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.
||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
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
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
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
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
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!