Tag Archives: college student

Incoming Freshman: How to Start College Off Right

Incoming Freshman


Starting college is one of life’s major milestones. For many students, it’s the first time they’ll be living away from home, the first time they’ll be responsible for decisions about what to study and their daily routine. So it’s no wonder that the summer leading up to college is filled with a mix of excitement and trepidation. What if my classes are too hard? What if I have no friends?

It’s crucial that freshmen get the support they need to make this transition smoothly, otherwise they’re at high risk of dropping out. According to Department of Education, only about 40 percent of full-time students graduate from college in four years. The National Student Clearinghouse, a higher-education nonprofit, found that nearly 25 percent of full-time college students end up leaving school without completing their degree, and the dropout rate is even worse for part-time students. Six years after enrolling, only about 30 percent have graduated or continue to take classes.

Starting College Off Right

So how do you start off college right? By acknowledging the challenges ahead and finding out where to go for help when you need it.

“Probably the number one concern of new college students is entering an unfamiliar social environment,” says Dr. Bryn Jessup, Director of Family Services at Yellowbrick. “For most students, leaving home means trading a friendly and familiar social environment for an unfamiliar one, in which the vital experience of belonging is something that needs to be created anew, from scratch.”

Common worries among new students include:

  • Anxiety about getting along with roommates
  • Making new friends
  • Keeping up with the academic workload
  • Campus logistics (what if I get lost on the first day of class?)

Students can and should be reassured that there are things they can do to address all these potential problems. “It helps to identify ahead of time who, what, and where you can go to for help,” Jessup says.

Resident advisors in the dorms are trained to address roommate conflicts, and can even help arrange a room switch if necessary. Researching campus clubs and activities can steer a new student toward others with similar interests.

Focus on Time Management
And even before arriving on campus, students should be thinking about how they’ll stay organized.

“College presents significant challenges in time management,” Jessup says. Whether it’s an app on your phone or a paper planner, Jessup says freshman need to make sure they have the tools they’ll need to keep track of class times and meetings, administrative tasks, and deadlines.
Set Realistic Goals for Freshman Year

Today’s college students are under pressures their own parents may not recognize or understand. “Young people today are expected to ‘hit the ground running’ in order to launch a successful adulthood,” he says. “I hear more anxiety expressed these days about picking the right major, about strategic planning for graduate or professional school, about making sure that you’re doing all you can to justify the enormous expense of college.”

To counteract these relentless expectations, both students and their parents should be realistic about the goals for freshman year.

“I think it’s helpful for parents to endorse the idea that the first term—if not the entire first year of college—is going to be all about adjusting to living away from home, meeting new people and navigating a complex new environment,” Jessup says. “It should be a time for curiosity, for intellectual exploration and for tolerating ambiguity, uncertainty and novelty.”
Maintain a Connection with Family

That’s not to say students should be sent off to figure it all out themselves. Jessup says the students who adjust best to college life are those who have a good support system at home, as well as a good road map for where to seek help on campus. Students should leave home knowing how often they’re expected to check in with family, what kind of financial support they’ll be receiving, and how often they’ll be coming home for visits during the school year.

“Maintaining supportive connections with family and friends from home can help students feel grounded and self-aware as they navigate new territory,” Jessup says.
Additional Support: Campus Competence

For students who need more intensive, hands-on support, Yellowbrick’s new Campus Competence program is designed to assist young adults with learning disabilities or mental health challenges adjust to college life. A sober residential community located two blocks from the Northwestern University campus, it offers individual career and academic counseling, an on-staff occupational therapist to help students stay organized, and group sessions with experienced Yellowbrick professionals. For more information, visit: https://www.yellowbrickprogram.com/campus-competence-services.html

College Student

5 Tips for Students Returning to College After Treatment

College can be a stressful time for most students, but for those who are returning to college after being in treatment for alcohol, drugs or a mental disorder, re-entry can be especially hard.

The fears can seem overwhelming:
How will I handle the stress of school, dating and friends without using?
How will I be able to go back to a place that reminds me of such a dark time?
I’m so much older than everyone else now. What will people think of me?

Dr. Bryn Jessup, Director of Family Services at Yellowbrick, says it’s natural for students who have had a traumatic experience – such as hitting bottom with drugs, an eating disorder or attempting suicide – to have fears about returning to the place where they faced so much pain. Continue reading 5 Tips for Students Returning to College After Treatment

Does My Child Need a Gap Year?

Yellowbrick Gap Year - photo source: shutterstock

After high school graduation, what’s next for children? Perhaps a couple of weeks of summer fun followed by matriculation at a highly regarded university. Enrolling in college the autumn following high school graduation seems like an appropriate, chronological step, as most parents agree. After all, societal norms pressure high school students to start learning about, visiting, testing, and applying to universities as early as freshman year. Children face life-sculpting decisions before their brains reach full potential, as parents expect or enforce that after high school, what’s ultimately next for children is adulthood.  Parents and children may benefit by considering a gap year after high school.

What is a Gap Year?

Taking a gap year typically means delaying the start of college after high school graduation, giving children time to transition into adulthood.  A successful gap year, initiated with careful planning and collaboration between parents and young adults, includes practical opportunities for self-exploration such as traveling, volunteering, or participating in an official gap year program.  As a passage into adulthood, a gap year allows children to develop independence and get in touch with their strengths, capabilities and interests, while the brain continues to form. Throughout a productive gap year, young adults learn responsibilities of adulthood, set personal limitations, and negotiate their rights.  Without the stress, expectations, and high demands associated with formal education, young adults seeking self-awareness establish goals, drives, and directions from a well thought-out gap year.

Benefits of a Gap Year

Taking a gap year after high school offers vast advantages, pending the preparation.  Designing an explorative gap year as a volunteer, intern, or seasonal worker in another city or country may ignite interests, paving the way for future academic interests, as young adults develop personal identity.  A gap year enables young adults to pursue their own curiosities, boosting satisfaction of life and lowering overall stress levels. The American Gap Association, cites research studies proving time off between high school and college to be beneficial for young adults who engaged in constructive gap year programming. Common benefits from taking a gap year after high school include learning new skills, building self-confidence, working with diverse populations, lowering academic burnout, and identifying an educational and career path.

Making Meaningful Life-Career Choices

Young adults who have taken a gap year after high school often credit their time of self-discovery as a main contributor toward their happiness and success.  Deciding on a college or career path may not come easy for young adults.  By participating in a program like the Core Competence Center at Yellowbrick, young adults get in touch with their inner ambitions, drives, and purposes with the support of a team, dedicated to personal growth.  Educational and career exploration paired with a comprehensive assessment of the individual helps young adults envision future goals as they take a gap year after high school. Young adults, devoted to self-awareness while engaging in gap year programs, uncover personal strengths and interests.  Ultimately, a productive gap year inspires meaningful life-career choices.