21st Century Scholars > College Success Guide > First-Year Success and Beyond

First-Year Success and Beyond

Research shows that students who successfully complete their first year of college are more likely to return for a second year and eventually graduate. Here are some programs your college or university may offer to help make your transition to college a success.

The summer before you start

Participate in a summer bridge program. If available at your college, this is a great way to prepare for life as a college student. You will get to explore campus, develop academic skills, connect with staff and fellow students, and adjust to college life.

Before the first week of classes

Participate in welcome week and orientation programs. Many schools pack a variety of activities, events and orientation programs into the days before the first week of classes to help freshman students meet people, learn their way around campus and experience all that college has to offer. Orientation programs often fill up quickly, so be sure to ask about this opportunity as soon as you enroll in college.

The first semester of your first year

Take a first-year seminar (FYS) course. Also known as a freshman seminar, this course helps prepare you for the challenges of college academics, including helping you improve your writing, critical-thinking and discussion skills. You will also be connected to campus resources and learn tips to help you succeed in college.

The first year of college

Sign up for learning communities. This is a group of 20 to 30 students who share similar interests, majors or experiences and take several courses together. (At some schools, these students even live together in the same residence hall.) Instructors work together to relate assignments to one another and connect the ideas in each course. Sign up for a career exploration course. If you have not decided on a major, this course can help you evaluate your interests and strengths, research career opportunities and develop an action plan for your future.

The first and second years of college

Participate in a mentoring program. A mentor is someone with college experience who you can go to for advice, answers or even just to talk, such as a student peer (perhaps an upper-level 21st Century Scholar) or a faculty or staff member. Check with your academic advisor, student  services office or the 21st Century Scholars office to see if a mentoring program is available at your school.