Constance C. Relihan, one of Student Success’s lead advisors has these useful tips for your students to get the most out of their academic experience. Do please also refer to tips 1-6, posted last week.
- Follow directions
If you get an email telling you that you need to submit a form or piece of information by a specific deadline, do it. There will probably be consequences you won’t like if you don’t, and there will be no one to blame but yourself. When a course syllabus provides directions on how to complete an assignment, follow them.
- Be familiar with the policies that govern your education.
Your institution will probably have a Student Policy ehandbook and a regular bulletin containing the rules governing your academic curriculum and graduation requirements, as well as important academic policies like the university’s Attendance Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, and Student Academic Grievance Policy. Take a moment to scan over those documents.
- Remember that all the rules apply to you.
Honestly, it is true. No matter what your major, how high your GPA, how nice you are, or how unique you feel you are, all of your institution’s academic policies, all of the rules on the syllabi you receive, all of the deadlines posted in the Bulletin or in emails you receive apply to ALL students.
- Don’t assume that a faculty member or administrator will do something for you unless they have specifically said that they would. This is especially important where course enrollments and money are involved.
The wise student will confirm by in-person office visit, phone, or email that someone is going to register them for a class, apply a refund to an ebill, or change a registration PIN. And once the wise student has confirmed it is going to be done, they will wait a day or two and then check (by reviewing their account or their schedule or registration status) to see that the desired action has occurred. No staff member would intentionally fail to follow through, but it is smart to make sure for yourself. Don’t try to make your parents do it. It’s time for you to take on that adult responsibility.
If you are receiving federal loans or VA benefits, be sure you know the policies governing the award of those funds. If you are receiving scholarships from the University or a college (scholarships may be awarded at the University, College or departmental level), read the emails you will receive explaining the policies governing them. If you have questions, contact the individual who sent the email to resolve the issue. Generally students must be enrolled in 12 semester hours (the federal full-time student definition) each term that they are receiving the scholarships or federal loans. Most scholarships require that recipients be full-time students in order to help make sure that the university’s limited academic scholarship funds are directed toward the students who need them the most.
- If you have a problem, start at the lowest administrative level to try to solve it.
It is usually easiest to solve a problem directly. For instance, if you don’t understand a grade earned on an assignment you submitted, ask the professor to discuss it with you promptly after receiving the grade. If you continue to believe the grade was inappropriate after your discussion with the faculty member, then contact their department chair, and then the dean. Trying to bypass the chain of command will just slow down the process of achieving resolution and may well antagonize the folks whose heads you went over.
- Listen to and learn from the wide range of individuals on our campus.
One advantage of choosing to attend a large, public, land-grant research university is the diversity of kinds of people you have the opportunity to meet. Regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation, religious and political beliefs, socioeconomic background, or hometown, there are individuals on campus whose background and perspectives are the complete opposite of yours. (There are even people on our campus who don’t like football!) Take the time to talk with students, faculty, and staff who are different from you. Attend public lectures or meetings about subjects outside your comfort zone and experience. We have a lot to learn from each other.
Above all else, remember to take care of yourself and make the most of your college experience.