Freshmen-to-be getting prepared for move up to higher education
A month before they start the next phase of their lives, Christian Lawson sells watermelons while Kade Loupe rents ministorage units.
In a few weeks, Lauren Yegge will pack her car for a new life in Alabama, but first she is having her wisdom teeth pulled.
Teens preparing for their freshman years in college will spend the next month scurrying for last-minute doctor’s appointments, amassing furnishings for a new room and trying to stash away money.
“There’s a lot to do, things you don’t even think of,” said Lauren Yegge, a Episcopal High School graduate who will attend the University of Alabama in the fall.
Lauren Yegge searches for dorm packing lists on the Internet and stows them in her purse. She asked her mother, Paris Yegge, for a tutorial in folding T-shirts just like she does it.
In the past few months, Paris Yegge has tried to expose her daughter to the things she always did for her. While waiting for the doctor, Paris Yegge will hand Lauren Yegge the forms and tell her to fill them out. She wants to make sure her daughter knows all the information herself. And Paris Yegge laminated a laundry chart noting what colors and fabrics are washed apart.
“They say freshman year a lot of your stuff ends up pink,” Paris Yegge said while sitting with her daughter at a Perkins Road coffee shop.
“Mom, I know how to wash clothes,” Lauren Yegge said with consternation.
For Lawson, a Denham Springs High School graduate headed to Louisiana College in Pineville, his main concern has been saving money. Playing baseball for the Wildcats, he does not expect to have enough time for a part-time job, so he’s saving his stash during the summer.
Since the start of summer, Lawson has loaded his pickup daily with Washington Parish watermelons and parked at a former Shell station at Sherwood Forest and Coursey boulevards. His sign asked drivers to help send him to “Kollege.”
“Gets a little humor out of people, and it makes it seem like I really do need to go to college,” he said of the sign. “The majority of people like it and give me a thumbs up.”
For 40 hours a week this summer, Kade Loupe has managed Premier Storage in Addis to save enough money to commute from his parents’ house in Brusly to LSU, where he said he hopes to study engineering. He bought a small, used Isuzu truck and opened three bank accounts — one for savings, another for his truck note and a third for checking. He has enough to pay for his Isuzu for a year. Loupe’s parents have stressed learning individual responsibility.
“I want to be smart, try to save money,” he said.
Aside from readying rooms and saving money, counselors and experts agree on a few things freshmen need to know when the semester starts.
College is not high school
When Lauren Yegge learned that her 16-hour schedule meant she would only spend 16 hours a week in classes, all the free time on her horizon excited her.
Then her mother told her the hard truth: Those 16 hours are lectures. You’re expected to spend just as much time reading and studying outside of the classroom.
“One of the biggest things we see people struggling with is the false sense of security with the good grades they got in high school with minimal effort,” said Paul Ivey, executive director of LSU’s University College. “They are not going to get the same returns here that they got at the high school level.”
At the university level, rote memorization is not the goal, Ivey said. College professors want to see that students can apply the information to difficult questions.
New students often rely on cramming two to three hours for exams, Ivey said, but studies show that students can retain a great deal more information by studying a little every day. He said students can double their amount of retention just by reviewing their notes within 24 hours of class rather than learning it all at the last minute.
Ivey also recommends students relearn how to study for math classes. Math is a skill, like playing the piano, he said. To learn the skill, students must regularly work through problems, then maintain the skill by practicing often.
Take care of mind and body
Many freshmen, during their first months away from home, break from their normal routines, Ivey said. Former athletes stop exercising when the semester begins. Students start sampling every fast-food joint bordering the campus. Or, their new social lives become more interesting than classes, and they keep late nights.
Rather than worry just about a larger waistline from the “freshman 15” — the 15 pounds that freshmen often gain during the year — students should understand that a lack of exercise and sleep can affect their capacity to learn.
