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Personal Responsibility

 

Hi friends! Today’s chapter is on a topic that is very important to your success in college, Personal Responsibility. Although it is something that is very difficult to learn, the choices you make when you start to make all of the decisions in your life will influence your success in all areas of your life. The chapter includes some statistics that I’m sure you’ll find interesting, along with a little advice.  This week’s author is one of the people on our campus for whom I have the most respect. His name is Dr. Pat Murphy.
 

lance6.gif (34337 bytes) Dr. Patrick M. Murphy has been talking to Oklahoma State University students for nearly three decades. In 1979 Dr. Murphy became the director of the University Counseling Services. This department supports students by providing personal problem counseling, career services, including
helping new and undecided students choose an academic major, student disability services, and international student services. Dr. Murphy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is retired from OSU.


MAKING THE GRADE AT COLLEGE: CHOICES, STRESS AND SURVIVING YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR

There are over 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States. All are different. Yet there are also many similarities. Sorting out "the facts" and choosing the "right" college or university, one that will meet your career and personal needs and interests, always at an affordable price, is often foremost on the minds of soon-to-be graduating high school students. Truly the selection process can seem confusing, even overwhelming.

In fact choosing where you will go to receive your higher education may be the first major problem faced, with the accompanying anxiety and stress that goes with a big decision, in the high school to college transition time. Comfort can be taken by understanding that sometimes feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or worried, as examples, are normal. With some careful thoughtful planning, and follow-through, the journey from home to a successful freshman year at college can be reached. After all, over 1.5 million new freshmen will make the trip with you.

This unit is about you, the freshman year transition from family and home, and some of the issues that most freshmen face as they embark on their college career. While we’ll point out common pitfalls in the first year journey, more important are the behaviors successful new students exhibit to assure their well being, both academically and personally.

Perhaps, paradoxically, we know that freshman students arrive on campus already very stretched by the high expectations that they have for themselves. High school students know that a bachelor degree is worth money ($18,000 average annual income for high school graduates vs. $33,000 for college degree holders). In fact, three out of four of the 1996 freshman class reported that going to college was very important to them so they could make more money and get a better job. They are also optimistic. Over 50% believe that they will be satisfied with the college they choose and that they expect to achieve a "B" or better average. 

Coupled with these high expectations are many conflicts in the use of time. These conflicts represent potential pitfalls. Many of these same 1996 freshmen know that they will have to work 6-10 hours per week (50%), spent 6-10 hours each week socializing with friends in high school (25%), spent 3-5 hours partying each month (20%), drank beer or wine while partying (60%), and 1 in 4 spent 6-10 hours each high school week in exercising, watching TV, or both.

These activities in combination with high expectations about grades are a volatile mixture that can lead to tremendous stress.  Throw in the fact that you may have a roommate for the first time in your life, your classmates may be strangers at first, and the workload is tougher and the competition higher and in little time you’ll learn that managing stress is essential to get the most out of your college years.

No discussion about the transition from home to college, and the choices found in the new freshman freedom of leaving family and friends, would be complete without mentioning briefly a few additional obvious potential issues. Alcohol consumption, particularly binge drinking, is a rampant problem on most campuses today. Casual sex among students, with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases looming as real consequences, is another major issue that students face. Finally, the misuse of drugs, including legal prescription, be they tobacco, barbituates for sleep, or stimulants to aid in staying awake can sabotage academic success.

So what is the new freshman to do? Before you leave home have a plan to implement and promise or "contract" with yourself to take care of your health. To do that decide to:

Eat Right - be sure your diet is well balanced and avoids sugary snacks.

Get Plenty of Sleep - sleep needs vary by individual, but usually 7-8 hours is typical.

Exercise Regularly - the recommendation usually is to exercise at least 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes.

Take Time to Relax - relieves the tension and stress.

Learn to Manage Your Time - make and follow a daily schedule that includes priority time for classes, reading and writing assignments, exam preparation, meals, exercise, a job, and social activities.

Assert Yourself - clearly communicate what you do and don’t want out of dates, party situations, and a roommate.

Create a Budget - your income must equal or exceed your expenses.

Get Involved - participate in clubs and organizations, campus events, intramural, and religious groups.

Learn and Practice Good Study Habits - such as setting goals; learning effective reading, note taking, and test taking strategies; attending classes, completing assignments on time; and organizing your study area.

Learn About and Use Campus Resources That Can Help You - college counselors and advisors, health services, faculty, study skills assistance programs, tutors, local clergy, and other campus professionals.

No one can promise that the transition from home to the end of the freshman year will be easy. Relax and take college one step at a time. And when you arrive on campus look around. Freshman do survive - notice the large number of sophomores!

 

 

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