What’s the hardest thing about college? Maybe you just said grades, but my answer would be freedom. For some of you it is your first time without any guardian and that can seem like the best thing ever. I’m here telling you that’s not always true. Freedom can cause so much trouble especially for first year college students. So, I am going to tell you why I feel like this is very important and how to overcome this.
First, I want to share with you some statistics about freedom and how they affect college life. According to educationaldata.org the percentage of first year college students that drop out after a year is 30%. That may not sound like a lot, but it can be when you fall within that number. Now what is the cause of these dropouts? According to Beverly Bird’s article on college students and the statics on drop out rates in 2017. She says, “Of those who must take remedial classes to get off the ground academically, 75 percent will not make it to graduation. As many as 50 percent of students who must take introductory “weed out” courses at colleges and universities fail those courses.” Why? Normal they don’t handle the freedom that they are given well the first year. This can be because, lack of time management, discipline, or even “going wild”. Don’t worry though because through this entire passage I am going to help you make sure you don’t do those things.
Second, I want to share some stories with you about people who have almost failed because they didn’t know how to deal with their new freedom. The first person I interviewed didn’t want me to tell everyone his name but let me use his story. He started college in 2018, and he came from a more sheltered family. After he had been there for a few months he got kicked out, for failing. He shared with me that it wasn’t because he had tried his hardest and it wasn’t enough. It was because he had partied and didn’t even bother to check on any class while he was there. He also noted that he wasn’t coming back to college just because he doesn’t know how to manage his freedom. The second story is about a Guy named Jessie. He graduated from Morehead State University. He had a different story than the last. His family wasn’t that strict but still expected him home by a reasonable time every night. He went away to college but only struggled for the first week or so. He learned within that first week of school he needed to set some rules for himself and he did. He got a planer, made set times to get his work done, and still made time for a social life. He said, “making a schedule for life and school is the best thing you can do if you want to have good grades and still talk to your friends.” The next story I want to share is my own, I am a freshman writing this and I would be lying if I said the transition is easy. I came from more of a sheltered family who wouldn’t let me go out past 6 or7 o’clock. When I got to college everything changed, I could stay out as late as I wanted, and no one would say a thing. It was a turning point for me when I would stay up late and have to be at work by 8 then do homework the rest of the day. I would feel so bad and be so exhausted that I decided to take a step back and look at what I was doing. I knew I needed to start setting up plans for the nights and days. I got a planer and started writing down assignments and when they were due. That way I got them done and made sure I turned them in, on time, even if it was 11:59 when I hit the submit button. I even made a set time to go to bed so I could still go to class, then work, then get my homework done. I was still tired at the end of the day don’t get me wrong, but I was less “dead” when I did everything.
Last thing I want to talk about is just some of the solution you can make so freedom doesn’t control you in college. Some things that you can do are, make a planner, make your own curfew, and even take a few steps back. You can get a planner almost anywhere, just take some time every week and go through what you want done and when. Chart that down on the planner but also add a block of free time so you know you will be able take breaks or just have the extra time for anything else. Then you my ask how to know what time to set your curfew. This will be different for everyone and depend on how much sleep you need to feel good for the day. For me I have to have plenty of sleep, but others may have to have less or even more. Finally, ask when is it time to take a step back? That is when you are constantly tired and are not getting your schoolwork done. All you need to do is stop and think why I am tired. Is it because I am staying out too late, running around more than I am doing homework, or am I just not trying like I should? Then find a plan to overcome it and take action, no one else will do it for you, you have to.
In conclusion you can see how freedom can try to take over your whole life at college, but you can’t let it. You can tell that if you let it, you may not get to come back the next year or every again. All you have to do is the simple three things: make a planer, make your own curfew, and take a step back when it is necessary. I know so many people who use these things that pass college and end up coming back the next year. So, I hope you find this useful while starting your first year and also are able to flourish and accomplish your dreams and great things.
Bird, Beverly. “What Percentage of College Students Fail Their First Semester?” The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey, 26 Sept. 2017, www.theclassroom.com/percentage-college-students-fail-first-semester-7610.html.
Bustamante, Jaleesa. “College Dropout Rate : by Year + Demographics.” EducationData, 06 Nov. 2019, educationdata.org/college-dropout-rates.
Skogerboe, Liz. “Balance Freedom and Responsibility in College – College Raptor.” College Raptor Blog, 7 Oct. 2020, http://www.collegeraptor.com/find-colleges/articles/tips-tools-advice/balance-freedom-responsibility-college/.