Going to college can be a difficult transition from any perspective. Whether it is the challenges of class work or a new social atmosphere, both commuter and resident students can feel the pressures of a demanding world that they have never experienced before.
However, this change can be made easier with the support of the institution by better acquainting the students with their new campus and resources.
St. John’s University attempts to aid new students with the shift from one level of education to another, though there is room for improvement. From the orientation, to the Freshman Center, to the Office of Financial Aid, the University can afford to tweak certain aspects of each program to better prepare students with the functions of the academia.
Orientation, which takes place during the summer, introduces the campus setting, and provides an opportunity to meet other students. However, there should be more effort made on the part of the Freshman Center to reach out to the students at this time. Although it may be improbable for the counselors to see the students for the duration of orientation, contact should be made prior to the beginning of the semester as it is easy to neglect making appointments once the students are swept up by coursework and a new social scene.
The opportunity for the students to meet the counselors before the semester starts is available. However, students are usually urged to see them only if there are problems with the student’s program or scholastic situation.
If the pupil does not have any problems, the initial meeting with the counselor will most likely not take place until two weeks to a month into the first semester. Having the first meeting before the sometimes overwhelming experience of the initial weeks of school could offer an opportunity for both counselors and students to discuss future plans and what to expect for the upcoming year.
Another adjustment can certainly be made in the financial aid process, or rather the functions in understanding loans, grants and award information. Although this is largely the responsibility of their high school college counselors and parents, many students are left to fester at the lines of Bursar or Financial Aid, attempting to figure out what went wrong with their awards.
The resulting realization is that many of the new University students are teenagers who are just learning the process of dealing with credit cards and bank accounts, young adults that are not aware of the procedures that involve loans and other responsibilities that come with finances. Literature must be provided to reach beyond the simple answers packet and give a step by step instruction of what students need to do to avoid frustration in December.
An attempt to assist the incoming freshmen must also be made during orientation to provide the option of one on one help from staff members or representatives of financial aid. It may not be possible to have a simple solution to the problem, but more can certainly be done on the part of the University to ease the confusion.
Instead of waiting a half hour via telephone for a five minute answer, students would now be able to meet workers of each respective office in an effort to provide freshmen with quick and clear answers to their many inquiries.
It is important to keep in mind that responsibility is a major characteristic in the college experience, one that is built over time not granted over night.
It is not the duty of the University to coddle the students, but to simply make their freshman year a smooth first step in their evolution.