First Year Programs
Many parents and students are concerned about college, pressure, and adjustment as well as transitioning well in First Year. So much of this unknown! Well, the good news is that many, many colleges and universities have what is called a First Year Programs. Almost all colleges will discuss the details in an information session. If you cannot travel to the college, there is information on most of the schools’ websites or you can, quite honestly, call the Admissions office. Colleges are happy to answer questions; I urge the students to be the ones to make the call. I feel it shows a level of maturity and interest, which is always good.
What are First Year Programs? It depends on the school, but most have something called a First Year Seminars which are required in different subjects such as writing. In larger universities, which have many undergraduate colleges, there are different seminars depending on the school: engineering might have different emphases than those of education. These seminars typically have weekly or twice weekly advisory meetings with a professor, advisor or a graduate assistant. Other schools have required weekly First Year advisor meetings to go through the entire schedule and discussions about workload, assignments and so forth of all classes in the schedule.
There are colleges that limit the course load for First Year programs to ensure that the students are not overloaded or derailed. There are weekly meetings with some groups of students in colleges or required sessions on time management. Most colleges have counseling centers and familiarize the students with all support programs during orientation. Almost all schools provide access to support services such as peer tutors, peer mentors, and first year resident life advisors.
Colleges want the student to succeed and are aware of the risks with the newly found independence in college and choices. Many colleges’ resident advisors are trained to look for potential alcohol or substance abuse problems. The schools have policies regarding drugs and alcohol, but in the real world this is a challenge that most schools do have to deal with in a pragmatic and prudent manner. So, the colleges are pro-active to ensure that the students are safe.
However, college is not home. College is not high school. This is a place where students are expected to mature and be accountable for their choices. Students are assisted during the transition to a new way of life and study through the First Year Programs, but parents are not given weekly updates or report cards. Parents are invited by most colleges for a weekend a few weeks after the semester start to learn how the transition is going. Students will have to navigate their own lives as young adults.
Next Article will outline some alternative programs for students who do need somewhat more individual support. There schools and some residence life programs in some locations that do offer much more for those who need it. But for the majority of colleges and universities, this is the time for the student to make his or her own decisions, be accountable and responsible for his or her schedule and actions. Most do exactly that….rest assured that First Year Programs are designed specifically to help the student launch into all that road of responsibility with a road map!