Campus Life 101: Adjusting to College Academics

Getting familiar with GW’s many resources available to students is key to academic success.

August 24, 2018

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(William Atkins/GW Today)

Campus Life 101 is a new series from GW Today that offers tips on the basics of navigating life at college, from staying safe to adjusting to college academics and managing stress.

By Tatyana Hopkins

For incoming students, college is not simply going “back to school.”

The first year of college is a time of significant transition, which can be disorienting and overwhelming all at once, said Georgette Edmonson-Wright, associate vice provost for student success. The George Washington University offers numerous campus resources to help students achieve their academic goals because adjusting to a new environment, juggling competing priorities, making new friends and building community, all require new skills.

"One of the biggest challenges for first-year students is the shift from the highly-structured academic environment of high school to a self-directed and loosely-structured learning environment where you are responsible for your own learning," Ms. Edmonson-Wright said.

Ms. Edmonson-Wright offers some advice on how students can think ahead and be strategic as they strive for academic success:

  • Get to know your advisers and faculty. Take advantage of office hours to talk to your faculty about course material and concepts that you don’t understand.  Ask for feedback and meet with your advisers to ensure that you are on track to a timely graduation.
  • Prepare for Class.  Read materials ahead of class and review notes from the previous class to aid comprehension and retention of subject matter. Use proper citation. It is important to understand the difference between paraphrasing, quoting and plagiarism. Understanding GW’s Code of Academic Integrite is important since a violation of this code can result in failing a course or receiving sanctions including suspension or expulsion.  
  • Visit Academic Commons to learn more about academic support and services including tools to find the best study spaces on campus, tips on study skills and information on research and career planning. Students can also connect to personalized study assistance for writing, languages and more than 50 other courses. Through Academic Commons, students can learn time management techniques such as how to utilize academic planners, effective note-taking tips and finding a tutor to help with understanding the lessons,
  • Seek a Coach through your school advising office or email the Office for Student Success at [email protected] to inquire about one-on-one coaching support through the Academic Success Program. The program is designed to help you build the foundation for a successful semester and academic career.
  • Find or create study groups.  Studying with your peers can reinforce understanding and provide you with a community of support. Avoid cramming! Build in regular review of your notes, adding highlights from your reading and studying. Quiz yourself on material learned in the weeks leading up to the exam.
  • Build in time to de-stress!  Academic success depends on your overall being.  Find time to pursue other activities you enjoy including exercise and sleep. Push reset. Don’t let a disappointing grade set you back.  Success is learning how to bounce-back from inevitable disappointments.  You can get back on track by being resourceful and learning how to ask for help.

There is no shortage of resources to support students academically and personally.  The degree you earn will be a testament not just to your academic scholarship but to your skills of self-awareness, resilience and persistence.