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How to Avoid the Kisses of Death in the Graduate School ...

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Why Your Freshman Year in College WillNOTBe 13thGrade
Students Are Treated More Like Adults Than Children.In High School, teachers often contact parents if problems occur. Parents are expected to help students in times ofcrisis.In College, students have much more freedom, and must take responsibility for their own actions. Parents may not be aware thata student isexperiencing an academiccrisis becausethe Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects their children’s privacy.“College teachers expect more from you. There are no late assignments or make-up tests. They do not hold your hand”“The biggest difference between high school teachers and college professors is that you have to learn by yourself in college.”
Thearticle whose results are summarized in thisposter canbe accessedonline from the following reference.Appleby, D. C. (2014, August). How do college freshmen view the academic differences between high school and college?Psychology TeacherNetwork. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/ptn/2014/08/college-freshmen.aspxPosterdesign courtesy of the James Madison University Department of Psychology
Academic Expectations Are Much Higher.In HighSchool, academicexpectations are not always high, and good grades can often be obtained with minimum effort. This is especially true for bright students who discover they don’t have to do much more than attend classesandremember whattheir teacher say to earn highgrades.In College,academicexpectations are much higher, and minimum effort usually produces poor grades.“It was a big adjustment.“In high school, I was one of the ‘smart’ people who never had to read the material before class, study for a final, or write a paper well in advance. Here, I have to spend every free minute preparing the homework assigned for that day.”“College classes are really hard and much more in-depth compared to high school classes.”I had maybe one paper to writeduring my whole highschool career. Here, I had a paper assigned on thefirstday of classes.”
Homework Is Done After,Not During School.In HighSchool,studentsare assigned daily homework, which teachers collect and check to insure that assigned work is being done. For example, a term paper can require many intermediate steps before the final paper issubmitted.In College, instructors assume students have learned how to “keep up” with their assignments in high school and can be trusted to do course work without being constantly reminded or assigned “busy work” homework.“In high school, you learn the material in class. In college, most learning takes place outside the classroom.”• “In high school, things were over at 4:00 p.m. In college, things like studying are just startingat thattime.”
Students Must Be More IndependentandResponsible.InHigh School,parents, teachers, and counselors support, give advice to, and often make decisions for students. Students rely on their parents to meet their basic needs and must abide by their parents’ boundaries andrestrictions.In College, students must learn to rely on themselves and begin to experience the results of their own good and bad decisions. It is their responsibility to seek advice when they need it and to set their own restrictions.“Highschool teachers teach you what’s in your textbooks. College teachers expect you to actuallyreadyour textbooks.”“College teachers expect students to read the syllabus and the classroom is set up to where it is sink or swim. Do the work or fail. High school teachers reminded us about the deadlines for projects every day and tried to help us if we were struggling.”“The most important thing I’ve learned since I have been in college is that it’s time for me to step out of the purgatory between my teenage years and adulthood and to take some responsibility for my life.”
Students Must Learn to Prioritize Their Activities and Manage Their Own Time.In High School, there are distractions from school work, but these are at least partially controlled by rules at school and home (e.g., curfews, dress codes, and enforced study hours).In College, many distractions exist, but students are not protected from them by parental or school rules. Time management and the ability to prioritize become absolutely essential survival skills for college students.“We don’t have as much time to do assignments as we did in high school because more material is covered in a shorter amount of time.”“Even though you may not be in class as long as in high school, the amount of time you have to put in to complete the assigned work is doubled, even tripled.”“The biggest difference between the two was that in high school, I could usually get an assignment done whenever I could and there wouldn’t be much of a consequence if it was late.”
Drew C. Appleby, PhD (Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis)According to the most recent data from American College Testing’sCollege Retention and Graduation Rates, 32%of all freshmen enrolled in American colleges and universities drop out beforetheirsophomoreyear. Thecauses for thisappalling statistic havebeen researchedextensively, andtheyfallintofour categories: pooracademicpreparation, inadequatefinancialsupport, lack of campus engagement, and low educational motivation. Whilethese reasonscertainly accountfor a substantialportionof this high drop-out rate, during my 40-year career as a college professor Ialso observedthat manyof my academicallywell-prepared,financially well-supported, actively engaged, and highly motivated freshmen failed to return for their sophomore yearas a result of the culture shock they experienced because they wereunaware of the very real and very important differences that exist betweenthe academic cultures of highschool andcollege. Asa result of this unawareness, theytreated their freshman year in college as if it were their 13thgrade in high school and therefore failedto adapt successfully to their new academic environment because they were either unable or unwilling to changethebehaviors, attitudes,and/orstrategiesthat helped them to succeed in high school, but which caused them to fail in college. The strategy I developed to help my students overcome this challenge was to perform a qualitative research project in which I asked students in one of my freshman learning communities at the end of their first semester to identify the most important ways in which their educational environment (i.e., their classes and teachers) had changed from high school to college. I performed a content analysis on their answers and the seven categories of differences described in the following boxes emerged, each of which is followed by a representative sample of my students’ responses. The next step in my strategy was to create a PowerPoint from my results and present it early enough in the following semesters so my current students could benefit from the wisdom of their predecessors before it was too late. My strategy appeared to work because the last two classes I taught before I retired received the IUPUIFreshmanLearningCommunity RetentionAward for 100% retention from first to second semester. If you would like to receive my PowerPoint and a handout I created to accompany it, contact me at dappleby@iupui.edu.

TheSyllabus Replaces Teachers’Daily Reminders.InHighSchool,the teacher prepares a lesson plan and uses it to tell students how to prepare for the next class period (e.g., “Be sure to read Chapter 3 in your textbook.” or “Don’t forget to study for tomorrow’s test.”).In College, the instructor distributes and discusses the syllabus during the first class and expects students to read and follow the syllabus without having to be reminded about what will be done or what assignment is due during the next class period.“Highschool teachers tell students what’s due the next day; college professors expect students to read what’s due in the syllabus.”“High school teachers told us our assignments; college professors tell us to read the syllabus.”“College teachers don’t tell you what you’re supposed to do. They give you a syllabus and expect you to follow what it says. High school teachers tell you about five times what you’re supposed to do.”
Student-Teacher Contact Is Less Frequent and More Formal.In High School, teacher-student contact is close and frequent in classes that usually meet five days a week. Teachers are very accessible.In College,classes meet less often (sometimes only once a week) and faculty are usually available only during their office hours or by appointment.“College professors aren’t as available as high school teachers. Icould drop into my high school teachers’ offices anytime and just hang out. Collegeprofessors haveoffice hours that we have to use if we want to discuss things with them.”“High school teachers assist you more. They kind of hold your hand and make sure you get everything done.”“In high school, teachers were supposed to learn our names and to get to know us. In college, I’ve learned that it’s my responsibility to help my teachers to get to know me.”

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How to Avoid the Kisses of Death in the Graduate School ...