“Their sleep habits are bad, their eating habits are bad,” Ivey said, “and their brains and bodies are not working that efficiently.”
Ivey advises freshmen to have fun, but also stay healthy, rested and focused on school.
Students in Louisiana and most other states also must get vaccinated before starting classes or moving into campus housing. In Louisiana, college students need proof of immunity against measles, mumps and rubella, and must have had either a booster dose of tetanus-diphtheria or have had the tetanus-diptheria vaccine within the past 10 years, according to the National Vaccine Information Center at http://www.nvic.org. Students living in dormitories need the MCV4 vaccine, which protects against meningitis or bloodstream infections.
Ask for help
Free counseling for academic and emotional stress is now standard on most college campuses. Often, Darrell Ray, assistant vice chancellor of the First Year Experience at LSU, said, students learn about these resources in orientation and forget about them when they could be using them.
“Rather than let someone know, it festers and it could affect them academically,” Ray said.
Commuting students face added challenges. Loupe, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in elementary school and graduated with honors because of hard work, has made contacts this summer with engineering students to start a study group. He worries that living off campus will impede his ability to find study partners.
“It’s something I see as vital,” he said.
Keep yourself, others safe
Lauren Yegge’s father has already given her one going-away present — a can of Mace.
“And he taught me how to use it,” she said.
Safety is her family’s top concern, said Paris Yegge.
At freshman orientation, they learned the basics of college safety.
Lauren Yegge has heard the two tips most commonly directed at young women: cover the top of your drink when at parties or at clubs — to prevent anyone from slipping you drugs — and don’t go out alone at night.
College students often act irresponsibly, Ray said, by leaving their dormitory doors unlocked or ignoring free shuttles the university operates, which allow students to get a ride instead of walking across a dark campus late at night.
Ultimately, Ray said, safety on campus is a shared responsibility, an idea echoed by college safety experts.
“Safety, as a whole, is a community issue,” said Abigail Boyer, assistant director of communications for the Clery Center for Security on Campus. “It’s something that everyone is playing a role in.”
The Clery Center encourages college students to look out for one another. Bystanders should speak up when something doesn’t seem right, Boyer said calling campus security if a man appears to be following a female student jogging at night, or letting a residence hall adviser know if someone goes into another person’s room.
“As a student, I may choose to take extra steps to make sure that I’m safe, but also as bystanders, (students should) get involved,” she said.
College means freedom for most students, but it also means added fiscal responsibility. Lawson realized he would be spending money at Louisiana College this fall, so he decided to spend his summer putting some back.
While universities do not discourage students from working, experts do recommend that students live frugally in order to spend fewer hours working and more time studying.
“If their living expenses are outpacing their income, they will devote more time to work than to their studies,” Ray said.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy, who writes The College Solution, a blog about college finances, recommends students cut costs where they can and avoid student loans to pay for living expenses.
“The more you borrow, the more you’ll be sorry later,” she said. “You don’t have to borrow everything they’re offering.”
She advises students to ditch their computer printers — most colleges have great computer labs with cheap printing — and avoid bringing a car to campus to save on insurance, upkeep and fuel.
“You don’t need a car,” she said. “All the other kids do have cars, so you don’t need one.”
Paris Yegge worries that her daughter will feel disconnected from her family.
“I want to keep her knowing that we’re thinking about her,” Paris Yegge said. “Life gets crazy. I have a ninth-grader and a seventh-grader.”
The close mother-daughter pair plans to email and send picture messages via cellphone often, and use Skype, a free online video message service, to speak face to face.
Paris Yegge expects a few tears and some hard days upon sending her oldest daughter to college two states away, but technology will make it a little easier.
“It’s a lot of cutting that cord,” Paris Yegge said. “Before they’re so dependent, and then suddenly they’re 18.”
Editor’s note: This story was changed on Aug. 6, 2012 to include the full name and title of Darrell Ray, assistant vice chancellor of the First Year Experience at LSU.