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Parent Newsletter article – Fall 2013, Issue 1

Research has suggested that students experience five stages of college transition (Honeymoon, Culture Shock, Initial Adjustment, Mental Isolation, and Acceptance/Integration).  As students move from the initial “everything is exciting and wonderful” to “wow, this is not what I expected” and through “I’m not sure where I feel completely at home anymore,” they will eventually come to feel that “Penn College is my home.”  However, while going through these stages, it can be hard on a parent to know how to help them adjust.  Below are some questions (and a few suggestions) to have with your student during this time of adjustment.

How are you adjusting to a college schedule?  Your student is getting accustomed to a very different schedule from high school. Classes at Penn College are typically offered in a Monday/Wednesday/Friday, or Tuesday/Thursday format.  Consequently, there may be a day (or more) between class sessions.  We encourage students to use this time wisely – balancing “free time” and academic requirements.

How is your college coursework different than your high school courses? Students will find their college courses are taught at a higher level and the depth of classroom engagement will be steeper than what was expected in high school.  In most cases, more is expected than mere “attendance.” Instructors will expect students to actively participate in classroom discussions and exercises; many factor “participation” into their grading rubric.  In a typical writing class, students can expect to submit a major paper every three weeks, with several minor papers due between them. This is in addition to reading and homework assignments for their other classes.  Unless otherwise stated, independent work (homework, assignments, research papers, etc.) will be required. 

What steps have you taken to handle the amount of work you are getting? The speed at which the classroom assignments are presented (and then due) may catch some first-year students off guard. Time management plays an important role in ensuring assignments are completed thoroughly and submitted on time.  Your student should spend approximately two or three hours reading, working on homework, or studying for every one-hour of class lecture time. In addition, they should be using college resources, like the Tutoring Center or Writing Center (located in the Academic Success Center), to help with the material they are studying.

How do you like your major? For some, it may be too early to tell, but some might already be uncertain whether this is the right major for them.  If so, encourage them to meet with their advisor or go to Counseling Services to discuss other options available.

Talking to your student about their adjustment to Penn College can help alleviate their anxiety as they go through this transitional period.  Please remember, while adjusting to college can be hard, at Penn College your student doesn’t have to do it alone.  The Academic Success Center offers them a great place to go for support throughout their college career. Learn more about the Academic Success Center.

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Williamsport, PA 17701

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