BY SOPHIA SANCHEZ
College can be an intellectually stimulating time, or a time of great anxiety, depending on the academic, emotional, and social well-being of the student. Many students who have not been prepared for the higher level of academic challenges might find it difficult to cope, especially if they have moved out of the comfort of home, and close circle of friends. This is especially true of first generation college students who might hesitate to walk into a faculty member’s room or ask a classmate for advice. Friends and family members might offer some pointers, but, those who don’t have this option, need help in negotiating everyday academic expectations set by faculty. Timely help can mitigate the stress in a college student’s life, especially a newbie’s, while also helping them adjust to their new ecosystem.
Student loans add up to a phenomenal $1.5 trillion(44 million borrowers); it’s astonishing and heartrending, all the more so, as it involves some of the brightest minds in our society. College affordability is becoming a problem and students come out of college with huge debts to be repaid. It’s worse if they leave college halfway through, and are burdened with debt. This makes helping the college student finish on time, and with good grades, all the more critical. After almost a decade of low employment levels, and insipid hikes in salaries, things are a tad better; however, students still need all the help they can get to compete with their peers while reining in their expenses.
In the last two decades the use of technology has become widespread in educational institutions. It could be as inane as looking up a word’s meaning or as enjoyable as an AR/VR immersive experience. The fillip comes from the widespread belief, that technology can level the field of opportunity for students. As devices become more powerful we have started using technology even in our everyday lives. Annotating digital essays, and Instagram driven scavenger hunts on campus, show us how very technologically driven a student’s everyday life can be.
When assignments are to be submitted and a student needs help with polishing and editing their work, writing centers can be used. Many are student-run under the aegis of a professor, with slots lasting 30-60 mins long. Frequently this could be an online writing lab where students can upload their documents and hear back from seniors who go through their work, and give constructive comments about improving overall writing standard.
Extra academic support is frequently required when students are transitioning from high school to college. Writing assignments, especially the academic essay, can be quite challenging. Many students might come from schools where there wasn’t a great emphasis on writing standards. If peers are burdened by assignment submissions and cannot help, it’s smart to get some homework help. An affordable subscription might give students access to academic writing, which might get ideas and essay structure flowing smoothly, thus paving the way to writing confidently. As professors evaluate students on their ability to write well, reading high quality essays and papers at one’s convenience is a sure shot way to enhance one’s writing abilities.
Some students might require help with courses they have taken, where they lag behind in having a solid foundation to the course. Courses designed to help students learn in easily mastered increments can bring them up to speed, rather efficiently. Others might require some digital hand holding to get them on par with peers. There may be yet others who are eager to go ahead on their own. Many of the online university courses are free and can be accessed directly or via private course providers like Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, edX, etc.
There is no doubt that preparing and going away to college has its highs and lows. In a new campus, the constant onslaught of ‘new’ can be emotionally draining on students. With few friends to let off steam with, students might end up stressed, leading to poor class participation and even poorer emotional wellbeing. In such situations social media can do its bit.
From staying in touch with friends and family back home, connecting with roommates even before moving into a dorm, to contributing virtually on an academic group project, social media can be quite an effective tool. Although digital friends are often listed under the ‘cons’ of social media, as digital natives, students find it easier to befriend new people virtually; right from finding seniors, to extended-never-met-before family members. Once a comfort has been established virtually, it might be easier for students to meet in the real world with the accompanying emotional satisfaction. This ability to help students connect is definitely social media’s ‘pro’.
Students need all the support they can get, to ensure they stay and have a fulfilling time in college, growing into well rounded independent individuals. Digital support, often being affordable, gives students the freedom to use it at their discretion and convenience, helping them get comfortable in college.
Author Bio: Sophia is a newbie online ESL/EFL instructor. She is a passionate educator and blogs about education on her personal blog. She found her true calling — teaching — while she was juggling writing and a 9-5 desk job. When Sophia is not busy earning a living, she volunteers as a social worker. Her active online presence demonstrates her strong belief in the power of networking.