Two College List Tips From SRA Student Carolina Perez!

By Vanessa Barbic, Online College & Career Advisor

At Students Rising Above each year, we see our students go through a variety of experiences during their first year of college. While some students thrive, it is not uncommon for others to experience their first taste of defeat. The rigor of college courses coupled with the social stress and pressure of adjusting to a new life away from home can be too much to balance all at once. The good news is that while we have seen many students encounter setbacks their freshmen year, we have seen just as many students turn their situation around and go on to succeed and graduate from college. Below, Tia King, a SRA student who attends Carleton College shares the struggles she encountered her first year of college. She also shares how she overcame roadblocks to go on to be a confident and successful student.

Tia’s First Semester Experience At Carleton College

“This term was the first term that I have taken a linguistics class, and in this course we discussed the syntax of languages (English, Danish, German, etc). To prepare for our first test I studied for days and went to office hours and still ended up failing the test. I was upset and consequently felt terrible about myself and my work ethic. I felt like I wasn’t cut out for intensity and rigor in academics at Carleton.  

I went to my class dean to vent and he told me, “You’re supposed to be here. You were meant to be here.” So, I took it up a notch and asked my linguistics teacher for extra practice sentences, and went to every TA session AND all office hours and I studied for the test in little sessions almost every single day. When I got my next test back I received a 94%.

I am writing this post to say that college is tough and difficult to master and sometimes you may feel like the worst student on the planet, especially if you excelled flawlessly in high school. College will make you change your study habits and how you interact with your teachers. You might not have needed extra help with anything in high school but you might find yourself constantly reaching out to your professors and TAs in order to understand and practice the content of the class and that’s okay.

There’s no shame in asking for help. You will find countless people willing to take time out to help you succeed. So, freshman year is the year to fail, to discover, to stress and to triumph. If you’re willing to put in the effort and to work smarter and not harder, I promise you, you will succeed.”

Now let’s review some of Tia’s most essential pieces of advice…

Be prepared to work smarter in college.You may have been able to get by in high school by doing the bare minimum but in college this will not work. The amount of reading and writing to succeed in college classes surprises many students. Ideally, you should set aside 2-3 hours of study time for every unit of class you have. For example, if you take 12 units of class you should be studying between 24-36 hours per week on top of going to class. This means school is pretty much like a full-time job!

You may need to adjust your approach to studying.In high school simply reading your textbook and reviewing notes may have worked but in college you will need to try out a variety of study strategies. Making flashcards, going to study groups, attending tutoring clinics, rewriting notes, and re-reading textbooks chapters multiple times may all be necessary to succeed. If your school offers a study skills class TAKE IT or attend one of SRA’s webinars on study skills.

Reach out for help by connecting with your teachers, academic advisors, teaching assistants and resident advisors.In high school you may have had teachers or counselors looking out for you but in college the responsibility is yours and yours alone to ask for help when you need it. Find supportive and reliable adults on campus that you can rely on and turn to when times are tough.

There is no shame in asking for help and if you do you will likely succeed!Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP if you encounter setbacks your freshmen year. You DO belong in college and you are smart enough to succeed. Instead of throwing away all of your hard work, reach out for help and learn from your mistakes. You can move forward and it’s possible to succeed!