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if you are a parent of an "average" Freshman in college....


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#1 NEprairiemom

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:33 PM

what are the things that your child struggled with the most during their first year of college?

 

I have a daughter who is a junior this year.

 

She is a good student, but isn't an AP/honors student.  She has not taken any dual credit courses nor does she plan to.  she doesn't do more than what is expected....but she does do what is expected.

 

She is not is not what I call techie...she has a dumb phone and a laptop...with an email, but she doesn't snap chat or instagram...we have started doing some live classes online this year and will do more next year.   She will get a smart phone next year. Just haven't had the need for one.  She isn't off on her own too much.  But she is busy with a couple part time jobs close by...plays organ for our church, and helps me at the library (I am the librarian).  She is great with small kids and knows nearly all of the small children in our town..she is their "hero". 

 

She is not a "popular" kid  with kids her age...but we also live in a tiny, tiny town where getting together with friends is hanging out with a few other homeschooled girls. This in not really by choice, but the non-homeschooled girls her age in our town have never given my daughter the time of day, so she doesn't bother with them.  She has no use for teenage drama.

 

So, either academically or socially, what did your freshman struggle with?  


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#2 regentrude

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:48 PM

time management

a realistic judgment about how fast the material moves and how much study time is needed to stay on top and succeed

when to seek out help and where to find it

living in close quarters with a stranger without a privacy and a place to be alone

 

I teach intro courses and am an advisor, and these are typical for freshmen.

 

ETA: Freshmen from average highschools often also struggle with the feeling of being stupid when they encounter for the first time in their lives material they do not understand. Often it's the very good students who are most affected, because their highschool never gave them the gift of failure. They never had to work hard before, and their struggles translate into self doubts; they think they are not smart enough. It is very sad to see how desperate some of them are, because they never experienced a low grade before.


Edited by regentrude, 11 February 2018 - 05:52 PM.

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#3 NEprairiemom

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 06:36 PM

so is there anything I can do to help my daughter (and later my sons) with any of that...or is that more of a "hands on" thing that needs to be learned that Freshman year of college?



#4 Heigh Ho

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 06:38 PM

gap filling -- takes time to sort thru the tutors and websites to get the info needed 

 

meal plan - too many students, long lines; classes scheduled during lunch and no way to get a bag lunch


Edited by Heigh Ho, 11 February 2018 - 07:57 PM.


#5 regentrude

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 06:41 PM

You can help by:

challenging them and giving them the experience of NOT succeeding with little effort

emphasizing over and over that the anticipated college work load 2 hours out of class/1 hour in class and that being a full time student requires a 50 hour work week

telling them that smart students seek out help in the form of office hours, help sessions, tutoring and that this is no weakness

 

But some things are just learned freshman year. Be supportive when your student struggles to figure it out.


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#6 JenneinAZ

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 06:58 PM

My freshman struggled with asking for help. The act of going to the office hours and asking professors and teaching assistants or even classmates for help was truely difficult.

The other big problem was finding time to eat and sleep and do laundry. She couldn’t wait until the last minute to do any of those things. And mom couldn’t remotely remind her that the hours for the cafeteria would end. Or that if the alarm goes off at 7:00 am then going to bed at 4:00 is bad. And laundry has to be done and waiting until you are on your last pair of underwear is not wise.

And the final major problem... dealing with sharing a room with someone else. Negotiating when to turn the light off or when the alarm goes off. Or who uses the electric outlets. Or all the other things that involve sharing a space.
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#7 Frances

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 06:58 PM

time management
a realistic judgment about how fast the material moves and how much study time is needed to stay on top and succeed
when to seek out help and where to find it
living in close quarters with a stranger without a privacy and a place to be alone

I teach intro courses and am an advisor, and these are typical for freshmen.

ETA: Freshmen from average highschools often also struggle with the feeling of being stupid when they encounter for the first time in their lives material they do not understand. Often it's the very good students who are most affected, because their highschool never gave them the gift of failure. They never had to work hard before, and their struggles translate into self doubts; they think they are not smart enough. It is very sad to see how desperate some of them are, because they never experienced a low grade before.

As to you’re last paragraph, I also think this occurs because they don’t actually realize their high school education was very average or even subpar. Coming out of high school, all of my classmates realized this and were prepared to work much, much harder in college. My guidance counselor’s response when I told him the school I had chosen was something along the lines of “Wow, that’s a really tough school. I don’t think anyone from here has ever gone there before.” And I was one of the class valedictorians. But when my husband taught at the local LAC, he had lots of students from small town high schools who seemed to have no idea how much harder college would be or the competition they would face. They were so use to being praised by their parents and teachers and many had taken community college classes in their high schools. Suddenly they were thrown in with students from public IB programs and rigorous private high schools who had much stronger preparation.

