First Year Residents Guide to Overcoming Barriers to Success

Transitioning to campus life means a lot of change — new people, new coursework, new location, and new lifestyle. While it can be the experience of a lifetime, it’s also a hard adjustment at the beginning.

Students encounter most barriers to adapting to campus life within their first year. If left unaddressed, first-year students will feel unsupported and unmotivated, possibly resulting in dropout.

Recognizing these barriers and providing guidance will support first-year students in acclimating to campus life more seamlessly.

What Are the Barriers to First-Year Success in Higher Ed?

Below are some of the barriers students encounter and solutions to overcome them.

Barrier #1 Increased Academic Rigor

Academics in college are more demanding than in high school or secondary school. Solutions to overcome challenges in academics include getting to know professors early in the term and forming a study group for difficult classes or upcoming exams.

First Year Residents Guide to Overcoming Barriers to Success
Barrier #2 Living Independently for the First Time

Moving out of home and living on campus is challenging as students navigate roommate relationships and learn to live without the support of their parents or guardians.

Students living with a roommate for the first time should write an agreement with clear rules. If your residents are experiencing roommate troubles, facilitate a discussion to uncover the root cause of the conflict and how to address the issue. For residents who are living away from their parents for the first time, guide them in doing household chores, like laundry and taking out the trash.

Barrier #3 Insufficient Time Management Skills

New students need to learn how to balance between classes, extracurricular activities, and their social life.

To manage their time, encourage first-years to create a calendar with important commitments, including classes, study time, extracurricular activities, campus events, and free time. First-year students should also learn to prioritize their commitments such that they complete their most important responsibilities, such as coursework, before moving on to other activities.

Barrier #4 Overcoming Loneliness by Forming Support Networks

Making friends in your first year is challenging, especially with the rise of technology and online communities. Students find difficulty in making a good first impression in person, resulting in loneliness.

You can help within campus housing by hosting an icebreaker game to let residents meet one another without navigating small talk awkwardly. In addition, offer suggestions for ways to get involved in student life that match their interests, including clubs, intramural sports, or student government.

Barrier #5 Maintain Good Health

Accessing all-you-can-eat dining halls, managing the work of new classes, and navigating campus life for the first time can leave students neglecting their mental and physical health. To support first-year students, share activities that boost health, such as taking a Physical Education course, implementing a morning routine, meditating, or practicing yoga or joining intramural sports teams. If they are having a hard time sticking to a routine, suggest that they find accountability buddies who also partake in the same health activities.

Barrier #6 Learn Good Stress Management Techniques

With so much change, students are more stressed than usual. You can assist students in managing their stress in campus housing by setting up soft skills training techniques, study hours, social events, or quiet hours at night. It is also vital that students implement self-care activities to lessen their stress, such as practicing mindfulness, taking breaks while studying, or engaging in hobbies. Lastly, let them know of the resources available to them, including you or other professionals on campus.

The Bottom Line    

Successfully navigating the first year of campus life is the beginning of an unforgettable college experience. Recognizing the barriers to success improves your ability to successfully thwart a trip down an unwanted rabbit hole. Preparing students to meet known challenges is an essential component for supporting their success.  Increase student engagement throughout their first year and beyond, it only gets better as they go forward towards their dream career.

To create exciting and fun engagements for your first-year residents, talk to one of our consultants.

Ready to take your Student Engagement Programming to the next level?