The percentage of first-year college students in 2015 that returned for their second year was 74 percent, according to Kelly Field in her article “A Third of Your Freshmen Disappear. How Can You Keep Them?,” published June 3 by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The same article says that these rates have stayed around the same number for the past 10 years. Economic situations and family emergencies may account for it, but one thing that is difficult for new students is balancing their lives at college.
October is a hectic time at Pepperdine. This is a prime time for big projects, the fall theater production is just around the corner, and midterms are in full swing. While most students have already been through this cycle at least once before, freshmen are experiencing it for the first time. Even though everyone is having a hard time right now, students should keep first years in mind and help them through their first college midterms.
For freshmen, leaving home to attend a university is a big change, and students can have a difficult time finding their place. Pepperdine culture promotes busyness, and there are so many ways that first years can get involved with clubs, volunteer work and part-time jobs on top of all their required classwork. Even if freshmen can manage their time, they are still susceptible to severe stress.
Pepperdine has great resources like the Counseling Center that first years can take advantage of in these instances, but other students can still help them relax and destress in other ways.
A simple way to help is to simply listen to them. “Your worst-case scenario thinking won’t get better until you get it all out of your head,” wrote Paula Davis-Laack in her article “10 Ways to Relieve Stress in 5 Minutes or Less,” published Jan 26, 2015 by Psychology Today. It feels good to talk all those negative feelings out, and a listening ear that understands is a true encouragement.
Another way to help freshmen is to mentor them through this process. A 2014 study at University of Pittsburgh showed that first years who were mentored by upperclassmen increased the number of first semester honors students by 38 percent. Experienced students who know the classes can really help freshmen who are still figuring them out.
Through these stress-filled times, remember to also help them when they are struggling. Think back to life as a first year and walk in their shoes. Upperclass students should try to relate to them and be understanding. Creating a welcoming home away from home for these new students should be a goal for those who want to follow the Pepperdine creed: “Freely ye received, freely ye give.”
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