One thing I would encourage is to error on the side of over preparing and over studying at first until they get an idea of professors’ expectations. This can also be useful when illness or other unexpected things occur. If they are already ahead, it’s not so hard to make up for loss time.
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#8 regentrude

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 07:08 PM

Another thing students seem to have difficulties with: how to compose an email to your professor. You can teach that at home:

 

1. have a concise subject

"class", "from student", "physics" are not good.

"Physics 101 sec A", "Homework question", "class absence" are better

 

2. have a salutation

"hey you", "howdy", "Miss Amy" = unprofessional

"Professor Smith", "Dr. Jones", "Mr. Moss" (only if he does not have a doctorate) = professional. 

You should only address you instructor by their first name if they told you to do so.

And addressing them by their last name only is usually considered as rude. Your math professor is not "Smith!"

 

3. be articulate and come to the point. And tell the professor who you are and in which of her several classes. Either in the bulk of the email (some student prefer to start with "my name is Joe Smith, and I am in your Physics 101 section B") , or in your signature.

"Joe" is only helpful when the professor has one small class and you're the only Joe.

"Joe Smith, Phys101, sec B" tells me which one of my 645 students you are. Trust me, there will be at least six Joes.

 

 

 


Edited by regentrude, 11 February 2018 - 07:13 PM.

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#9 regentrude

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 07:15 PM

oh, and another one: tell your kid to Read.the.syllabus!

 

The syllabus contains a wealth of information about course structure, due dates, assignments, point breakdown, rules.

Professors spend a lot of time compiling all relevant information into a syllabus document.

Asking questions that are clearly answered in the syllabus will not make a favorable first impression.


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#10 Rosika

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 07:52 PM

so is there anything I can do to help my daughter (and later my sons) with any of that...or is that more of a "hands on" thing that needs to be learned that Freshman year of college?

 

 

oh, and another one: tell your kid to Read.the.syllabus!

 

The syllabus contains a wealth of information about course structure, due dates, assignments, point breakdown, rules.

Professors spend a lot of time compiling all relevant information into a syllabus document.

Asking questions that are clearly answered in the syllabus will not make a favorable first impression.

 

This was going to be my suggestion. My SIL is a professor and says this is her biggest struggle with freshman. I know my sons have also had this problem, even the son who was very organized and attentive to detail. He was just used to more hand holding than college gave him (he graduated from public high school.)

 

My third son is a junior this year. What I did differently was - very time consuming and a giant headache LOL - but to prep him better, especially since he'll be graduating from home school, was to create syllabi for each of his classes. In some cases it was just re-writing a curriculum's material (e.g., MP's Rhetoric schedule and intro from the TM) but in other cases it was scheduling out every assignment and test date so that everything was in his syllabus. I anticipated questions within the syllabus - exceptions, extra credit, grading rubrics, etc. I printed copies for each of us. If he asked me a question that was answered in the syllabus, his "punishment" was to buy me lunch. LOL I ate well the first few months of fall semester!!

 

I have ADD and really struggle with schedules and planning. It took me the better part of summer to organize this, and a lot of patience from my family. But it's been great because everything is mapped out. I'm mainly counting his grade - tests, a few papers, etc. I look over the daily work and give a participation grade but that's mostly for his own benefit to do, as prep for quizzes and tests and papers. I record his grades right on my copy of the syllabus. I suggest he do, too, but he hasn't. And that's a shame, because I noticed I gave him a zero for something he did turn in. He didn't catch it. (My goal is to have him stay atop of his grades, too.)

 

Spring has gone much better. He's consulting his syllabus a lot more, and is figuring out deadlines. Because of my ADD, we've never really had "due dates" or a firm schedule. This didn't impact my older two because they graduated from public high school, but I worried it'd affect my third son who will graduate from home school.


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#11 jdahlquist

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 11:53 PM

Some students have trouble keeping up with the things that they should be doing (or that the professor expects them to do) when they are not "required" to do it.  The professor may expect the student to read the book, but not be giving quizzes or some other assessment activity directly associated with the reading.   A professor may say 'you should be able to work the problems at the end of the chapter' but not assign specific homework.  There is no specific reward for doing or penalty for not doing it, but it will impact the student's overall performance.

 

Dorm life can be a shock to some freshmen as they realize the habits, behaviors, and values of other students are different than what they have experienced in their own families.  


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#12 ThisIsTheDay

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 07:17 AM

My dd's biggest challenge was getting food.  She's not a social person, and having to plan what to eat, every single day, every week, became just really awful for her. She never did the cafeteria but had very good food court options. Even if she planned a stop after class, it was still hard and required preplanning.

