College can be intimidating and overwhelming. You have no idea what to expect. You are worried how will you get through your freshman year. This guide should help answer some of your questions.
Jason and Emily share some experiences from their first year of college with high school students who are visiting the campus with their guidance counselor (from Kent State).
(adapted from UC Santa Cruz)
In most instances, people experience greater success when they know what to expect. In college, expect to find the following:
The Need for Critical Thinking Skills
You will be expected to understand and remember what you read. You will also be asked to draw conclusions, form opinions, and evaluate the ideas of others.
Strong Emphasis on Tests and Less Busywork, less Time in Class and More Emphasis on Independent Study
Students who succeed do their assignments and keep up with their reading. You are expected to do most of your learning on your own. The general rule is: For every one hour you spend in class, you should spend two hours out of class reading, studying, and completing assignments.
The Need for Personal Responsibility & Consequences
In college, you have a tremendous amount of freedom. No one is monitoring your progress. You are responsible for your own academic progress and for meeting Canisius' academic standards. Students may be placed on academic probation if their grades fall below a certain point. Students on probation may be withdrawn from the school if their grades do not improve.
Attend every class If you want to succeed and become a more active learner, you must attend every class-- not almost every class, EVERY class. The importance of regular class attendance cannot be emphasized enough. When you miss classes, you miss lectures, notes, class discussions, homework explanations, and assignments. You may also miss in-class quizzes and even tests. Be prepared for every class. Be on-time and take good notes.
Manage your time
You will need to develop time management skills. A planner or a time management calculator may be a good idea.
How to read a textbook (from UC Santa Cruz)
When you know how to read a textbook, you are able to comprehend and remember what you read.
Textbook authors have already done a lot of your work for you. They’ve inserted boldface subtitles that tell you exactly what you are going to be reading. They’ve put all of the important words in bold or italic print, and they’ve added pictures, charts, graphs, lists of vocabulary words, summaries, and review questions. The textbook authors have done all of this to make it easier for you to learn and retain information.
In this section, you will discover how to use these “learning tools”. You will also learn how to 1)Scan, 2)Read, and 3)Review. Once you understand how to scan, read, and review, you’ll be able to comprehend and remember what you read in a textbook the first time through.
Scanning gives you a quick overview of the materials you’re going to read. To scan, read the title, the subtitles, and everything in bold and italic print. Look at all of the pictures, graphs, charts, and read the introduction, the review questions, and the summary.
Scanning provides you with a great deal of information in a very short amount of time. In addition to providing you with an excellent overview of the text, scanning also provides you with a kind of “information framework”. Having this framework of main ideas, vocabulary words, etc. makes it easier for you to read and understand the more detailed information.
When your reading has a purpose, your comprehension improves, it’s easier to stay focused, and you can identify important information. To give your reading a purpose, try turning each boldface subtitle into a question. Keep your question in mind as you continue to read. At the end of each section, see if you can answer it. Your question gives you something specific to look for, and helps keep your mind from wandering. Therefore, you can remember more of what you read.
Before you start to read a section, look to see if there are any vocabulary words, names, places, or events in bold or italic print, and then ask yourself, “Why is this word, person, place, or event important?” You should, of course, have an answer to that question when you finish reading the section.
Most students, after having scanned and read the material, will say, “I’m done,” and then they will close their book. Taking a few extra minutes for review, however, will make a huge difference in what you are able to remember later. When you review, you lock the information into your brain before it has a chance to evaporate.
To review, go back to the beginning and go through the same process you did when you scanned the material. This time, as you read the boldface subtitles, briefly restate the purpose of the point of the section to yourself using your own words. As you look at the vocabulary word and the words in bold or italic print, think about what they mean and why they are significant. If you really want to lock the information into your brain, review everything again a day or two later. When you sit down to study for the test, you’ll be amazed at how well you already know the material.
While it may take a little practice to get the scan, read, review process down, you’ll soon realize that this process does not mean more work. It just means better comprehension, better retention, and academic success.
High School Writing vs. College Writing (from Temple University Writing Center)
First-year college students nearly always struggle with the transition from high school writing to college writing. Often, this struggle occurs because college professors have different expectations regarding structure and argument that are usually found in high schools. College writing differs most significantly from high school writing in the following ways:
In high school, you may have been taught to construct five-paragraph essays and other short forms of writing. College writing sometimes uses the five-paragraph essay as a starting point, but often pushes students to break out of the limits imposed by such a rigid structure. This introduction-three-supporting-points-conclusion strategy simply isn't practical for all assignments. If you feel comfortable with the five-paragraph format, use it to start out with, but be prepared to explore alternative strategies if and when necessary.
In high school, you may have learned to include a thesis statement in your papers, usually somewhere near the end of the first paragraph. Most college writing also depends on thesis statements, but they may look very different from the statements you are used to seeing and writing. A typical high school thesis statement might look like this: In this paper, I will discuss Abigail Williams' motive in The Crucible. A typical college thesis, on the other hand, might look more like this: In The Crucible, Abigail Williams denounces Elizabeth Proctor and other women from her village in an attempt to win John Proctor for herself. As you can see, the sample college thesis statement sets up a specific argument and takes a position on that argument. In addition, it gives the reader some warning regarding the kind of evidence to expect in the remainder of the paper. Readers will expect, at a minimum, information about the relationship between Abigail and John, between Elizabeth and John, and between Abigail and Elizabeth.
A research paper in high school might have involved collecting information from Yahoo! or Google and re-presenting that information in a book-report format: research for research's sake. College research papers are nearly always argument-based: you collect evidence in order to make a point, not just to prove that you found five sources. Moreover, college papers require a different level of source material. While the Internet can be a great research tool, college students need to learn the difference between unreliable "free web" sources and more reliable "fee web" sources. Anything the library pays for through subscription service is generally an acceptable research source. Books and peer-reviewed journals are even better.
Though it varies by professor, most college papers are typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins all around. They are usually in 12-point font, either Times New Roman or Arial. Unless professors specifically ask for one, papers are usually submitted without a cover page; similarly, college papers rarely include plastic binders and other types of folders. Graphics, such as charts or clipart, are sometimes permitted, but they should be professional looking and do not count as page space.