Teaching the Successes to College

The third post in my initial series is a conclusion to the First Year Experience.  I so far have introduced thoughts about New Student Orientation, and Welcome Week.  This third part is about what happens when the school year starts.   Many universities, including my own institution, provides a class for students to take in the first semester.  This class, which I am going to call First Year Seminar, is supposed to teach students the successes to being a college student.

Some of these successes are topics like note taking, studying, and how to do research.  And while these topics are sometimes not the favorites of the students in the classroom, they are necessary.   I have helped to teach a couple of these seminars.  Following up with my students in later years, the biggest thing they have said was how beneficial covering topics like that were.  They said that college is a huge step from high school.  At the same time, it was these students that gave me the most problems in the classroom on days like this.

So the bigger questions is: does teaching success skills like the one's mentioned above need to be so painful for students in the class?  Looking back and now looking forward as a hopeful professional in this area of higher education, I know now that the answer is no.

Creativity in lessons can go very far when working with students.  Half of the battle in most cases is trying to have he students buy in to the importance.  One solution among many, is to incorporate their other classes into this seminar class.  Another is the style of class.  Having a theme or a key issues that the class has to solve over the course of the semester can help when addressing different lessons over the course of the semester.

One thing that I think that every instructor would hate to hear is that their class was not beneficial.  When discussing retention at any level, one of the questions that may come up is, "Are our students prepared to succeed?"  This preparedness starts their first year.  Between learning about the university and making friends in the first two programs,  First Year Seminar brings it home with preparedness to get it done in the classroom.

What at your university helps get students prepared?