 

I know it sounds a bit strange, but it was something that was unexpected, which made it more difficult. She had a mini fridge and microwave in her dorm room that first year but really still needed to get food at least once a day.

This was why we paid a lot more for on campus housing, apartment style, with a full kitchen for the following three years. The cost was offset though, since that meant she wasn't on a required $3K/year meal plan. Every 2-3 weeks, I would bring food and take her shopping, and stopping at the food court occasionally became a treat for her instead of drudgery.


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#13 creekland

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 07:46 AM

The biggest adjustment my youngest had to learn (aside from the timing issues with laundry, assignments, etc discussed well earlier) was to step outside his dorm & room to find friends.  His not choosing to be a partier is a minority at his college, but there are other students there who also prefer a different life.  He had to get involved in clubs to find them.  Once he had some good friends, he was fine, but that first semester was shaky and we thought he might come home.  He needed to be prodded to get involved.  Once involved he's enjoyed college tremendously - learning by experience most of those timing issues.  It's really awesome (as a mom) seeing the great young man he's become.

 

Without friends to share it with, college is the pits.


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#14 J-rap

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 08:01 AM

I think the most difficult parts for my dd were adjusting to so much work with so many deadlines constantly coming up, and also how to make friends as a kind of shy person.  

 

What helped?  For the work demand, getting good at prioritizing and scheduling out what she needed to do each day in order to keep up.  (Fortunately, she's naturally pretty organized so this is something she figured out on her own.)

 

Socially, she's pretty comfortable being a bit of a loner, but she's also kind and attentive to other students.  So, although she never really asserted herself and got very involved in social groups outside of her regular activities, she slowly made friends within her major and classes that she took regularly each semester, such as choir.  That seemed to be enough for her.  She also did volunteer work outside of school (at a hospital across the street) and got a part-time job during her "slower" semesters.  So she still was meeting new people and socializing in her own way.   :)

 

 

 


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#15 elegantlion

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 08:20 AM

Ds struggled with some of these, yet he lived at home, so the dorm and cafeteria cautions were not an issue. Food has been because he didn't want to buy food when hungry. His first semester he would skip lunch and wait until we got home to eat. It was out of frugalness more than anything. 

 

Ds' biggest struggle by far has been getting up and getting out of the house. This is not a new thing, he had this issue in prek and K. He and I will never be morning people and unfortunately he has had more than one 8am class. Even when he's had enough sleep, he doesn't want to get up. So a caution about scheduling. I do better not taking evening or late afternoon classes, ds enjoys them more. 

 

There are some areas where ds has thrived where other students may struggle. He is not intimidated by professors. I think some of that is that he's used to interacting with adults. I see freshmen afraid to ask questions in class or use office hours or to contact professors at all just because the age difference is intimidating. 



#16 Arch At Home

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 08:32 AM

My First Year's greatest struggle has been roommates. Too much time was spent trying to make the situation work. That said, she explored all of her resources to help solve the roommate problem - friends, upper class women, health center, chaplain, RA, and resident director. This semester with better roommates, she is realizing that the friends she clung to last semester may not be the best for her and she is starting to reach out to other women.

 

She also had a few executive functioning issues, forgetting to write down assignments and over sleeping for a group presentation, which she had to work through.

 

One thing that surprised us is that once on campus she did not have the time, focus, or energy to purchase anything other than the barest necessities (books, toiletries, and school supplies). Consequently, we sent her back with everything she needed to get through the next semester.



#17 SMMom1

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 09:20 AM

I teach college freshmen every fall, and I find that most really struggle with time management. They just don't understand how many hours they should be studying outside of class. We recommend one credit hour in which a student enrolls, they will spend approximately two to three hours outside of class studying. So for my 3-unit class, that is 6-9 hours studying each week. And their lives would be so much easier if they read ahead, made flashcards for the quizzes, and developed study guides for the exams. I get a few kids who ask for help each year, and I direct them to Cal Newport's books. They are great for figuring out how to get organized for the demands of college.


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#18 SanDiegoMom in VA

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 01:43 PM

*Time Management (my dd just saw at the beginning of last week that she had three midterms and a paper due today and tomorrow. She should have looked in the syllabus and had those dates inputed into her google calendar at the beginning of the quarter!)

 

*Meal times (planning to get food around classes when the dining halls are open at set hours)

 

*** Definitely office hours and TA office hours. So important. 

 

****Making friends - this is where a big campus is much harder than a smaller campus.  It's too easy to be just one in a huge crowd. My dd is having to really work to make friends in a school the size of a city. Joining clubs, being out and about in the dorm and starting conversations with people you might not know is so important.  They have to hit the ground running in the beginning of freshman year, meeting people and joining MORE than they think they might want to be involved in. 



