Q: My son is a freshman, and he's living at home. The first semester, he seemed unconcerned about his classes, then he began panicking in mid-October. In November, he dropped his math class because he felt he was way behind and didn't think he could catch up. He's also working 15 hours a week at a computer store near home. Sometimes I think his job is a higher priority for him than homework. How can he learn to manage his time better this semester?
A: The counselors and learning assistance staff in our Learning and Academic Skills Center are hearing similar issues a lot these days. Commuting students, as well as most freshmen, find it difficult to manage their time and their priorities as they face the challenges of college work.
Many students maintain high school routines that just don't mesh with college expectations. The math that seemed easy enough in high school can be nightmarish at the pace of college math. Different study skills are necessary, and students often have to learn more on their own.
The fact that your son works 15 hours a week may need to be reviewed in light of the situation. Some can handle that many hours of work during the first semester; others cannot. In your son's case, his job-related activities and routines seem to suit him better than the "job" of being a student.
Many of these issues are covered in our student success classes. I suggest he make an appointment with a counselor in 340 Appleby Hall to obtain some learning assistance. He can receive help with reading and writing improvement, time management, note-taking, test preparation and test-taking, concentration, and memory.
A counselor can also talk to him about some of the personal and emotional issues that can interfere with academic success. These issues might include procrastination, test-taking anxiety, low motivation, fear of failure or success, perfectionism, or other concerns.
By Rod Loper, University Counseling & Consulting Services.
Dr. Roper has retired, but Scott Slattery now addresses questions from parents and guardians of University of Minnesota students. Please address your questions to Dr. Slattery at 612-625-4568, or e-mail email@example.com.