I hope move in day was not too difficult. I work in stained glass as a hobby. I like to take art prints and develop stained glass designs from these. I approach each piece with a lot of excitement. As I get into the piece, the hard work begins. Sometimes I’ll spend hours on a small part of the overall piece. But eventually the piece will be done. It’s quite a thrill to take the piece off the table and see how it turned out. You can see the result of one of these efforts on the attachment.
The experience your student will go through this semester is a lot like making a stained glass piece. There is a lot of excitement now. But the hard work will begin in about four weeks. The workload will be intense. For some, they will want to give up. But I hope you will help them through the tough times so they can enjoy the “lifting off the table” moment at the end of the semester.
Today starts a great adventure for your student. I hope your student will quickly see that this isn’t high school, and he/she needs to increase the effort they put into classes.
In each class, students will be given a syllabus. The syllabus is in effect a contract between the professor and students. The syllabus spells out all elements of how the student’s grades will be determined. Many students don’t pay attention to the syllabus. As a result, students lose points for some elements of the class. In many cases, the students don’t take advantage of the easy points available in a class.
I encourage you to review the syllabus with your student. Here are some questions, you can ask:
- What are the different grade components (e.g. tests, quizzes, homework)? What is the percentage weighting on each of these components?
- Is attendance required?
- Will the lowest test grade be dropped? (If so, what does the student need to do to earn this opportunity?)
- Are there bonus point opportunities?
If you work through each syllabus with your students, that will force them to look at the syllabus. In many cases, courses also have websites. One thing I suggest you do is to review exam dates, if they are given. One of the best investments you can make for your student is a white board. The white board should have a four week schedule showing tests and assignments. You might also want to record test dates so that you can ask your student about these.
If this class is like previous classes, the students will come to our college having never been challenged in high school. All of them will have some transitional challenges. Some of them will make the transition very quickly. Others will struggle at first.
It’s going to be really critical that they keep up with the work in the first few weeks. Many of students will think they can get caught up prior to the test. This worked in high school, but it doesn’t work in college.
Let me close with the story of Josh. After the first round of tests, Josh came to me. He failed nearly every test. After fifteen minutes of talking about what had happened, I discovered the following:
- Josh wasn’t putting enough time into his classes. He was averaging less than one hour per week on most classes.
- Josh didn’t study enough for his tests. In every case, he just studied one hour the night before the test.
- Josh didn’t know how to manage his time. He had no system for studying.
- Josh has no system to record his assignments. As a result, he was losing points for every class.
After our talk, I showed Josh how to become a college student. Many of the things that I taught Josh are now available in the Student Success portion of the University Survival website.
After the second round of tests, Josh and I met again. He had made a dramatic recovery in every class. By the end of the semester, he had close to a 3.00 GPA.
I have found that students often have to go through the painful experience of failure before they accept the fact that college isn’t like high school.
One final note, a year later, I was walking through one of our learning centers. There was Josh helping younger students learn some of the same approaches I had taught him..