Westmont Magazine Help with Homework
The rigor of Westmont’s academic program sometimes takes students — and their parents — by surprise. One of the first comments parents may hear when school starts is, “My classes are hard!”
The transition from the senior year in high school (when students have figured out how to study and succeed) and the first year in college (when professors routinely assign two hours of reading each night) can be difficult for some. Students may find they need to spend much more time studying than they did in high school — and that professors expect a higher level of work than they are used to producing.
Knowing the standards of Westmont faculty, the admissions office is careful to accept only those students they believe can succeed academically. Once students enroll, the college is committed to providing the resources they need to do college-level work.
Julie DeGraw, director of first-year programs, oversees academic advising and support services. She is particularly concerned with helping first-year students make the jump from high school to college.
What can students do when they find a class particularly challenging?
First they should meet with the professor and ask for advice on how to succeed. Faculty will suggest resources to help struggling students and may spend extra time outside of class with them.
It may also be wise for students to meet with their academic advisers who can also provide helpful information and support. Advisers keep in mind students’ long-term goals and needs for graduation and can make sure they stay on track. It is particularly important to consult with the adviser when students are considering dropping a class.
Second, students should consider participating in a study group or finding a tutor. Supplemental instruction can take several forms. Professors may hold review sessions for exams, or students who have excelled in the class may lead small-group tutorial sessions. Professors or Julie DeGraw in the first-year programs office can direct students to these resources. Students may also decide to arrange for individual tutoring on their own.
Students (especially those new to Westmont) may also find it helpful to take the Successful Scholars seminar, a six-week, non-credit course that focuses on time management, effective reading, critical thinking, organization, memorization, and test taking. For more information about this workshop, students can contact Julie DeGraw.
The key to helping students is reaching them as early as possible in the semester. If students are having difficulty, getting behind in their work, and receiving poor marks, the longer they wait before seeking assistance, the less effective it may be. Parents who think their students may benefit from academic support services should encourage them to seek help as soon as possible.
As students move out of the general education courses they take their first two years and into their major classes, they may find their work becomes more difficult. Even though they are not new college students, they may still need some support. Discussing any problems with their academic advisers is particularly important.
During the high school years, parents may have exhorted (OK, nagged) their students to do their homework. This approach becomes much less successful once students go to college. Instead, concrete suggestions about seeking assistance can help direct students to the resources that will help them earn their diplomas.