Issues



July, 2014 Issue

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Real Life: Welcome Back To School

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Welcome to college! This exciting transition arrives faster than you think! Are you ready for the challenges that lie ahead?

Twenty five percent of students entering college will either drop out or do not return to the same institution their second year. Often referred to as ?The Red Zone,? the first six weeks of freshman year are most crucial to determining the overall success of a college student. College is a stepping stone for your future success and you want to maximize this opportunity. Prioritize your academics as first and foremost!

The freshman?s greatest challenge is time management. You will find that you will not have the same structure as you did in high school. It is easy to become distracted with socializing, the internet, video games, or social networking. Structure your day so you accomplish your academic work first and play later. Balance is important!

Find a quiet place that is conducive to studying. It may not always be your dorm room. Organization is the key. Utilize a calendar to keep yourself on track for your deadlines and refer to your syllabus. Don?t leave papers and other long-term projects for the last minute. It adds stress and you will not perform as well.

Nurture yourself! Many freshmen go crazy with their new-found freedom, turning the first semester into a free-for-all. Get plenty of sleep so you can recharge mentally and physically. Sleep deprivation decreases memory retention, leading to lower grades. Eat a well-balanced diet and watch out for that freshman 15! Most college dining halls have all-you-can-eat style food service. Watch your portions and don?t eat until you feel full so you can avoid putting on those extra pounds.

Exercise for your physical and mental wellbeing. You'll feel better and have more energy. When you exercise, the brain secretes more endorphins which elevate your mood, creating a more positive outlook on life. Take advantage of the exercise equipment that's available to you in the recreation center or walk on a regular basis.

Party in moderation! I have met students who are now on the 5 or 6 year plan because they flunked classes in their freshman year. Partying was their priority. A college education is expensive today; you don't want to add thousands of dollars to your bill.

I met a girl who was working at an auto rental counter. She shared that she had a full scholarship to a prestigious state university and partied hard her first semester. By the end of that semester her GPA was a whopping .8! She lost her scholarship. Her parents were so angry they made her move home, pay for her own education, and attend the local campus, which she hates. At that point in time she should have been a junior. She was still a freshman because she was working full time to pay for her education. I asked her what she would say if she were to give advice to incoming freshmen, she replied, ?Remember why you are here.?

Alcohol abuse is the high-risk behavior that interferes most with a successful college education today. Learn to have a good time without that social lubricant. We see many negative outcomes from lower GPA?s, increased drop outs, unprotected sex, sexual assaults, accidental injuries and deaths, aggressive behavior, and property damage.

It is natural to feel homesick. For some it does not occur until several weeks into the semester. Remember, many students are in the same situation, away for the first time from family and friends. This is your chance to create a new family and long-lasting relationships. Join clubs and organizations that interest you. You will find like-minded people and develop a sense of connection with the campus community.

You may have challenges with your roommate. Be considerate of each other?s needs and learn to openly communicate your feelings to keep the relationship healthy.

People employed on campus are there to help you, take advantage of their resources. I have found that those who work in higher ed are most caring and dedicated - from professors, to Deans, counselors, staff in student life, athletics, wellness, etc. They truly have your wellbeing at heart. Don?t be afraid to develop a mentoring relationship.

This is an exciting time of your life. You will have positive experiences, and some challenges along the way. Don?t let them get the best of you. Some of our greatest life-lessons and strengths come from adversity - it builds character. College is a privilege, not a right, so don?t take this incredible opportunity for granted, and have fun!

Questions on college life? Email me at elaine@elainepasqua.com