August 20, 2013

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>> “We like to tell students and their families that it’s all about finding the right fit,” says Amanda Paulus, Enrollment Management and Student Services Advisor of Kent State University at Stark.

According to Paulus, this means getting onto college campuses early and visiting often, as well as arranging to meet with an admissions counselor, having a guided tour of campus and, if possible, talking with faculty.

“It’s not until you’re walking the halls and greens of campus that you truly get a sense for the environment that you will be investing in.” she says.

Sarah Bishop, a graduate from The University of Akron and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pittsburgh, says parents should know that the first year at college is often the most difficult, and students are often forced to learn through trial and error. Having an empathetic parent during this time can make students aware that mistakes are part of the process and reminds them that someone’s in their corner, even when the right path isn't clear.

“Parents often feel anxious about sending their kids off to college for the first time, but sometimes it's less obvious that the students are feeling insecure themselves,” Bishop says. “A parent's calm influence during the process can make a huge difference.”

Things are going to change for your teenager whether you like it or not. Their newborn freedom may come to haunt them in the long run. Bishop, who has also worked as an adjunct professor at Kent State University, strongly recommends that first-time students prepare to be their own motivators.

“No one forces them to get out of bed in the morning, and instructors won't come looking for them if they don't attend class,” she says. “But this freedom often becomes a detriment when students realize they're behind and aren't sure what to do about it.”

>> It’s important to come prepared when picking the right college. Students should make a list of what they hope to get out of their visit and see if the school meets those expectations. They should explore every inch of the university so they have plenty of reasons to make a final decision.

“Choosing the right school is never about a single characteristic, but rather making sure that the big picture fits together well and is appealing as a whole,” Bishop says.

One of the most crucial things a first-time student should find is a healthy middle-ground between school and social endeavors. Some students walk a thin line between the two during their first few semesters on campus.  

August 20, 2013