College life requires work, preparation

Some first-year college students seem unaware of the strict demands they face when beginning their careers in higher education.

Mia Dodson, a junior transfer student and psychology major at VCU, said she initially worried about being “swallowed up” when she came to the university but adjusted to the transition.

“Often we concoct an image of what we hope furthering our education is all about but the fantasy is nothing of the reality,” Dodson said.

Jon Steingass, director of undergraduate academic advising for the College of Humanities and Sciences said, “Many incoming first-year students are unprepared to handle the academic rigor of college courses because they have not fully developed their study (skills) and self-management skills.”

“Based on our data, some students are not academically successful because educational goals are not congruent with academic strength. Inappropriate course selection and poor scheduling, failure to adjust to the increased expectations of the university environment and other activities such as jobs and social (lives) take priority over academics,” he said.

VCU admissions counselors recommend high school students take college preparation courses and visit colleges of their choice.

“A sound approach to helping first-year students develop study and self-management skills is through the course Introduction to the University 101, academic advising sessions and workshops strategically offered throughout the freshman year,” Steingass said.

Admissions counselors said students must read to stay informed, contact departments with questions and explore the college Web site.

Susan Passmore, assistant director in the office of undergraduate admissions, said, “First-year students should take advantage of the Student Testing Advising Registration process and all it has to offer.

“Through STAR, freshmen can choose to be in an interest group with students of the same major and have up to three classes in common, which helps students to connect.”

Dodson said, “College is full of opportunities if you look for them. It helps a lot to go to lecture, communicate with your professors and use the library but most of all relax and enjoy your education.”

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