“A potential issue with going away to college in another state Anwar, is that you will be far away from familial support,” my high school basketball coach’s wife said. I sought both of their counsel about transferring from the SUNY College at Brockport to Johnson C. Smith University.
She continued, “When you are far away from family, you may find yourself relying on the support of peers your age. Many will not have developed the important life skills necessary to navigate certain situations. They may not be very mature themselves and this may create challenging situations and conflicts outside of the classroom.”
Part one of Surviving the first year of college talked about time management and why some kids falter in the classroom when leaving home to pursue their educations. Part two will talk about how and why some students struggle outside of the classroom.
Why do some students go away to college only to get into trouble, to get on academic probation and in some cases, get kicked out of school? The answers vary. Most kids don’t go to school intending for these types of things to happen. That being said, living on a college campus away from Mom and Dad offers several perks. One of the major ones is the freedom to pretty much do and try whatever you want to, especially after hours and on the weekends when there is less supervision from Residence Directors and Assistants.
Some students come from strict households and don’t know what to do with themselves once they are let off of the proverbial leash. A well-known stereotype for this involves preacher’s children who are often portrayed as being highly likely to run wild when away from home. While the main reason for going to college is thought to be to get an education and to secure one’s future, some students go for other reasons. Others start off with good intentions and their priorities change once they get there.
“He or she didn’t act like that in high school,” is often heard about peers who step onto college campuses and establish new social identities. Many students do in fact go to college to reinvent themselves to become someone different than who they were in high school where they may have received very little respect socially from their peers, or were sheltered by their parents.
Some students fall in love with movements and organizations on campus which provide them with new identities, as well as popularity, power and fun times. Others are presented for the first time with the possibility of experimenting with several real world adult scenarios for the first time such as sex, access to drugs and alcohol, and other potential vices.
First year college students, particularly in dormitories, are forced to deal with real world scenarios and conflicts which require healthy life skills to navigate. Many students going into college don’t possess these skills. Everyone has heard stories of roommates from hell who were selfish and unsanitary, and didn’t know how to share living space with another person. There were also fellow residents who liked blasting their music at late hours of the night, or early in the morning.
Most students have to learn these life skills and lessons on the fly if they learn them at all. During my first two years of college there were numerous bad occurrences; students ending up on academic probation and flunking out, students fighting, students being thrown out for smoking marijuana, females being raped, females getting pregnant, students staying up all night socializing, students playing video games all day long, etc.
Going away to school isn’t all bad. Students who survive the above traps and learn to navigate them can experience tremendous personal growth and development. Surviving away from home also requires learning about people and making friends, both valuable skills later on in life.
Admittedly, part of growing into adulthood is making mistakes. Some can be avoided through discussion, while others are unavoidable. As described in part one, it’s once again important to talk to the student ahead of time so that they know what their objective is; to graduate within a reasonable amount of time and to establish a career afterwards.