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HAMMOND – As a new class of freshmen enters college, their parents and others are quick to offer advice on the transition to the new environment.
But times have changed since mom and dad were in the same situation. The process of engaging with a college or university has changed drastically with the advancement of technology, as have teaching, study methods and expectations in the classroom. Most institutions offer a very general introductory course for freshmen intended to lessen the shock of transition from high school to the much different, more independent atmosphere associated with college.
Think how much easier it could be, however, to have available an "inside source" offering
tips and straight-forward advice to avoid some pitfalls so many college students fall
"College Success 101: A Professor's Insider Secrets to Help You Succeed in School" was written by David Wyld, the C.E. Laborde Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University who has been teaching at the college level since 1987. The recently published e-book, he said, is geared to "helping students have the most successful college experience possible."
His motivation for writing the 89-page online book was simple: his oldest son was beginning his first year of college.
"This is the information I wanted my own son to know," Wyld explained. "College today is the second most costly investment, other than a home, that most people will make in their lifetimes. From day one on campus, the college career is indeed a major investment that can affect the rest of your life."
The book features 24 chapters that provide advice into areas such as choosing and changing your major, devising optimal class schedules, working with technology in and out of the classroom, how to score best on tests, and the importance of developing the correct attitude. Other segments address test taking, developing presentation skills, and how students can learn from their mistakes.
Among the tips offered are:
Scheduling - While some students try to construct class schedules around the professors who will be teaching, Wyld emphasizes students should construct a schedule that fit their purposes and priorities. "Don't necessarily rely on sites that rate professors," he said. "As with any online reviews, the highs and lows will always be more prevalent than those in the middle. You have to be a bit skeptical, as the motivation of the reviewer can be very transparent for good or for bad."
Appearances – Wyld said "casual" has been redefined and can be very different from person-to-person. "Standards may have fallen just a bit too low from my perspective," he said. "What we see today from the front of the classroom is markedly different from five or 10 years ago. Most professors actively work to avoid having their own preconceptions and personal biases come into play, but appearance can be a factor in grading on a presentation or other assignments." For class presentations, Wyld emphasizes the importance of a student dressing better than he or she would if just attending class. Business casual is generally preferred.
Learning how to learn – In a world of constant, multiple distractions, Wyld sees students developing a "just in time mentality," whether it's studying for tests, working on papers or projects. He sees two aspects of studying today: the traditional "old school" approach – which requires good time management – and learning how to best use the electronic tools now readily available. "Today we have far more tech resources than ever before," he said. "E-books are wonderfully interlinked, enabling students to click on a word and instantly see the definition or be connected to tables and illustrations. That's still no excuse for putting tasks off until the 11th hour. There's no substitute for good time management."
Group projects – Getting things done through groups is a reality of life in the job market today, Wyld said. "It is imperative students learn how to be a good team member and develop experience and skills leading a group. College is perhaps the best practice field we have today for learning group skills. They're great preparation for collaborative work that characterizes the business environment of today," he explains. "And while they can be fun – I've seen two marriages come out of group work – they can also be problematic. Too often, good students find themselves 'carrying the load' out of self-interest in protecting their grade." He said there are times in group projects when things go really bad. "As a professor, I'm not in the 'group therapy' business, and I like to see students work matters out among themselves. However, if there is a real problem, it should be brought to the attention of the professor in person not by e-mail."
When a crisis hits – Accidents, illnesses and family emergencies happen to everyone. Wyld said the best
advice in these situations is also the simplest: be honest. "Approach your professor
with the situation, and – if possible – have documentation ready and offer it to him
or her. Since you're asking for help and understanding, be reasonable in your accommodation
request. It is not a way to get out of assignments, deadlines or tests, but when emergencies
do arise, in most cases your professors can be surprisingly human."
"College Success 101" is published by Smashwords.com.