Saturday, July 20, 2013

Creating Your College Success Network

It's July and you are counting the weeks or maybe days until the first day of fall term.  At this point you have met some members of your campus or have names of people you will meet.  This is a great time to organize the contact information of people you have met or will meet shortly.  Who might these people be?
  • Admissions counselor or college recruiter who worked with you during the admissions process.
  • At your campus orientation, you might have met an orientation leader, financial aid counselor, or academic advisor.
  • Also, at orientation, you met other new students.
  • If you are living on-campus or used a campus housing directory to find accommodations, you will have one or more roommates.
Creating a contact list is easy and offers quick access to people who might be able to assist you with questions as the first day nears.  You might have questions about your financial aid award that could be answered in a short e-mail to a financial aid counselor.  Maybe you want to change your major, which means talking to your academic advisor about selecting different courses.  As you think about traveling to campus, you might ask other students if they are using public transportation and where they found bus information.  These questions to your peers might alert them to preparation activities they had not thought about but they will greatly benefit from as day one arrives.

So grab the smartphone, computer, or a notebook for organizing names, contact information, and their role in your college success network.  Once you initiate this list, keep it up throughout your college career with periodic updates to keep information accurate and complete.  Networking is an important skill to learn for success in college and in life!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer - Great Time to Prepare For Fall Term

Summer is a time of year that offers many opportunities to relax and reconnect with friends and family.  It is also an excellent time to prepare for fall term at your college or university.  If this is a transition year for you, here are a few questions that are followed by tips.  Answering these now will make your arrival easier.

When is orientation and how do I participate?
Most colleges and universities offer a program called "orientation."  This program offers information for students who are entering campus for the first time and it assists with a smooth transition.  The information may include:
  • campus policies and procedures.
  • interaction with campus faculty and staff, such as academic advisors.
  • an opportunity to register for your courses for fall.
  • a tour of the campus to refresh your memory of key buildings such as the library, student union, and/or student life center.
Orientation is a great opportunity to meet your peers and learn more about the campus.  It is offered in many formats, such as in-person or online, during the summer or right before the term begins, and mandatory or optional.  If you have not attended orientation, contact your institution to find out how you can participate.  It is time well spent.

Orientation is a time to learn about the campus and meet classmates.

Have I registered for my courses for the fall term?
Every semester from initial enrollment to graduation, you will take courses.  You might say that it is your main focus.  So make sure you know how to register for courses on your campus and what courses you need to have a successful first semester.  Some tips to follow are:
  • Contact an academic advisor to assist you in understanding the components of a degree at your institution.  An academic advisor is your companion in navigating campus to achieve your degree goals!
  • Ask about courses, cohorts, or learning communities that are designed for students who are new to the campus.  These are excellent opportunities for success.
  • Think about your obligations for the fall as you organize your schedule.  Will you be working and how much?  Do you care for family members?
  • If you have scholarships and financial aid, know what the course requirements are to stay in good status.  For example, a scholarship might require that you enroll full-time or maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) for continuation. 
  • Register for courses as soon as you can to make sure you have a schedule that works best for you.
The class schedule is a foundational piece of your educational experience.  It leads to graduating with a degree and an experience that is unique to you!

Your Academic Advisor will assist you in understanding how to select courses for your schedule.

Where will I live and how will I get to class each day?
This question is very important since this location is your "central command center" for the term.  Some or all of "your stuff" will be here, you will sleep here, and you will be here.  So organize now.  Consider the following:
  • Will I live on or off-campus?  What are the amenities?
  • Have I secured a space in a campus residence hall, an apartment with a friend, or made arrangements with my family to live with them? 
  • When do I move in to the residence hall or apartment?
  • Have I paid the appropriate deposits and know when monthly bills for rent and utilities are due?
  • What is my address?  How close to the campus and classrooms is this space?  
  • Do I need transportation?  Will I purchase a car or use public transportation?
The organization of housing does require some thought to produce a situation that complements your educational experience.  Use resources provided by your college or universities as you make decisions that work for you.
Will I travel to campus via foot, car, train, bus, or ferry?

If you have answers to all these questions, you are well on your way to having a successful transition to the college environment.  But if some of these topics are new to you, you have time to act.  Start immediately so that your first term begins and ends on a positive note for you!