First Year of College?


Help your college student stay on course.

By Tracy Leigh Ritts

 Transitioning to college from high school is rife with stress and worries for both parents and students.  Helping your child stay on course throughout his first year is a concern many parents have.

What can you do to assist your college-bound child?  First of all, communicate with your teenager – what are they really worried about?  If they are completely focused on academics, remind them that all that’s truly expected of them is the following:
  1. Go to class consistently and on time,
  2. Do their work, including homework, reading, and spend time studying,
  3. Look for assistance if they need it, when they need it.

The above will help your child achieve the academic success she wants to achieve while in college. It’s when students veer off from the above that they may face poor grades and possible failure. By showing your student these three basics, their worries should simplify. After all, it looks simple enough – right?  Of course, there is much more to why some students succeed and others don’t.   

College is a completely new learning environment and it takes some time to adjust.  First year students are, probably for the first time in their lives, completely independent. They can make choices about whether they’ll attend class or not, they can decide if they want to study or go to a party, and while they are making these decisions, they are meeting new people, learning their way around campus, and acclimating themselves to an entirely new way of life. It can be extremely confusing.

Many students find their first college year to be a time of exploration and learning, and they may even see a decrease in their educational performance. It’s important to understand that this is normal. Luckily, most students quickly figure out what they need to do in order to survive and be successful in the college environment.

Empahsize to your child the importance of asking for help when they need it. This assistance can come from faculty, advisors, peers, and of course, from you. Let them know that you understand the difficulties of learning a new environment, and that you support them.

The key word here is "support." College students need to make their own mistakes. Your job is to guide them when they are picking up the pieces, not do it for them.

Your student can succeed in college! Help him or her along the way, and even a difficult first year can be the beginning of a rich, enjoyable, and successful college career.


Tracy Leigh Ritts is a freelance writer based in Ohio. Her book, How to Plan Your Own Wedding and Save Thousands…Without Going Crazy.