Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2017

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Eight tips for incoming freshmen to succeed in college


Leila Navidi

Alana Solomon, 18, a freshman from Las Vegas, gets ready to move into Tonopah Complex with her father Paul during residence hall move-in day at UNLV in Las Vegas on Thursday, August 23, 2012. Solomon is a CCSD housing scholarship recipient.

Thousands of college students will return to area campuses over the next few weeks, marking the start of another academic year.

UNLV is expecting its largest freshman class — members of the class of 2018. Some will be the first in their family to attend college.

To prepare students for the transition from high school to college, UNLV administrators have been busy this summer playing host to more than a dozen freshman orientation sessions.

Incoming freshmen took campus tours, met with advisers and peers, and registered for fall semester classes. Parents also had their own orientation, where they learned how they could support their children through college. Along the way, students and parents learned the Rebels' fight song and various university traditions.

Here, compiled from UNLV's orientation session, are eight tips for incoming freshmen to succeed in college:

Enroll in class full time. Full-time college students who are enrolled in at least 15 credit hours per semester are more likely to graduate from college than part-time students. That's because students who have school as their primary commitment are less likely to get driven off track by work and other commitments. UNLV officials recommend students try to work as close to campus as possible because work-study jobs are often more accommodating of college exam schedules.

Go to class consistently. Students who attend their lectures, labs and discussion sections are more likely to ace exams and pass the class. Unlike high school teachers, college professors may not take attendance and compel students to attend lectures — it's incumbent on students to show up and keep up with classwork. Lectures are often where professors “give away” the answers to exams and papers.

Build and maintain good study and life habits. For many students, going away to college represents freedom from the structure of home and high school. In college, there are no curfews and no parents to wake students and ensure they are eating properly. Students who have good study and life habits are more likely to succeed in college.

Choose a major and try to stick with it. College is a time of experimentation and the broadening of intellect. However, research shows students who choose a major by their sophomore year are more likely to graduate in a timely fashion than those who switch majors multiple times. This isn't to say students can't switch majors, but it is a warning that switching directions can often delay graduation.

Consult an academic adviser and follow your degree plan. For young students, choosing classes from a course catalog can be an exciting yet daunting task because there are so many offerings. Because of their first-year status, freshmen may be shut out of smaller classes. As a result, UNLV officials strongly suggest freshmen meet with their academic adviser regularly to determine what classes to take to graduate on time.

Get involved in college. The majority of students at UNLV commute to school, which makes it difficult sometimes to create new relationships with peers. While it's good to maintain high school friendships, UNLV officials strongly encourage students to remain on campus as long as they can and make new friends in college. Students who are involved in campus activities are more likely to graduate with a network of friends who can help jump-start their careers, whether it's starting a small business or a job referral down the line.

Get to know your professors. UNLV administrators encourage students to build relationships with professors and faculty that could help them not only graduate but launch their careers. Unlike high school, where teachers often diagnose struggling students in need of help, college students are responsible for seeking assistance. Students should take advantage of professors' office hours, not only for help on assignments and exams, but to find a mentor who can coach students through their college and career.

Talk with your parents. For many students, college will be the first time away from their parents for an extended period of time. Some students may feel homesick. Others may struggle in class and just need a listening ear to vent or cry. Other students are more independent, but there will be times when they will seek help — whether it's taking care of laundry over Thanksgiving or help paying rent. Keeping in touch with parents and guardians will help students succeed in college. UNLV officials also recommend that parents share their expectations for their children before heading off to college. Discussion topics to consider include health insurance and immunizations, job expectations, use of the family car and sharing of grades with parents.

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