This blogpost and podcast is for our colleagues in higher educations, professors, the world over.

This is #3 in our series on teaching. We continue with a look at our newest students.

Our First-Timers! Those incoming freshmen who are just 3 months out of high school.

  • What do they think of college coming in and what is college actually like?
  • They have been told a number of things about college and some of them are true.
  • Our students are still surprised about how college actually is when they arrive.
  • High school students know a lot about getting into college – this has been their focus. But there’s not much information about what you do once you arrive.
  • Going to classes in college is nothing like going to classes in high school.

Changes in Structure

  • In high school, everything was spelled out for them.
  • Dr. Daniel de Roulet: My students seem to be expecting me to tell them what’s due. What’s coming. When to study.
  • Professors: An intro about how your class is structured vs. how a high school class were structured can be helpful.
  • Often, the time span for assimilating knowledge is expanded in college.
  • The amount of free time that our students suddenly have can be unsettling for them.
  • We want our students to engage in independent self motivated work.
  • Projecting the syllabus onto the screen can be helpful from time to time.
  • Students can benefit from an editing plan.
  • We assume that because our students are technologically savvy with digital media that they understand the colleges online systems.

New Student Assumptions

  • Because an assignment may not be due right away, they don’t need to be doing any work for the class.
  • “If it’s not due, it’s not on the radar.” We need to help our students to think differently about this.
  • High school is more: “Just in time learning.” vs. College courses which are spread out over an entire term.

Lifestyle is Different

  • They are now living in a dorm room with other people who may do strange things at night!
  • Students may not know anyone.
  • Students who live at home need to make the transition to a college student lifestyle now.

What can we actually do in the classroom to help these students?

  • Your class can be structured as an apprenticeship to college within the subject matter. Our book has more on this: The Caring Professor: A Guide to Effective, Rewarding, and Rigorous Teaching
  • Activities and personal modeling can revel for our students what it means to be a good academic person.
  • Help your students to overcome a “Fear us us.” Help them to overcome their anxiety and feel welcome to your office.
  • Some professors feel that it is their job to scare or intimidate their students about college. The news on that? They are usually scared plenty on their own. They don’t need help with that.
  • Book Recommendation: The College Fear Factor: How Students and Professors Misunderstand One Another  which explains student behavior.
  • Think about being seen as an approachable person.
  • Once our students feel that we are rooting for them, the entire class changes for the better.



Please join us next week for: SC 87  #4. Teaching Students who are Succeeding for the First Time. Feeding the seeds of early success.


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Daniel & David


SC 86  #3. Teaching First-Time College Students