#19 lewelma

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 06:49 PM

This is very helpful info. Very useful for all students, not just the average ones.
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#20 kiana

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 07:01 PM

Mostly math-related, although goes for most quantitative subjects.

 

If your professor says "Please come to my office hours, I want to explain this so that you can understand it", they're serious.

If you're lost in math class, closing your eyes and putting your fingers in your ears and waiting for it to go away won't work. It's just going to get worse. 

There's a lot of tutoring available at most schools. Use it.

If you understand something in class, work some problems to see if you really understand it. Math is not a spectator sport.

If you had accommodations before college or were entitled to them, at least register with the disabilities office. It's much easier to not use the extra time than to fail classes because you're stubbornly insisting on doing it without "help". I can't give them retroactively. 

 


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#21 regentrude

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 07:05 PM

If you had accommodations before college or were entitled to them, at least register with the disabilities office. It's much easier to not use the extra time than to fail classes because you're stubbornly insisting on doing it without "help". I can't give them retroactively. 

 

Piggybacking on this, because I am fighting this battle right now:

 

If you have accommodations, get your documentation to the professor before the deadline (which is stated in the syllabus and of which you were reminded several times in lecture.) Just because you have accommodations does not mean rules and deadlines do not apply to you. 


Edited by regentrude, 12 February 2018 - 07:06 PM.

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#22 Nan in Mass

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 09:42 AM

All the regentrude said. : )

 

It took my children a few years to find their feet socially.  There wasn't much we could have done about that other than send them to school.  They saw other people their age almost every day, growing up.  School is different, somehow.

 

You can help by working on things like breaking down a big project into pieces, keeping an assignment book/calendar, research skills, writing skills (non-creative), reading speed, outlining, drawing conclusions, lab reports, lab notebooks, really solid algebra and trig skills, and how to deal with a textbook (skimming, picking out important points, answering questions, making flashcards).

 

Nan


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#23 kiana

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 11:06 AM

Fractions. My freshmen can't do fractions. 

 

Please regularly include fractions without a calculator in your algebra classes. Please. 


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#24 daijobu

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 11:30 PM

 

 

ETA: Freshmen from average highschools often also struggle with the feeling of being stupid when they encounter for the first time in their lives material they do not understand. Often it's the very good students who are most affected, because their highschool never gave them the gift of failure. They never had to work hard before, and their struggles translate into self doubts; they think they are not smart enough. It is very sad to see how desperate some of them are, because they never experienced a low grade before.

 

To this point, here's a relevant slide from a Richard Rusczyk talk.


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#25 Janice in NJ

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 05:18 AM

Good Morning, 

 

Every Aug and every January, I made/make my college students mock up a sample schedule. 

 

Classes - in one color

Study time - in another. Two hours outside class for every hour of class. Intelligently placed. Class on a Monday @ 10 AM? It is probably good if you can hit your first study-block within a couple of hours of that. (To review your notes. Write 4-5 sentences that summarize what the lecture was about. Start homework or reading/notes for next lecture) And when planning your study-schedule, pay attention to office hours. Plan your schedule with the intent of using office hours or TA hours.)

 

Side note: 

Shortly after the lecture is the best place for lecture-summary-time: 

Did the prof argue a point? Thesis? Support? Counter-arguments?

Did the prof prove a theorem? What was it? Did he spend most of the class on that ONE theorem? Then it's probably significant. :-)  

Was there ANYTHING from the lecture that still doesn't make sense? Make a list. Check office hours. Schedule a visit on your calendar. 

 

Back to the schedule: 

Meals/Laundry/Correspondence time daily (email etc) - Put this stuff on the schedule

Clubs/activities? On there!

Do you like to stare at the TV? Put it on the schedule (helps them to see how they are spending their blocks) 

 

THEN - sit and look at your plan. This is always an eye opener. No matter how many times you do it! IT LOOKS FULL BECAUSE IT IS FULL! This is impossible!?! Gasping! Heavy sighs!  All that - 50 hours of WORK is a LOT OF WORK! I put this in bold because it is always a shock. BUT it put them in the right frame of mind regarding the pacing of their days. If they are approaching their week with a come-what-may attitude, they are going to be drowning by mid-terms. If they adjust their pacing to accommodate reality from the beginning, things go much more smoothly. They adapt and they sail on through to finals. They are working to be sure, but they aren't bewildered about how much they should be working. And the schedule is the best inoculation against angst and panic. 

