First Year Programs

Please thank That College Kid for this guest post. If anyone else would like to contribute a guest post to The Student Help Forum, please contact me.

My university has a first year program that is designed to help freshmen become accustomed to the college experience. We have a triad of classes that are intertwined. There’s a large political science or psychology class, a smaller composition class and a small seminar class. The science/psych class is a normal large lecture, with about 150+ students, but the others have 25. The coursework is similar and the seminar class is designed to help students with any questions they have and to help prepare for a successful academic career.

My school believes their award-winning first year program helps students and it’s been in use for almost ten years. Texas State University, Ohio State University and the University of Georgia are among schools that have similar programs. While I haven’t researched in great detail the programs of other colleges, I can give you first hand knowledge of the one at my school (name protected for my privacy).

It is designed for students who will not otherwise succeed in college. All classes and instructors in the first year program do not grade or teach on a college level. The classes are on an upper (think Advanced Placement) high school level. For students that do not need to be babied, this program is a waste of time and money. Yes, it’s nice to get easy A’s (assuming you do the work), but it gets you used to easy coursework. Upper classes in college are not easy. Sometimes you will find easier, smaller classes, but for the most part, once you get into your major, you will have to work much harder.

It decreases freshmen dropout rates…

But it increases sophomore dropout rates. These programs get freshmen think college is easy and they can skate by without doing any real work like in high school. Students that otherwise would have dropped out to find a job will stay longer and spend more money only to find out they were misinformed and end up leaving the next semester, when classes get tougher.

These programs do not prepare students for the real world. When you get a job, unless you are the luckiest person alive, your boss is not going to give you a grace period to mess up. He’ll give you the real work on day one. You’re lucky if you get an hour to figure out your way around the office.

High school was the transition into college. Junior and senior year of high school are supposed to get students prepared to enter the workplace or attend a university. Students take advanced placement and honors courses to get used to the type of classes they will encounter in college. AP classes at most public schools are not hard enough, but they’re much better than regular curriculum. Why have another year of that? And why pay an incredible amount of money for it?

Currently, my university does not allow freshmen to opt-out of the first year program, but I wish they did. If you have to participate in the first year program at your university, enjoy the easy work while you can because you’re in for an awakening your sophomore year.

Time Management in the New Year

First, a quick introduction! I’m Sarah, a new writer around here at The Student Help Forum. I’m a full-time post baccalaureate student in public health education. I work over 30 hours a week, write for four blogs and try to have a social life on top of everything. I hope my words of advice within The Student Help Forum strike a chord with you and enhance your student life! I’m always open to writing suggestions and you should feel free to send me some mail if you ever have something you’d like to see me address!

Second, let’s get down to business!

If you’re anything like me, once finals week is over, your brain shuts down until about a week into the next term’s classes. However, over this winter break, I’d like to challenge you to keep thinking; start thinking about next term, and how you’re going to push yourself to do even better in it.

My first suggestion on how to improve yourself in the new year & the new term is:

USE A CALENDAR

Use a Calendar!Whether you choose to use a paper calendar, or Google’s wonderful calendar application, write things down, keep track of where you’re supposed to be and when you’re supposed to be there, and then celebrate as you cross things off your list!

I use my calendar to plan telephone calls, to make doctor’s appointments, to keep track of my work schedule, to remind myself I have a blog entry due (or blog inspirations), to write down lunch dates with friends, and even to write myself notes about how my day went.

When you have big events that you need preparation, pre-reminded yourself! I write down my finals during the first week of classes, and then one week before the final, I write “PHE 355 Final – 1 week!” and high-light it to remind myself that it’s coming up.

If it’s your thing, I’ve found that color coding my calendar is incredibly helpful. I have a colors for school, for work, for blogs, for WEGOHealth (where I am a community leader), for photography, for exercise and for personal stuff. It’s a bright looking calendar and even when there’s a lot of stuff going on, at least it’s shown in fun colors!

On paper calendars, sometimes it’s hard to write about your “to-do’s” in detail, but I recommend you write down all the details (address, contact name & information, things you may need to bring, etc) when you’re writing on your calendar. I often keep paperclips in my day planner so I can attach things to the days that they belong with as well.

Another tip that I have, which comes in handy for students is to write down all the family birthdays or anniversaries you need to remember when you first get a blank calendar. Most of us get calendars when we’re home for the holidays and since your mom is most likely to be right there, have her help you out. This will help you remember to send Grams a birthday card and remind her how great she is!

While it may seem daunting to use a daily calendar to keep track of your life, I promise you that in the long run, it will pay off and you will be incredibly pleased (not to mention organized) with the results!