What a summer! And I’ll let you in on a little secret to boot: we are rapidly approaching a very important date in my life, my birthday. I don’t know about you all, but birthdays always make me reflective about the past. Ten years ago this summer, I was in your students’ shoes. Preparing, with great fear and trepidation, for my first months of college, for the inevitable screw-ups and foibles. I can’t recall too much, but I do recall that the only two things I promised myself about college were that I was going to work my butt off and that I was going to keep asking every stupid question that popped into my head until I got the answer I needed to move forward. Both of these policies served me well, in college and in life.
What has your student promised himself or herself about the college experience? What do you sense s/he is committed to? What are the unshakable personal characterisitics that your student will rely on in college?
As your student prepares for fall, a lot of things will surprise him/her, no matter how much you’ve prepared. But here, I can give you the inside scoop about things to be ready for.
Scheduling—Students fresh out of HS are accustomed to very structured days in which every chunk of learning is divided into neat little increments. No matter where you go, college just isn’t like that. Their classes will not be scheduled back to back, and they’ll only be every other day (or maybe even once a week). The result of this change is that students must take independent initiative for the majority of their educational process. Your student will need to plan out up to six hours daily to read, study, and research. That’s the hard part. While it’s scary, it’s this defining change that makes a mere student into a true scholar.
Professors—Professors at Bellarmine are highly-educated scholars themselves. As a student, I used to say that I learned more in the hallway than I did in the classroom. Clearly, that was an exaggeration, but what I meant by it was that a truly valuable and wonderful part of my educational experience took place when I took the time to stop them in hallways, pop in their offices, ask about their projects, etc. But professors have lives, too. They’re not here 7:30-3:30 like HS teachers, and they won’t hunt students down to get missing homework, or give extra credit work. My point here is that the onus of responsibility is on the students to pay attention to how each professor (they’re all different) works, what s/he has to offer, and take advantage of it accordingly.
There you go! That’s my mid-summer reflection for the the day. Stay tuned next week for a another great poem about parting with your student as s/he grows up, and a special note about it from Dr. Catherine Sutton, as well as a compilation of best advice for things to do now to help your student hit the ground running in the fall.
-Jessica Hume, c/o 2005
Director of Writing and Parent Communications