We have discussed the top reasons students leave college. A lack of college knowledge is a major reason. This refers to the language used by higher education staff and may not be familiar to students. This includes making sure students know where they can go for help when they need it. Many students lack college knowledge, especially first-generation and low-income students.
They enter college not fully prepared. This can lead to students can’t do all assignments, need to ask other people to “do my coursework for me” and sometimes just dropping out. It is crucial that college access professionals and higher education pros learn how to assist students in their college learning.
College knowledge that students must have
Each student is likely to have a different level of college knowledge than the next. Staff can help students by introducing (and sometimes reintroducing) college knowledge. Students will feel better prepared at the end.
These are six key points to help students improve their college knowledge.
- Discuss their return on investment.
- Use commonly-used lingo
- Offer an overview of financial aid
- Talk about your first-day expectations
- How to find resources
- Do not assume they are able to wash their clothes.
For a deeper discussion on how to help students to grow and improve their college knowledge, read on.
1. Discuss their return on investment
Talking to students about the return on investment is one way to increase college knowledge. We discussed last week how important it was for students to understand that college is more than the desire of their parents and teachers. These expectations are high, but students today need to understand why college is worth the investment. This is especially true for Gen Z students. These students must be able to view the data themselves. They want to understand why college is important. They want to see that their time, effort, and money will pay off. It is a great idea for students to be able to show them the data. It gives the conversation meaning. They will be more open to learning about college once they believe it is worthwhile.
2. Use commonly-used lingo
Students will likely hear college lingo that they aren’t familiar with. They may not be able to distinguish between a bachelor’s and an associate degree. They may also be confused about the differences between a university and a community college. These terms can be used with students to help them understand the meaning of what they are before they start college. This will allow them to avoid unnecessary confusion.
3. Provide a Financial Aid Overview
Although financial aid is one of the most complex topics in college knowledge, it’s worth giving students an overview. This discussion can be started by defining the differences between grants, scholarships, loans and making sure students understand the importance of the FAFSA. Students will be able to understand the different types of aid they have and how to apply for it. Students will also understand the importance to file a FAFSA each year while they are at college. Many students think that the FAFSA filing is only for one year. The staff can help dispel this myth and guide students to increasing their college knowledge, which will allow them to receive aid each year.
4. Talk about your first-day expectations
The most common (and often overlooked!) question for college access staff is “What to expect on the first day of college?” College access staff often get asked this question: What to expect on your first day at college? Students are often nervous about their first day of college. Students can be helped to relax by telling them what a typical college day looks like. This includes reviewing course syllabi and getting familiar with course outcomes. It is a good idea for students to have a list of things they should bring. They are likely to be familiar with a list of materials they need before school starts. A similar list of materials for college is a great way to keep them familiar and help them prepare for the next stage in their education.
5. How to find resources
Students will find resources on campus a helpful tip to help them through college. Staff can advise students to get in touch with their academic advisor if they have to change their course schedule. A resident assistant might be the first point of contact for any residence hall questions. For any other concerns or questions, the student services department may be the right place to go. Many students, especially first-generation students, are shy about asking for assistance. This discussion will normalize the need to get assistance and encourage students who are struggling to ask for it.
6. Do not assume they are able to wash their clothes
Some students find college to be their first time away from home. Students need to be able to manage certain tasks for the first time. Parents should be able to lead the discussion with their children. Staff can encourage parents and students to engage in this conversation. Staff can encourage parents to have this conversation. For example, college access staff may organize events that help students to grow knowledge and understand budgeting. During orientation, college staff might present topics such as making healthy decisions and prioritizing your mental health. These topics will not only increase students’ college knowledge but will also help them prepare for college and the responsibilities that college life will bring.