How to Help Your Freshman Make it Past the First Semester of College

As parents, teachers, and adults who have gone through the motions of being a freshman college student, we can all think of at least one person who has ended up repeating their first semester in college or worse back home in their old bedroom after Christmas break on a permanent basis. As a result of multiple parties, lack of focus, direction and a plan they are somewhat dumbfounded as to what has happened and hopeless. In order to prevent this situation from happening to your teenager there are some actions you can take to get them off to a good start.

#1 Organization. While this may sound like common sense, you’d be amazed to learn the number of students who show up without the bare essentials. When you make that turn off of campus to take the lonesome drive back home, make sure that you’ve left your teen with a message center for the wall where they can posts deadlines and to do items in priority order. Also purchase a day planner or some type of electronic organizer so that your child always has something in his book bag to jot down assignments and special items as soon as the teacher articulates it so they don’t forget. Also make sure that they have folders or notebooks that are labeled separately for each course, paper, pencils, and a calculator for the math and financial courses.

#2 Encourage Them to Set a Schedule and Notify Your Friends. When your child is deciding what courses to register for and what time slots to select, encourage them to select courses that are back to back to get them out done early so that their afternoons are free to devote to completing assignments before the sun goes down and the festivities begin.

Almost everyone goes away to college along with a best friend. Suggest that your teen consider turning off his ringer to prevent distractions while completing homework assignments to prevent those who aren’t as focused from be coming their downfall.

#3 Study First, Party Second. It’s inevitable that your teen will attend a party or two. Don’t waste your time discouraging it. Instead encourage them to prioritize by doing the work first and partying second.

#4 Seek out and Join Study Groups. There is nothing like teamwork. Encourage your children early on to establish relationships with other smart and hardworking students. You can usually tell within the first three class meetings who the stars will be (hint: they normally sit near the front of room). Make a note and recruit them to be a part of a study group.

#5 Establish a Home-based Support System. While you don’t want to encourage your child that he can return home with no ramifications if things don’t work out, you also don’t want to severe ties. Make a decision to call once or twice a week just to check in. Also encourage open communication about questions and problems that may be occurring. Don’t be afraid to share the disappointments, failures and mishaps of your first semester or year to get the communication going.