It is fair to assume that no student begins college thinking “I want to land on academic probation this semester.” Students usually have the best intentions. However, for a wide range of reasons, many students are not as successful as they could be during their first semester in college and that disappointment can possibly have a negative impact on the remainder of their first year.
There is no “one size fits all” solution for addressing this issue because the reasons for performing poorly academically can vary a great deal. Every student has their own personal story and every student is affected by the transition into college in a different way.
Reasons Students Don’t Perform Well Academically
- Difficult Coursework
- Pledging a Fraternity or Sorority
- Too Much Partying
- Overwhelmed by Level of Independence
- Phyiscal Health Issues
- Mental Health Issues
- Drug and/or Alcohol Abuse
- Personal/Family Issues
- Poor Time Mangement
- Lack of Strong Study Skills
- Unable to Ask for Help
Some students are affected by just one of these issues while many can be affected by multiple issues. The difficulty with being a college student is that students typically have to seek out help. The resources available at a college campus often depend on the size of the school, budgetary constraints, and the type of institution but almost all colleges and universities have resources in place to help students achieve academic success. The problem often lies in the fac that students either don’t know the resources exist or they simply don’t know how to reach out and ask for help.
There are many ways to achieve success in college but one thing that can set the tone for your college career is how you perform during your first semester there. Students can enjoy college life and all it has to offer while always making their academic journey their top priority. Here are a few tips that can help.
A Time for Everything
Nothing beats the excitement of unmonitored independence. Students love it. It’s their time to make their own decisions and enjoy freedom. There is nothing wrong with feeling that way. However, students have to remember that with decisions come consequences and they have to be prepared to deal with that. There are tons of opportunities to spend time with friends and party at school but students have to keep their eye on the prize. Partying is fine, but choosing a party over studying the night before a major exam – that is just a bad choice. Students need to weigh options, consider consequences, and choose wisely.
Avoid Being Overinvolved
Getting involved in college is one of the best things a student can do. When a student prepares for the workforce or for graduate school they should try to be as well rounded as they can be. There are opportunities for sports, student clubs, leadership roles, and Greek life and students should consider it all. But considering and pursuing are two different things. During the first year students should limit their involvement because becoming a college student is a huge responsibility and being overextended can lead to burnout and failure. The first year is just the beginning. Students should use that time to explore, feel things out, and get adjusted.
Pay Attention During Orientation
Orientation is a very different experience at every institution but there is often one common thread – being informed about campus resources. Students often tune out during orientation programs because of information overload or because they feel certain that they will never need those resources. The truth is, students have absolutely no clue what they (or a friend) may need during their time in college so knowing what’s available on campus can never hurt. Students should keep all the materials they receive and keep an open ear about what’s available on campus. It’s a guarantee that at some point they will utilize at least one of those campus resources if not more.
Find at Least One Faculty Member or Administrator You Can Trust
Students in need of help usually don’t get that help because they have no idea who to turn to and no idea who they can trust. Students should seek out at least one person who works at their institution that they can trust. It doesn’t matter who that person is because if you build a good rapport with them they can help you. University faculty and administrators are there to serve to students. Even if a student seeks help about an issue that the faculty/administrator is not an expert in, they will certainly point the student in the right direction. Ask someone, anyone, for help. Chances are, they will help you.
Take Care of Yourself First
College students are infamous for not taking care of themselves. Living on junk food, caffeine, and very little sleep is certainly not healthy, but it is common for students in college. However, when a student engages in bad habits and neglects to take care of themselves they do suffer. Being unhealthy, whether it’s physically, mentally, or emotionally, can take an enormous toll on an individual. Students should eat right, exercise, talk to friends, connect with family, and seek mental health support when needed. No one knows what a student’s authentic story is except for that student so no one can help a student meet their needs like they can.
College is a journey and it is filled with accomplishments and challenges. If a student loses their good standing they can often get back on track. However, never getting off track is possible if students seek help and keep the aforementioned tips in mind. If a student can stay on track academically it gives them an opportunity to focus on all the great possibilities instead of focusing on what went wrong.