Years of research on what makes college students successful points to a key factor – resilience: the ability to bounce back and pursue your goals while encountering challenges and obstacles.
Your first year in college will bring many, many changes. New friends, being away from family, more rigourous courses, managing your time – these are all challenges to being successful in college, particularly for new students. This is why having a strong support system at your school is extremely important – not just in the form of friendships, but through services your school offers.
Here’s what you should look for in a strong support system at a college or university:
Studies show the quality of your college experience is greatly enhanced if you receive good academic advising early and often throughout your program. One of the primary reasons you attend college is to receive your degree in an area of academic study you’re passionate about – so it’s important to have someone support you through that process. Especially if you don’t know what you want to major in yet, a good advisor will be able to help you with those decisions. Read this blog post, written by Meredith’s Director of Academic Advising, Alex Davis, to learn How to Spot (Really) Great Academic Advising.
Some of the most important learning you will do in college will be outside of the classroom. Your professors should be able to point you to possible internships, community-based learning experiences, and other opportunities. Opinions of a good student-to-faculty ratio vary, but generally speaking, a lower ratio means more individualized and engaging support from your professors. There’s a lot to be said for faculty that know their students by name and give them personalized support inside and outside of the classroom. Ask your adissions counselor about ways faculty support students and what types of learning opportunties they provide in your program(s) of interest.
Paired with good academic advising, a good career planning counselor will help you apply the skills you learn in the classroom to the real world through opportunities such as jobs and internships. Job boards, mentorship programs, mock interviews, resume help, and career fairs are just a few of the resources a supportive career planning center will provide.
By providing guidance, encouragement, and advice, a mentor is someone who you can look up to and lean on through college and beyond. Since finding one doesn’t always come naturally, mentorship programs are a great resource on college campuses. For example, Meredith offers the Big Sis’/Little Sis’ program as well as Meredith Mentors to help connect you with a more experienced Meredith student or alumna with similar interests and goals.
A strong sense of community is important on a college campus, and so is finding spaces where you fit in within that community. Not just to give you a sense of belonging, but also to help you establish connections and build allyships for personal and professional support. When you’re on campus visits, take a look around at the posters and flyers – what types of events or activities are being promoted? Do any of them sound interesting to you? You can also ask your admissions counselor or explore the college’s website for a list of active clubs and organizations on campus to see if anything sparks your interest. Clubs, organizations, athletic teams, undergraduate research opportunities, campus events, and more all provide great ways to get involved, explore your passions, meet new people, and build your network of support. Plus, they all look great on a resume!
If you are a student with a disability, having support in the form of a dedicated disability services counselor is important to your success. A supportive disability services staff values diversity and self-advocacy, and works hard to create accessible, inclusive, and sustainable living and working environments on campus for all. Assistant Director for Disability Services at Meredith Carolyn Koning wrote this helpful blog post to help students with disabilities evaluate schools based on their needs in the college search.
A student counseling center provides a safe place for students to talk throughout the academic year with professionals about a variety of personal issues: stress and time management, relationship issues, anxiety and depression, and more. When looking at different colleges, ask your admissions counselor about resources the counseling center offers – such as one-on-one appointments with a trained counselor, crisis support, and other resources to build resilience.
Even if you consider yourself to be a strong student in high school, you may find that some subjects just don’t come quite as naturally in college. This is why a strong learning center or peer-tutoring program is important to your success. Explore a college’s website or ask your admissions counselor about this on your visit! See what subjects are offered, if the services are free, and how to go about scheduling an appointment. At Meredith, tutors are currently-enrolled students who have excelled in their coursework and have a record of outstanding performance.
During your college experience, you’ll inevitably face challenges – but you don’t have to do it alone! Find a college that meets your needs by providing a strong support system.
Learn more about how Meredith helps students go strong.