Five ways tutors can help students prepare for their first year of college.
The transition to college can be a very difficult and confusing time for first year students. High school entails a good amount of hand holding and structure, with teachers frequently checking in and a consistent daily schedule. College is often the first time students are responsible for managing themselves both personally and academically, and current high schools generally don’t prepare them for this new environment. As a tutor, you have the unique ability to help your students by equipping them with relevant skills and familiarizing them with the new changes they’re likely to see on campus. What’s the best way to do this? Here are five concepts you can work on in your pre-college sessions to support their big leap.
Time management. One of the most jarring changes a student experiences when transitioning into college is the flexible schedule and lack of structure. Students are suddenly faced with much more free time that they are now responsible for managing. Professors provide assignment due dates on the syllabus during the first meeting of class and assume students can keep up with dates on their own. Many have a difficult time getting work completed and properly pacing, resulting in low grades that aren’t reflective of their true potential. Tutors can make this transition much smoother by working with clients on time management skills. For example, practice making and setting routines and how to create effective to do lists. You can find more ideas in this post as well.
Study skills. Equipping your student with the skills needed to effectively study on their own is a great way to support their college transition. In high school, students are often provided study guides or support from teachers, but preparing for exams in college is a whole different ballgame. As a tutor, you can set your students up for success by spending time on test taking strategies unique to college. Learning how to extract material from lectures and spacing out subject review over time are both unfamiliar skills, and there is a much greater focus on long-form writing on exams. Discuss these differences with your students prior to their arrival on campus to ensure there are no big surprises.
Schedule mapping. Jumping into college without scheduling guidance can create problems for freshman students. It can be beneficial to collaborate with your students on their first class schedule. Especially if you’ve worked with the student over a period of time, you know their working style and can help identify potential red flags with their agenda. Consider their strengths and weaknesses in terms of both school work and non-academic characteristics to help them map an ideal course schedule.
Course preparation. If your student already knows their major or is headed to college to study a specific subject, you can help them get a head start on the subject matter. Try and find out if a syllabus from a current or previous class is already available and, if so, work on a material overview so your student can dive into the course well prepared. If your student is still undecided on their major, try and find information about standard freshman classes at their school and plan some sessions around those topics.
Discussion practice. Instead of focusing on right-or-wrong problems during your sessions, engage in academic discussion with your student. In college, there is a clear shift of focus toward discussion and debate in classes, and it can be difficult and uncomfortable for students who haven’t had any practice in that area. Even if your subject is less discussion-oriented, try finding ways to incorporate theory-type debates into your time spent together. It will greatly benefit your student to practice with abstract thought as well.
A student’s transition into college is always going to feel new and unfamiliar, but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. As a tutor, you know your students and their learning style, and are equipped to assist them in preparing for their college experience. By helping acquaint students with the different test-taking environment, the need for self-management, and other common college features, your student can have a smoother and more enjoyable transition into their first year.
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