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In addition, many freshmen enter college with unrealistic expectations. They are not certain what to expect or they believe that the college experience will be much like the high school experience. This is not the case and many times they find that they will struggle because they are not equipped with the necessary skills that they need to succeed.
Many freshmen do not have the study skills and discipline they need to immediately be successful. They often do not make use of resources available to them--tutoring, remediation, study skills classes, or office hours of professors. Consequently, many freshmen end up dropping out or failing out of school in the first year of college.
One very common complaint from both the community colleges and the university in my area is that the students do not have strong writing skills. I think that what passes for acceptable writing in high school falls far below that same expectation in college/univeristy.
Also, in college, students are free to manage their own schedules and their own time. Because of this, they arrange classes wrong (too early, too late, too far apart), which sets them up for disaster and offers too much temptation to not go to class at all. On the same token, they do not have the organizational skills needed to ensure that the proper amount of time is alloted to finish projects and reading assignments in a timely way, yet still ensuring high standards.
Programs in high schools such as AVID are helping this issue (Achievement Via Individual Determination)
Some of the problems that first year college students encounter are due to the large scope of the transition between their lives before college and their experience at being at the collegiate level. If students stay on campus, there is a challenge of separation between their home lives and the lives they are leading on campus. For many college freshman, the process of leaving home is approached with much in way of enthusiasm and joy, but the actual experience is a challenge as separation anxiety is present, as well as an inherent fear of the unknown.
This fear is actually the perception of freedom and the problems that can live within this, as well. The judicious and cautious use of one's freedom is a challenge for first year college students, as well. Seeing that the process of waking up and going to classes is one steeped in freedom of choice, one common problem that first year students experience is not attending class- skipping class. This adds to greater problems, such as balancing demanding workloads, attempting to establish successful study habits, planning long term and short term projects/ assignments in an effective manner, and assumption of the role as advocate for their own learning. Enacting these principles in middle and secondary school was relatively easier because the structure for these institutions was designed to support such fostering. Yet, in college, it is highly dependent on the student, particularly demanding for the first year, to develop a framework that supports all of these.
This academic component is met with the social demand. The social activity of college is a particularly powerful lure for the first year college student, and has to be met with a sense of judgment, caution, and stellar decision making skills. The wealth of social interaction opportunities is confronted with the use and potential abuse of alcohol and drugs, widely available and present in college, and a source of challenge for all students, particularly first year students who are newly exposed to this element in such abundance. These elements also find themselves in the dynamics of sexual discovery between college students, and if not guided properly, their injection into this discourse, as well as this topic in its own right, can serve as another challenging element for first year students. Finally, managing finances and maintaining financial viability is a challenge for all students, particularly first year students.
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