As high school seniors and their parents start preparing for college this summer and fall, it’s not too early to establish a college success strategy plan — which will increase the likelihood of graduation, says a Winston-Salem State University faculty member who has written a book offering tips for college success.
In this current economic climate, a college education has become more important. Add to that, federal funding limitations that now restrict the number of semesters one can attend college and the likelihood of progressing through college requires specific preparation and drive more than ever, according to Dr. David Mount, WSSU adjunct professor of behavioral sciences and author of the book Waking Up in College.
“More than anytime in modern history, students must be focused and driven about what they want out of college,” says Mount. “Hundreds of thousands of students are failing to graduate college each year due to poor decision making because they are not prepared.”
Mount recommends five tips for college success:
1. Find a mentor.
Find someone who had a good college experience and who also understands higher education and how to navigate around challenges that will happen at any college. Make that person a personal advisor to give advice on a gamut of subjects from roommate issues and living in dorms, the sequence of courses to take and when to seek tutoring. Speak with them often. “Think of this person as a coach,” noted Mount. “It’s absurd to think of winning an athletic competition without a coach or entering your first game before getting coached, similarly you need a mentor before you enter college.”
2.Know that College is not the 13th Grade.
Unlike high school, no one is there to parent you or tell you what to do next. Expect to be challenged and learn how to cope with challenges. Take responsibility for being successful. Focus and concentrate on your studies. Develop exam taking strategies. Make sure your professors know your name. Go to class and do assignments on time. Monitor your own progress and take appropriate action.
3. Know where to get help, advising and college success resources.
Colleges have resources to help students with academics, writing, career counseling and even psychology/life challenge counseling. Know where those services are being offered. Go meet the people in those offices. Also, don’t underestimate the power of faculty office hours.
4. Get to know faculty, staff and administration.
Students should set a goal to meet and develop a rapport with their instructors, other faculty, staff and an administrator or two. Faculty will likely help students better understand courses and administrators can help students better understand how to navigate through campus obstacles. Staff members who are in the field of a student’s major also may have knowledge about internships that may be helpful.
5. Make good decisions, then be patient.
Manage time wisely, maintain discipline in your living and learning development and be patient. Things will fall into place. “After all, college is a place where one is expected to change study habits, reduce extracurricular activities, deal with the vulnerability of not performing well in courses – all while others are placing upon them new expectations.