Education Specialist (EdS)
Semester of Degree Completion
Paul D. Overton
Statement of Problem:
There are many reasons why a youth goes to college and there are many reasons why first semester freshmen do not pass the first semester. As a student personnel worker your job is to screen these students and find out a little about them, so some sort of program can be organized. Of course, there are advisement centers and Guidance and Counseling Programs at most colleges, but how effective these programs are remains to be seen.
It is essential to understand the first semester freshman from the first day they come riding into college on a sea of new adjustments and problems. The problems they will face will be many. Inherent problems, as well as problems caused by others, will complicate their lives. Feelings of inferiority, guilt, confusion over sex, problems growing out of efforts for emancipation from the family, thereby giving rise to a series of secondary problems.
By keeping the first semester freshman in mind and some of his/her problems, guidelines for the student personnel workers will be presented. Although the new freshmen may not agree with every procedure in the handbook, the guidelines will give them direction for their education. Some information needed for this type of project will come from references from books and college manuals. The material found in the following pages is a sample handbook that could be utilized by a college or university. Some information used will be existing policy and procedures already being used by most colleges. But by modifying those, there will be a basis from which to begin construction of a handbook. . .along with information provided by administrators and faculty members. Information was also received from discussing college experiences with current and past students.
Those first semester freshmen who follow the methods outlined in this handbook may or may not know as much material as some people who read every book mentioned in their academic career. Since most classes start from scratch in their learning process, the most important thing is staying in the class. The first semester freshman may not realize it, but the new freshman has learned a lot more than they think. One of the most valuable things is that the new semester freshman learns how to use a system. So what, one may say, Good Lord! Listen, government is a system, law is a system, and so is life.
The most important thing to be able to say when one has finally finished dealing with the educational system is that, I made it through.
Recruitment - Admissions counselors on their visits to high schools should go over the handbook rather than just passing them out. Students are often put off by all the words and terms they do not understand. A verbal explanation with the handbook would make them familiar with the material while someone was there to answer questions.
Any steps to help the new freshman get over the newness of college life must be taken. The handbook along with more clearly defined registration procedures, should make the new freshman more confident as he becomes acquainted with the campus. These measures would also ease parents' minds and make them more supportive of educational institutions.
One definite recommendation would be for all freshmen to live in dorms. The exceptions to this were outlined in the previous pages. Implementing this rule would give the new freshman a type of security. This security is very important as he faces many other adjustments which will already take from his studies. To enforce this, would free him from pressures of paying monthly bills, transportation to campus, cooking his meals, trips to the grocery store, and fear from living alone. The dorm will be the closest thing to the home he has just left.
It is important to constantly improve recruitment, orientation, and registration procedures as times change. To do this, it is necessary to consult with and receive feedback from current students. Their input is extremely valuable as they will be the best advertiser for the school when they leave. If they have had a good experience at college, they will pass this on to others. Their input can be received through questionnaires, committees, and consulting with them. This information can then be used to evaluate and improve upon current practices.
Upper classmen might also be made available to freshmen as they come on campus, to sit down and discuss classes, work, and instructors. It is common knowledge that there are personality clashes between people which might be avoided if people were more aware of what is expected. These clashes can greatly affect the new freshman's ideas about college. Avoiding these conflicts might mean keeping more students from dropping out or doing poorly. These sessions between upperclassmen and freshmen may also be a sharing experience of fears to let the freshmen know that they are not alone.
Russell, Alexander B. Jr., "A Study in the Development of a Handbook for Student Personnel Workers on First Semester Freshmen" (1980). Masters Theses. 3085.