Student Support and Guidance
PTE 401 Student Support and Guidance has been a great guide for us as teachers and as students. By using a book aimed at new college students we are taking a step back to put us in the shoes of a new student. Unless you know where the person is coming from it is hard to help them. As teachers, we will be providing support and guidance to students and we need to remember what it was like to be that new student on a college campus.
Each campus is a little different but the general support structure is the same. Students need to get familiar with the campus map and learn where the offices are that they will need to visit. As a student it is a good idea to sign up for a campus tour. Some colleges have special orientation sessions prior to the start of campus so that students can transition and start to feel comfortable with their surroundings. I’ve even heard of colleges providing a scavenger hunt for students to get them to search out where support offices and resources are on campus.
Goals and Support
Defining goals is sometimes the hardest first step. If that is the case, think bigger. Define yourself. What is your personal mission statement? Make a broad goal, then start refining it based on your interests, values and skills. There will always be obstacles as you work toward your goals. Plan ahead and build a support system of family, friends, teachers, counselors, tutors, a church or community groups. By planning for who to turn to in tough times you will know from the start that you are not alone in this journey.
Time and Energy
It takes time to prepare, study, restudy, learn and do assignments. Do not underestimate the amount of time it will take you to do something. Be prepared for class and look over material as soon as possible. Read assignments early and ask questions to clarify what the expectation is for a successful assignment. Think about why the assignment was made and what your learning outcomes are for the assignment.
By planning and scheduling your study time, class time, travel time, work, sleep, and some time for relaxation and exercise, you can be more prepared for when you have conflicting priorities. Just make sure you know which priority takes precedence. Don’t get distracted by things that take away from quality study time, or quality personal time. If there
never seems to be enough time. Write down what you do for at least 3 days to a week. When you become conscious of how you spend your time you can plan for using it more wisely.
Relationships and Diversity
Relationships with your instructors, classmates, friends and family are important and will need a little of your time to cultivate to maintain strength. However, having coffee and conversation for 30 minutes may be a better choice than going to a 2 hour movie that doesn’t allow you to connect in meaningful ways. College is a place that draws people with diverse social, physical abilities, ages, economic, cultural, racial, ethnic, gender and sexual preference backgrounds. This is a time to learn about others and their life experiences. Be kind and respectful of everyone. And ask politely about them and their life, beliefs and values. You’ll never have a better opportunity than on a college campus to learn from such a diverse group of people.
People are not just born with study skills. These are skills that need to be practiced and used and refined. Study skills include listening, note taking and reading. Listening sounds easy but actively listening for important content takes practice. Note taking is more than writing down everything the teacher says or writes on the board. Notes are helpful for discerning what information is important. Review your notes right after class and ask questions to fill-in spots that weren’t clear. There are several systems for notetaking that may make it easier to review and study from your notes. The Cornell system is one of the systems that allows you to write notes, identify questions and summarize during review all on one page.
All this studying and review will hopefully create learning if you can remember the material. There are several ways we can make remembering easier. Mnemonic devices are clues we give ourselves of words and phrases that stand for important information. Other memory practices like chunking, we have learned and used almost without thinking about it when we remember telephone numbers. More sophisticated methods are the roman room which take practice but allows you to remember a large amount of information with great detail.
Information Literacy, Research and Writing
One of the greatest things about the internet is that information on almost any subject can be found within seconds. Learning what is a reliable source of information takes some time and requires you to analyze several things. Who provided the information, what are their credentials? Where the information was published and is that source recognized for accurate information? What was the purpose of the article? Was it to persuade you to take a side or change a belief? Was it to inform you or entertain you? Understanding these things is information literacy. Information literacy is important to conduct research and write scholarly papers for classes. Be sure to find out what the purpose of the paper assignment is and write with the tone, style and language required for the audience and purpose.
Making healthy choices is more than just eating well, sleeping and getting exercise. It also involves how you handle stress. A little stress is a good thing and can be a motivator. Too much stress can be detrimental to mental, emotional and physical health. Everyone is different in how they handle stress. Know when to ask for help from a counselor and take time for relaxation, yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Planning ahead can help diminish the causes of stress that occur from work, school and family demands. Learn from your past history. If you know you are a slow reader or tend to over schedule obligations, take a step back and plan extra time or limit the number of activities you take on.
Planning the Next Step
Evaluating your goals and accomplishments is part of moving forward and planning the next steps. Be sure to check requirements that are needed for accomplishing your goal.
Degree requirements may have hidden prerequisites or classes that are only scheduled once a year. Be sure to meet with an adviser when selecting classes and look for the yearly class schedule to make sure you don’t end up spending a couple quarters waiting for a class to be taught.
Financial planning is important for your time at college and preparing for life after college. Don’t pick up bad habits with credit just because it is offered to you as a college student. Bad money decisions you make in college can follow you for ten years and prevent you from getting employment, a car and housing. Good financial decisions will help you pave your way to your goals and provide for your future retirement.
Preparing for Career and Life
College or career training is very important to reach your goals and potential but it is not real life. College prepares you with skills and knowledge and teaches how to think. College is a great atmosphere for meeting people and making connections. Make sure you build relationships with instructors and staff. These are the people that will be able to help you make connections in the business world and provide references for your character and quality of work. Joining professional organizations and community service organizations is a way to network and further your career by becoming known by community and business leaders. Work with the career center to develop your resume and cover letters and practice interviewing skills. As you look for work be flexible and look for positions that have potential to grow within the company or that may provide valuable experience. When in question about the fit of a job, check in with your personal mission statement, values and beliefs. A paycheck doesn’t make up for compromising who you truly are.