Three ways to help a college freshman succeed

Capture all the things

College freshman have stuff.  Lots of stuff. Lots of that stuff is papers, forms, and other information necessary for day to day college life outside of classes. Rather than trying to keep track of all that stuff use a cloud based tool like Google Drive, OneNote, OneDrive, or Evernote to make digital copies of things.

Each one of these supports taking photos of printed materials and then making the text in the photos searchable. Now when you get that flyer for the glee club meeting (I know, I know) you can just take a picture of it and be able to find out when and where it was at any time with a simple search.

Getting from A to B

You’ll hear suggestions about using an online calendar to track your class and activity schedules so you don’t miss your commitments while on campus. What these suggestions normally miss is allowing for how long it takes to get from here to there.  When you create entries in a calendar such as Outlook or Google Calendar, put an entry before your commitment with enough time to get from where you would be when reminded to where the commitment is.  So for example if it takes you 15 minutes to walk across campus, put an entry 15 minutes long before your class so you are reminded when you need to leave to be there on time. Some calendars allow you to adjust the timing of reminders, but I’ve found it easier to be able to see everything on the calendar as blocks rather than trying to remember to adjust the alarms one at a time.

Use Facebook to keep the parental units in the loop

One of the ways a college freshman can keep parents in the loop without dozens of text messages back and forth is the “letters home” approach with Facebook.  Yes, I know Facebook isn’t the cool thing for college students, but since Facebook has over 56 million users between 35-54 it might just be the easiest way to keep them in the know.  So how do you accomplish this without broadcasting your need for more dining hall money to the rest of the world?

You can set up custom lists of people in Facebook to limit who will receive an update when you post it.  This way you can write up an update (letter home) and then share it to the custom list. Another option is creating a private, unlisted group in Facebook and sharing information there.  It may feel like a lot to ask, but remember while you’re steeped in the day to day of college life, the people at home are always wondering how you’re doing and how college is going for you.  If you don’t tell them, they’re going to ask…and ask…and ask.

A little prep makes for less stress

Productivity on a college campus is no different than anywhere else.  It’s about doing the right things at the right times in the right ways. Take a few minutes to set yourself up for success and you can enjoy and benefit from your time at college that much more.


Know a college freshman? How are you helping them in their first big year. Tell me all about it in the comments.