The Keys to First Year Success for Parents

The Keys to First Year Success for Parents


The pace of the academic semester at the university will be much quicker and less structured than in high school. Students are in class less often, and professors have less time to ensure that students are keeping up with their work. As a result, it is essential that students develop effective time management and study skills.

The Academic Success Center offers an array of study skills workshops, such as; test-taking strategies, reading more effectively, organization and time management, and test anxiety. These workshops provide an opportunity for students to develop and/or refine general skills that are essential to academic success.

Parents can help by encouraging students to use their academic planner and discussing ways to be better organized. Parents also can discuss ways that they manage their school schedule with other responsibilities.

Learning to think critically is crucial to success in college and life in general but is not something with which most first-year students have much experience. Virtually every class students take at Rowan University will place a great deal of emphasis on critical thinking. In many situations, students will find that there is not a "right answer." Often professors will want students to focus on understanding the significance of an issue rather than coming up with a "correct answer." Parents can help by engaging students in a conversation about the significance of their studies. Critical thinking is a process that requires students to go beyond factual answers and opinions.


Students need to take ownership of their education. A college education is a tremendous opportunity, and it can prepare students to succeed professionally and personally. Students, however, must take full advantage of this opportunity by assuming ownership of their education. We strongly encourage students to explore areas of academic interest, take classes in subjects they find interesting, and engage in co-curricular learning experiences. Because there is no magic formula for academic or professional success, the main objective of any degree is to help students obtain a well-rounded education that will provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Students need to seize this opportunity and make the most of their education. Parents can help by encouraging students to pursue their own academic interests, while simultaneously acquiring skills (e.g., critical thinking, problem solving, analytic skills, oral and written communication skills, etc.) that will ensure success after graduation. Parents also can help by asking students what they are learning, why they enjoy what they are learning, and what skills they are developing. It also might be helpful to talk about your own educational and career experiences.


Learning to be proactive at a medium-size university is essential. In order to succeed in this environment, students must seek out advice and resources available at Rowan University. Parents can help by encouraging their student to utilize their professors’ office hours, ask questions in class, and stay in touch with their academic advisor. Students will also benefit from attending the Academic Success Center, University Advising Center, Office of Career Advancement, and Counseling and Psychological Services sessions listed on their individual websites each semester. Parents might want to discuss their own strategies for being successful in life.


Many first-year students will experience some homesickness. This is understandable given the tremendous transition that students face at the university. Parents can help by staying in regular contact with their students and keeping the lines of communication open. If your student has questions or concerns, you might encourage them to speak with academic advisors or Residence Hall Assistants. It is important that parents reassure students that homesickness is fairly typical and will usually diminish as the academic semester progresses as they become engaged in all aspects of life as a Rowan University.
Research has shown that participation in non-academic activities and learning experiences have, in fact, improved and enhanced the overall college experience for students. Students will benefit from attending campus activities and events, participating in Rowan After Hours, getting involved with intramurals, joining a student organization, performing community service, engaging in a service learning project, working out in the Rec Center, and being a member of campus student employment staff.