Often attributed to the singular factor of being granted more independence than they’re ready to handle, college freshmen can have a great deal of difficulty transitioning from their high school environments. Most students come from academic settings with rigid classroom schedules, clearly plotted assignment deadlines, and frequent letter grade assessments. College is different. While academic standards are higher, classroom hours are fewer, and tangible assessments may be much different than what students have experienced in the past. Add the freedom of making their own decisions about when and how to do outside work to the mix, and the results can be low grades and high stress.
Lack of Ownership
At the crux of transitional problems that college freshmen face may be a lack of academic ownership. Even students with solid high school resumes and high GPAs may have found their way to the top through a lot of pushing and prodding from mom, dad, teachers and coaches. Left to make academic decisions completely on their own, students sometimes choose unwisely. For example, rather than saving enjoyable content for the end of a study session -- saving the best for last -- they often leave the most challenging assignments for when they are tired and under the stress of a looming deadline. This strategy results in poor work and less comprehension.
Poor Study Skills
Freshmen who may have gotten away with bad study habits in high school find that they simply cannot do so in college. Common freshmen study skills problems include poor classroom note taking, lack of reading and content comprehension, misuse of highlighting, and an unwillingness to seek out help from professors and peers. Additionally, they are often too reluctant to adapt to new academic methodologies that may serve them, such as joining study groups and connecting with academic resources.
Poor Organizational Habits
Perhaps the number one reason freshmen do not do well is that they are often poorly organized or set unrealistic schedules, deadlines and goals. Even students with reminder beepers on their phones and multi-colored post-its in their day planners often aren’t very realistic about how many hours there are in a day. They don’t back out project deadlines, allow enough study time for major exams or acknowledge the time that they might actually spending on personal habits and interactions. One of the frequent mistakes freshmen make is sleeping in on days they don’t have early classes, not fully comprehending how helpful routine can be for their long-term academic discipline.
High school students often succeed by memorizing facts and concepts and reciting them appropriately on exams and in classroom discussions. With this as their backdrop then, it’s often no surprise that college freshmen may not be fully ready for the critical thinking required in their college classrooms. College professors often answer freshmen questions with questions of their own. While this Socratic method may be worthwhile in the long run, freshmen often find it frustrating.
Social Life/Social Media
What truly gets in the way of freshmen success in college is all of the stuff that has nothing to do with coursework at all. Roommates and romance; Facebook and Twitter; sports, parties and clubs – are all elements of freshmen college life. They also divert a student’s focus and take time away from studies.
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