Succeeding in Your First Year of College

How First Year College Students Succeed

Finding success in your first year of college requires students to adhere to an important axiom: begin with the end in mind.  This tenant happens to be habit number two found in Stephen Covey’s highly acclaimed work The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and vital to your success in college.  The crux of this habit requires imagination and mental dexterity to create a road map of your goals that your eyes cannot yet see.  In other words, things are created twice: once in the mental world and once in the physical world when your plans come to fruition.

Why is it important to know what will help propel you towards success in college?  Simple: if you know the factors for success today, you can plan with the end in mind to set yourself up for success and continue a steep upward trajectory during your ensuing years of college and beyond.

The top 5 factors that determine success in your first year of college is rooted in the work performed by the AASCU and their member institutions to help improve student success, faculty preparation, and college effectiveness.  Below you will find a list of the top 5 most critical factors when determining success in your first year of college that include the following key drivers:

  1. Completion of College Credits: Class completion should not come as a surprise to anyone as a key driver for first year college success. Failing to complete a college course has a net effect of stunting academic momentum, increasing overall costs, lengthening time in school, and encumber a disproportionate percentage of college resources.  In order to help improve the enrollment to completion quotient, colleges need to improve communication and establish quality intervention plans while students must improve time management and organization habits well before their first year of college.
  2. Credit Accrual: In order to complete college on-time, students and college counselors need to work together to ensure the number of credits taken will help students finish on time. In other words, if a student is taking less than 15 credit hours per semester they will not be on track to an on-time college completion.  Colleges and Universities are taking a closer look at dual enrollment, life experiences, and credit transfer policies to help undergird each student.
  3. Degree Track Selection: Students to delay choosing a college major or possess an anemic commitment to a particular degree track, increase the possibility of not completing college.  Students and higher education institutions must partner early in the process to help explore viable college majors, course curricula, and ensuing career pathways upon completion.
  4. Core Curriculum: A college or university’s core curriculum or gateway courses are often a good predictor of student success during the first year of college. These gateway classes are often filled with first-year students who are trying to figure things out for their future.  By improving these gateway classes, schools can more effectively engage students and boost completion rates year over year.
  5. Grit: Volumes and volumes of data compiled by behavioral scientists reveal the importance of grit.  Grit is the ability to persevere with an indomitable spirit to drive towards a better future.  Likewise, college students that successfully complete their first year in college are much more likely to persist to through completion than those who struggle in their first year.

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