 

Really. Everyone has access to a calendar program. This isn't a mental exercise, it's an actual one. Make 'em draw in the blocks. Color code 'em. And then LOOK at it!  :001_smile:

 

Then - this final piece. This makes all the difference when done well: 

Reflect on the past week/Plan for next week - a short block for checking your pacing and your weekly plan (30 mins?). How are you doing? How is the schedule working? Do you need to move things around? Now, think about the week ahead: how should you be using your blocks? Big test coming up? Plan the detail for your study blocks: what exactly should you be doing and when? For EVERY block. That way when you look at your schedule and see Tuesday: 11 AM - it already sets a clear objective for that hour. "Problem set 27" or "Read and Summarize Chapter 18" or "Prepare Study Guide for Chapter 27" A clear goal. (And keep in mind, I always told my kids that a 1-hour block is 50 minutes of work and then 10 minutes of getting a coffee/going to the bathroom/checking your phone. A break. Then back to it - to work - uninterrupted.) 

 

The calendar with clear objectives designed on a weekly basis for each hour. My single biggest piece of good advice.

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 


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#26 kiana

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 09:28 PM

If the instructor or TA does an "exam review", go unless you absolutely can't for some other reason (or you're really really acing the class, I guess). If there's a review, work it first. 

 

I quit doing them because I got tired of showing up to an empty room. 


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#27 Kassia

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 09:49 PM

If the instructor or TA does an "exam review", go unless you absolutely can't for some other reason (or you're really really acing the class, I guess). If there's a review, work it first. 

 

I quit doing them because I got tired of showing up to an empty room. 

 

Yes!  And if it's a class with recitations, it's possible that another recitation has a better review session than yours does so you may want to ask around or attend different review sessions to see which is best for future exams.  


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#28 regentrude

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 07:59 AM

Another one:

you only truly learn something when you teach it to another person. This is the secret behind study groups (or, in educese, "peer instruction".) Even if you're an introvert, seek out the opportunity to study with other students. Being forced to talk about the problem and process organizes and cements the material in your mind to a degree that silent self study does not.

If your college offers an opportunity to do this in an organized framework, go. In our department, we offer ten hours of Learning Centers per week for each of the intro courses; students drop in to work on homework in groups, we have tutors and faculty on hand to assist with questions. Fifty percent of my students attend, even though it is voluntary and they don't get any points for coming.

 

 


Edited by regentrude, 16 February 2018 - 07:59 AM.

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#29 elegantlion

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 09:06 AM

Another one:

you only truly learn something when you teach it to another person. This is the secret behind study groups (or, in educese, "peer instruction".) Even if you're an introvert, seek out the opportunity to study with other students. Being forced to talk about the problem and process organizes and cements the material in your mind to a degree that silent self study does not.

If your college offers an opportunity to do this in an organized framework, go. In our department, we offer ten hours of Learning Centers per week for each of the intro courses; students drop in to work on homework in groups, we have tutors and faculty on hand to assist with questions. Fifty percent of my students attend, even though it is voluntary and they don't get any points for coming.

 

My university does something similar. It's like group tutoring for many of the general studies courses. We meet 3 times a week and review course material or help them prepare for the next class (in the class I tutor it has a lot of primary source readings, so I help students work their way through that material). They're free and voluntary. It not only helps maximize study time, it's helpful for staying organized with a particular class. 


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#30 DawnM

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 03:39 PM

I have to say that doing some dual enrollment classes first helped my son a great deal.  He could not have handled going from high school to living away and managing everything right away.

 

He then stayed at the CC for an additional year full time.  

 

He just went away in January and the roommate situation is NOT good.  But he is working on getting out of it.  One of his roommates comes home drunk every weekend, is a real jerk, and now has threatened him and gotten into a fight with another student.  There is MUCH more, but let's just say it isn't good.

 

He was given the opportunity (sight unseen but they had talked online) to room with someone else and just didn't follow through to make it happen.  Well, now he is kicking himself because that kid has ended up being a really good friend.  They are hoping to work something out for the future.

 

Anyway, so my advice would be to find the sites that allow for roommate searches (most colleges have a FB group or a way for students to meet each other), and pick someone rather than let the college pick for you.

 

 



#31 suzanne4

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 06:12 PM

I have to say that doing some dual enrollment classes first helped my son a great deal.  He could not have handled going from high school to living away and managing everything right away.

 

 

  

I agree.  CC classes helped my college students have an easier adjustment to college away from home. The knew how to deal with all the academic issues and just had to focus on roommates, meals, etc.  It would have been much harder for them if they also had to deal with college courses for the first time.  


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