Issues Confronting New Students
Use the following guide to anticipate times when your students may face new and perhaps stressful experiences. You may wish to maintain more frequent communication when you feel that will help. This timeline is mostly for fall term, but many events in the academic calendar are repeated in subsequent terms.
Everyone is very busy during Fall Connection (the fall orientation program) Weekend. Students appraise their new surroundings and relate to new experiences, many of which they might want to share with you by phone or email.
Classes are well underway. There may be issues developing around course demands, use of time, adequacy of study skills. Roommate conflicts may begin to emerge.
Homesickness or a sort of "culture shock" may occur with some whose life experiences are greatly different from those of other students. Value and behavior differences previously overlooked may become irritating or cause students to wonder why they are here instead of at home. The only solution is time-be supportive, allow your student time to adjust to (not necessarily to accept) these differences in others. Home visits are fine, but too many can extend the discomfort and delay adjustment.
Family Weekend is your first scheduled opportunity to visit campus and spend time with your student.
Midterm tests and papers are likely due this week. This may be the first concrete feedback your student has received from instructors. Students tend to overestimate the adequacy of their preparation, and may find test and paper grades lower than they expected. Meeting with professors, advisor contacts and the Reading/Writing Center are appropriate referrals for these types of issues.
During week 6, PUG Reports (Preliminary Unsatisfactory Grade Reports) are provided to students on Web Advisor. Only those students receiving a D, F or missing classes excessively are notified to see their professors. Ask if your student has checked Web Advisor. Also, ask if they have a meeting with their advisor scheduled to discuss registration for winter term.
Friday of week seven is the last opportunity for students to drop a course which could result in an "F." If your student is struggling, encourage him or her to seek advice from the resources listed in the academic resources section.
Students register for winter term classes. They should have already met with their advisor. Sometimes first year students do not get their first choices and experience disappointment and frustration. They should work with their advisor regarding options and continue checking the open course list.
These are the last two weeks of class before final examinations. Students will feel pressure to perform: finishing papers and projects and preparing for exams. Calls, notes, a "survival kit" of food snack items, etc. are especially welcome as finals approach.
Final examinations in all classes. Final exams may only be rescheduled for an emergency. Students leaving early for vacations, etc. risk failure. Before the week ends, students will return home or become involved in other activities of their choosing. Students in serious academic difficulty will be contacted by phone during the week following final exams.
Some students visit fraternity or sorority socials to select a group they wish to pledge during the first five weeks of spring term. This process-called Recruitment-is a major social focus for about one-third of our students. Anxieties may be raised as students seek membership, and they may wish to share these experiences with family.
Housing sign-ups occur toward the end of April. Students receive selection numbers that are randomly assigned, with preference given to seniors, then juniors, and lastly sophomores. Students will use their numbers or their roommate's number to choose from among the open rooms that are left when their number is called. This is a very stressful time for many students. Although we try to make sure that students understand that the "best" rooms will be selected by a minority of the student population, some will have their hearts set on a particular type of room or location and will be disappointed when those rooms are not open. Any help you can provide to help your student approach this process realistically will be appreciated.