My first day of college came with a myriad of realizations: classrooms are located on the opposite side of campus from the freshman dorm, people on bikes do not stop for pedestrians, and any clothing (including pajamas) is appropriate for class. Also, I learned that final exams are a “big deal” in college; my Linear Algebra professor opened his class by stating, “The final exam is worth 37.5% of your total grade, and it will cover material from the entirety of the semester.” I had taken cumulative exams before, but a single test never determined my fate in a class like this one would. Thus, I realized that my normal high school studying habits would not get me an A, and I needed extra help. Although locating academic resources may take additional time and effort on the student’s part, these resources assist students in their academic success because college courses are more difficult; these resources help students learn to study and prepare them for finding careers.
It is true that finding these academic resources on campus takes effort. Most college students never needed a tutor in high school. For many, the concept of asking for help is strange, embarrassing, and weak. I found myself in this position early on during the year—I thought that I could study Linear Algebra the same way that I have always studied math: practice problems. Unfortunately, Linear Algebra is a conceptual math class that a student must understand to do well. When I realized that I needed extra help, I was clueless about how and where to get that help. In my small high school, I knew exactly where to find the tutor. However, my college, the Georgia Institute of Technology, is much bigger in population and area than my high school. After several Google searches, I finally found the Center for Academic Success. Most students realize when they need academic assistance, but they must put forth time and effort to locate their resources.
However, these academic resources help students pass difficult higher-level courses. In college, there are a myriad of factors that deem a class difficult. The professor might make the tests impossible to finish, the course might cover abstract material, or the homework might take several hours to complete. Whatever the reason may be, college courses are difficult. At Purdue University, 50% of students received a C or lower in Thermodynamics II. On my Linear Algebra final in May, the class average was a 68. Thankfully, colleges have the resources that counter these tough courses such as office hours, tutoring centers, and recitations. Stanford University defines office hours as “time set aside for students, but beyond that, a wide range of things are possible.” Professors and teaching assistants (commonly known as TAs) both hold office hours during certain times of the week specifically for students to come and ask questions. Although most professors will gladly help with homework questions, simply going to office hours to meet a professor is beneficial to the student. I started attending my Linear Algebra professor’s office hours to go over homework problems, previous exams, and notes from lecture. Not only did I begin to understand the material, but my professor caught grading mistakes on my exams and boosted my grade on more than one occasion. Because my class included over 150 students, most students were hesitant to ask questions in class. Office hours may provide a more comfortable setting to ask questions about the material in a one-on-one setting.
Resources help students learn how to pick classes and manage their time. Academic advisors are available in every major, and they are experts on the curriculum for their major. My mom works as an Academic Advisor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech; she knows every prerequisite course, major elective, and degree requirement for her major. Her job is solely to help students in her major. Plus, her office takes walk-ins, so she is easily accessible to students. I try to visit my advisor once a semester prior to registration. He helps me plan my semester around extra-curricular activities while ensuring that I am staying on track. Additionally, there are resources available to assist students in time management: at Georgia Tech, the Center for Academic Success website has a detailed study hour plan. Using this plan, students can allocate a larger amount of time to their more difficult courses, while still allowing time to prepare for less difficult courses. Oftentimes, high school students can get away with little to no studying, so these resources basically teach students how to study.
Additionally, there are resources on campus where professionals critique resumes, perform interview practice, and locate jobs and internships for students. Vanessa Miller, a writer for USA Today, describes the versatility of college career centers: “They offer a variety of workshops, events, appointments and materials to guide you in the right professional direction.” At Georgia Tech, our career center is the Center for Career Discovery and Development (also known as C2D2). Georgia Tech’s career website, Career Buzz, is another awesome resource for students; the website provides a list of internships, co-ops, and other events based on the user’s qualifications and interests. Every week, the Georgia Tech career advisor for the Scheller College of Business sends a list of full-time jobs, internships, and events that students are encouraged to explore. Holding internship positions while in college is a great way to discover whether or not a certain job or industry is a good career fit.
Although locating specific academic resources requires an amount of effort, these resources help students pass classes, manage their time, and find jobs. Miya Stefanick, a first-year student at Georgia Tech, emphasizes the value of utilizing academic resources on campus: “I think it is really important for students to make the best out of their resources. There is so much additional help available that I wish I made better use of during my first semester”. Thanks to office hours, review sessions, and a study plan, I managed to finish Linear Algebra with an A average—college resources will help students succeed. We just need to utilize our resources.