College is a unique time in one’s life. Like middle school, it is often seen as a transition phase. College students, having recently left the K-12 public school system are often reflective about things they wish they had known. Here are five things college students wished that they learned in childhood:
#1 When to ask for help
Students who are not challenged by the material taught in schools rarely need their teacher’s help. If this lack of challenge persists, these students grow up not knowing when or how to ask for help. Teachers, parents, and older siblings should model asking for help politely and in appropriate situations. Students should learn to ask themselves these three questions: Will this task take me more time than warranted if I do it alone? Is there someone I trust who is more knowledgeable around? Is it an appropriate time to ask a question? If the answer to these questions is yes or uncertain, it is an ideal time to ask for help.
#2 How to Self Advocate
Students in college are on their own a lot of the time. They need to learn how to effectively advocate their needs to professors, administrators, and even other students. In order to effectively advocate for themselves, students need to understand themselves and their needs, be able to specify a specific action, behavior, or change that will address their problem, and be able to effectively communicate this to the necessary party. At Math Genie, our reading program helps to develop effective communication skills through weekly practice in public speaking, and in giving and receiving direct feedback.
#3 The Amount of Reading
Many colleges require students to do hundreds of pages of reading in a short time. Students can build up their stamina by reading every day. Reading has countless other benefits, including the ways it helps to build vocabulary, educates, helps with writing and spelling, and reduces stress. There are no drawbacks to reading, and with the wide variety of books available today there are dozens of books to suit everyone’s interest.
#4 Writing is Unavoidable
There is no way to avoid writing in college, even in the most mathematical tracks. It is critical that students learn how to effectively convey their thoughts through writing in a variety of different mediums. Students with weak writing skills may struggle to be understood. At Math Genie, students in the reading program develop their skills as writers, responding to a variety of weekly prompts that oblige students to practice writing for different types of audiences.
#5 Public Speaking
Public speaking often provokes anxiety, especially in those without enough practice. Students in college are expected to speak publicly, either formally as with a presentation, or informally such as with collaboration with a group. There are many facets to good public speaking, such as eye contact, fluency, volume, and tone of voice. The best way to master these skills is through practice. At math genie, students practice their public speaking skills each week and work with their teachers to improve their skills.
There are many skills that adults take for granted. By teaching these skills to children, we can help them succeed in the future.