Opinion

Five resolutions to succeed in college

Many college students spent their winter break with friends and family, and are returning to campus more committed and energized. But far too many others are not. 

For these students, winter break exacerbates doubts about the school they selected and highlights their frustration with college. This is particularly true of first-year students, as half of all students who drop out do so within their first year. Many of the students who are not succeeding may already be contemplating taking a break from college. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those who take a temporary break join the 43 percent of students who begin a bachelor program, yet never graduate.

Academic ability, while important, is only part of the picture when it comes to being successful in college. Jasmine Stirling, chief marketing officer at InsideTrack, which offers technology-enabled student coaching services, suggests five resolutions to help any college student be more successful.

1. Choose friends wisely

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    Arizona Western College freshman Siria Alvarez stops to pet Maddy, a Cocker Spaniel, during a break between classes Nov. 30, 2011 in Yuma, Ariz. Maddy, along with several other dogs and owners from Love on a Leash, helped AWC students de-stress as they prepared for their upcoming finals.
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Many students make the mistake of generalizing about their university based on the few people they’ve met in their first months on campus. These students can be plagued by feelings of not fitting in, or of choosing the wrong school, and spend weekends and evenings shut up in their dorm rooms. It’s important for these students to get out on campus, try new things, and find groups of people with whom they can connect.

Our coaches often encourage students to put together lists of things they love doing, or interests they had in high school, and actively work to translate those into events, clubs, and extra-curricular activities on campus where they might find like-minded friends. When students start to form great friendships, college becomes a second home for them.

But choose wisely – if you can’t keep up with the partying or late nights of a particular group, keep looking. Hundreds of students we’ve worked with have had their college experience transformed when they joined the right organization and found the right group of friends. It’s worth taking the extra time to do this right. Research shows that solid social connections are a strong predictor of success in college.

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