By: Grace A. Riley
The transition from high school to college is HARD. Way harder than we think it is. We all had adults give us the “If I had only known this when I was your age…” speech, and we probably all rolled our eyes and let our thoughts drift elsewhere. Then all ofthe sudden graduation, move-in day, and the first few weeks of classes have gone by, and you feel like you’ve barely blinked. You’re probably sitting in the library with a ton of textbooks and notes in front of you, (or you’re stress-stuffing-your-face like I do), feeling all the stress wash over you like a tsunami wave.
First, it’s important not to overstress. There’s a number of problems that every college student faces at some point, but many don’t realize their University offers a solution to almost every one. For example…
Almost every college has an established center for student learning that offers programs and assistance for students who need extra help outside the classroom. At the University of South Carolina for instance, where I attend college, we have the Student Success Center, which offers a number of resources to aid students in their academic success.
This is a program that was established for classes that experienced a high level of difficulty and fail rates. The University will hire a student who has previously received an A in that course to hold weekly sessions where you and your classmates can ask questions and receive extra help on any material you’re struggling with. The SI Instructor usually attends all classes regularly, and will hold review sessions before the exam to help the students prepare.
For one-on-one help with a difficult course, you can attend tutoring session for FREE by making an appointment with your Success Center. Similar to the Supplemental Instructor, your tutor will have received an A in the course you need help in, and will be able to provide personalized help with material, homework, and exam preparation.
The Writing Center is a place for undergraduate and graduate students to come with any pieces of writing they need assistance on, such as essays, speeches, resumes, cover letters, short stories, etc. The Peer Leaders at the Writing Center not only help you with the current writing sample you bring it, but teach you how to apply new skills to all of your future writing so that you may become self-reliant learners. As a Peer Writing and Communications Tutor at USC, I assist students in any stage of writing, from brainstorming to polishing up a paper with editing and proofing. Since many courses require a different style of writing than most students are used to from high school, this is an excellent source to learn how to write more advanced college-level papers.
Sometimes the problem isn’t with a specific class, but rather, it’s with balancing it all: going to class, doing your homework, working, attending sessions and activities. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when dealing with a multitude of obligations. That’s what Peer Consultants are for. If you are having trouble managing your finances (coming from the girl who spends way too much money on coffee) the Peer Consultants can help you manage your finances, and even assist you in searching for scholarships and financial aid! If you feel like you’ve invested hours in the library with your nose in the textbook, ripping holes in the ozone layer with the number of flashcards you’ve made, and are still not making the grades you want, the Peer Consultants are there to help you devise a study method that is right for your learning needs. PC’s are college students just like you, and have likely experienced all the troubles that you are facing now. The difference is, they’ve been through it, and they can share all of this with you.
You know you have officially reached adulthood when your advisor hits you with the “You need to start looking for an internship” spiel. This is nothing short of terrifying at first. Thankfully, there are a ton of resources on campus that will help. Internships and Co-ops not only provide an excellent and fun learning experience, but they give you a first-hand look into the life of a professional in your field. Plus, they make you a competitive candidate for the work force once you graduate. For instance, in May of 2016, University of South Carolina graduates who had an internship of co-op reported making up to $4,000 more than students who didn’t. There are also other things you can do to build your resume, such as an Independent Study with a professor researching in an area you are interested in. Or you can attend Academic Workshops, where you will receive tips and information from professionals working in your area of interest! These are all resources you can utilize; just visit your college’s Student Success Center, or shoot your advisor an email mentioning these things, and they will point you in the right direction.
I hope this offered some assistance and assurance for all you fellow college students out there who are struggling in some way, shape, or form. Just know that these resources are easier to utilize than you may think, and they can ultimately end up making a huge difference. There’s even more out there than I have mentioned, but these are good starting points to help lead you in the right direction in your academic career. Good luck!