According to American College Testing (ACT), one in four college students will drop out before completing their sophomore year and nearly half of freshmen will drop out before getting their degree or completing their education elsewhere. There are several reasons for these drop outs, and one of them is that few students are really prepared for the challenges that college life presents and do not receive the necessary guidance they need to continue their college education.
Freshmen Seminar and similar courses are ideal for educating freshmen about the new rigors of college life, but at the same time they are often seen as “blow off” classes by
many students. Because of this, there are several other steps that colleges need to take in order to ensure they are properly educating students and providing them the motivation they need to continue their education.
If students are falling through the cracks due to grades and course work, this is often due to a lack of proper academic advising. Academic advisors should be professors who are able to get to know each of their students as people and should understand the degree plan that student is following. For instance, if a student is majoring in Agribusiness, then their advisor should be from that department and should be familiar with the degree requirements. Far too many students are simply sent to counseling offices where they are run through the mill and the advisor doesn’t have an intimate understanding of their degree. This can be a frustrating situation for a student as these advisors don’t understand the course requirements and often misguide students. When students are misguided in their advising, they often end up taking and paying for classes that are unnecessary for their degree plan. This not only costs money, but precious time in their college careers. This occurrence tends to happen more at the community college level rather than the university level, but it is an occurrence that all colleges should be aware of.
Because many students are living on their own for the first time in their lives, there are several different types of support systems that need to be established in the college. These should not only include tutoring and study groups, but also religious and ethnic centers. The goal is for students to feel comfortable and safe at school. These centers provide a safe haven for students where they can interact with each other and provide each other with support.
Finally, students need to be motivated to continue their education and persist through to graduation. One method that colleges can utilize to encourage this motivation is to get students involved academically and socially. The more students are engaged and involved, the more likely they are to continue their education. This not only means engaging with other students, but also with the faculty and staff. Although students should be engaged, it is important that they are not pressured into joining clubs or participating in extra activities. Many students simply cannot make this happen as they commute and work in addition to going to school. This often leaves their free time very limited for extra engagement, so it is important that faculty and students are engaged in the classroom as well.
By ensuring that students are receiving good advice, developing relationships with their professors and other students, a college is able to make large steps in their college retention numbers. At this stage in life, freshmen need knowledgeable guidance and need to feel as though they are a part of the college community. When provided that guidance and support, students will often find the motivation they need to continue on with their education each year.
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