If you’re on a college campus this fall for the very first time, the whole idea of doing college work may intimidate you. You should know something—you’re not alone!
Many first year college students have trouble, and many never make it beyond their first year. The drop out rate is high and the graduation rate is low for college. Why? Actually there is a neuropsychiatric explanation. Adolescents often suffer from asynchrony, which means their development is not always aligned with their chronological age in various areas of brain development. Did you know some students party themselves right out of college because they are socially underdeveloped? They party to get caught up in their development, only to find their grades have not followed at the same pace. Students can be academically prepared and not socially prepared for college.
Slow cognitive development may affect students’ ability to learn well. Delays in emotional development can render first year students unable to cope with college stresses. These developmental delays crop up in several areas. Aside form cognitive, emotional, and social areas there are study skills, work ethic, and community involvement skills that are affected. Does this mean you’re like this for the rest of your life? No! That’s the point. These are natural delays. Not everyone develops at the same pace in each and every area of his or her life. But, that first year of college just happens to correspond to the times when these delays are kicking in and just before they right themselves.
As colleges become more inclusive, more trouble pops up in the newer student body. Some schools are beginning to address these problem students before they grow into drop outs or dismals. Colleges are assessing for problems when students come to campus and providing services or remediation for lack of skill development. Such planning and attention can mean a sustained and successful college career.
Here are a few programs Leanne Italie recently described in her Associated Press article.
• Bridgton Academy, Maine – This is a post-graduate, one-year course that is designed specifically to address areas of course work that students need to catch up with. There is also the extra year on a college-like campus to help students development their social and emotional skills. Students are offered a lot of individual attention as well. The problem here is it has a $42,000 price tag.
• Families Untied in Educational Leadership, Massachusetts – This program provides specific testing in reading, writing, and math to detect early on if there are weak spots in students’ cognitive development. Tutorials are then designed to target those areas over time to catch students up gradually and easily over a two to three year period. Interactive learning and instruction also help develop social skills.
• South Texas College – South Texas has paired with public schools within its radius to bring a little college right into the high school classroom. Professors or adjuncts come into the school where students can take extra course work at the college level. This gives students a sense of what to expect at the college level, time to prepare themselves for the work load, and a chance to earn college credit and still graduate on time.
• Salish Kootenai College, Montana – This program asks older students to work with younger students as both mentors and tutors. This pairing helps bring students up to a higher level of cognitive work, while at the same time teaching them relational skills.
If a student is going to stay in college and be successful, he or she needs to feel safe and validated. Newer programs help students foster the kinds of development that allow them to achieve these feelings, even in a new and challenging setting like college.
Don’t feel you can’t go to college. You can. You’re perfectly capable; you may just need a little help over the rough spots until your development kicks in and hormones calm down. Before leaving a school, check with your dean of students, with a learning center on campus, or with the counseling center to see if they have some remediation for you to help you stay.