or no personal supervision. Some students do well in adjusting to this freedom and taste of adult life while others flounder and struggle. One out of five freshmen students does not return to college. Students who are not prepared for the pressures and temptations of college life may get lost along the way.
How Can Colleges Help Incoming Students?
Colleges must avoid the common problem of incoming students feeling alone and isolated. A one-week orientation is often not enough to help students settle into a new environment and a new way of life. Colleges need to come up with a student engagement strategy that works. This strategy should include several steps:
- Treat each student as if they are important. Make sure student engagement happens with all students. Every student should be offered a chance to become engaged in the student community in ways that they feel comfortable with.
- Students need more than a one-week introduction to college. The first week is often too soon to present college opportunities and information. There should be ways of continuing to make students welcome for the whole year. Events should be spaced out to cover more time and include chat groups and opportunities for students to fit in and feel comfortable.
- The committee that oversees student engagement and success should include students as well as faculty to get a better picture of what might work to help students have a better experience with college.
- Make use of the fact that most students have smartphones for student engagement.
It is important to find out where students are coming from and what problems they are facing. Once the college faculty and counselors have an accurate idea of what students are experiencing, they must try to help them cope in healthy ways. From stress due to studies, social pressures, or personal problems, students will perform better in college if some of their problems are addressed and they don’t feel alone and ignored.
How Can Parents Better Prepare Their Children to Become Adult College Students?
Success in college and in adult life might start at home with parents who do their best to prepare their children for adulthood and independence. Parents who prepare their children for college life in advance help their children be more successful.
Once children are in high school, parents must start educating them in self-management, self-care, and responsible independence. This may involve teaching teenagers how to manage money, how to do laundry, cooking and shopping skills, budgeting, learning some basic first aid, making their own doctor appointments as needed, and managing any medications they need to take. This also includes discussing taking care of one’s sexual health and personal safety.
While the young adult is still at home, have them take responsibilities they will have once they leave for college such as getting themselves up in the morning and making their own breakfast. Have them manage their own time and practice the skills they will need once they leave home so they will be more confident.
Money management is another skill that students should practice while still at home. This includes managing a bank account, paying credit card bills, making and sticking to a realistic budget, and managing student loan debt.
Safety concerns should be discussed in advance. Getting around campus safely might involve being familiar with different forms of transportation including buses, rideshare apps, and a safety app on their phone. Drinking and drug use needs to be discussed in advance. Things like binge drinking, hazing, date rape drugs put in drinks, dating safety, birth control, and avoiding or getting out of dangerous or uncomfortable situations should be discussed.
Parents should encourage their young adults to seek counseling and other available help on campus as needed rather than trying to go it alone. The student should know how to find and use student health services for medical, psychological, and sexual services. Taking self-defense classes while still at home is a good idea.
Seeking and asking for help is another area where we must encourage them often. They don’t have to face it all alone. If they’re stressed about the endless number of essays and papers, consult a paper writing service for help. If there are personal problems that they would not like to discuss with family, reach out to college counselors. There will be problems, but always know that there’s a way out!
10 Common Problems College Students Face
Parents and future college students should know the common problems they may face and discuss how to deal with them.
- Time management can be a real problem causing stress for students. The student should take a realistic number of credits each semester. They should schedule a time for study and class and some time for relaxation and fun.
- Student debt is causing too many students to drop out of college. The rising college and housing costs make it almost impossible to avoid student debt. Some students must juggle jobs with full academic schedules. Students might benefit from seeking help from a financial adviser.
- Students can spread themselves too thin with classes, jobs, relationships, and college activities. Trying to do too much might make it so students do not get enough sleep. Students can also become too stressed.
- Students can suffer from homesickness in their freshman year. This can be helped by communicating with home via e-mail, the phone, and getting care packages from home.
- College stress and feeling alone can cause a student to suffer depression or suicidal thoughts. Reach out for help, there’s always some solution or advice that can help you. The student should seek free college counseling services.
- Students can develop health problems due to added stress, poor self-care, and lack of sleep. To avoid getting sick, eat healthy, balanced meals, wash hands often, and get enough sleep. If you feel sick, visit the campus clinic for help and care.
- There can be social problems with too many or too few friends, wrong friends, conflicts with friends, and too little time alone. The student should balance social time, study time, and time for themselves.
- Partying can become a serious problem if too much of it takes place, if drugs and alcohol are involved, and if risky behavior is involved. Sex without sober consent or precautions can be traumatic. Party responsibly and safely. Don’t be influenced or driven by peer pressure, your decisions would be the best for you.
- Relationships can be heaven or they can be overwhelming. Breakups can be heartbreaking and detrimental to education. Education should not be compromised by a relationship.
- Choosing a major might be a natural thing for some students but for others, it can be very stressful. Students should focus on gaining knowledge and life skills in areas they like. The choice of a major can be something broad and versatile.
Preparing students in advance for college and the college making the needed efforts to help students engage and succeed at college can help students find college rewarding and beneficial for their future lives.