Most people’s great-grandparents didn’t go to college. And our few ancestors who did had to be ready: colleges assumed that students were prepared. If not, they struggled; generally alone. We great and great-great grandchildren face a different problem: we’re expected to attend college, ready or not. Fortunately, colleges now offer help.

At White Mountains Community College, Sylvie Pratte coordinates the Academic Success Center. She’s been working with WMCC students for the twenty-seven years since she was one herself. She helps. She also hopes that more students will arrive more-or-less ready. So she has suggestions for those still in school.

Of course, Sylvie deals with problems concerning reading, writing, maths. No one succeeds in college without these academic skills. But she feels that the really big and quite common problems are with life skills: independent judgement, self-help and advocacy, time management…

Parent and college-bound student: “…both need to be thinking whether the fundamentals of life have been mastered… growing up means additional responsibilities at school and within the family, but also additional responsibilities in taking care of  oneself physically and emotionally.” Hopefully we learn, at school and in the family, how to live independently.

Sylvie places great emphasis on time management, in college studies and in life. “Constantly staying up late to finish assignments… will cut into sleeping time… poor time management can move sleep to the bottom of the list of priorities, resulting in fatigue and illness.” “When students do not keep up with their studies, they are less able to understand or engage with new material… [creating]… a bad cycle for their academic performance.” (Some good students simply have a different well-adjusted schedule; their emails are all dated 3:00 AM).

“If students cannot manage their time, they will probably be late for everything, including classes, professors’ office hours, and scheduled appointments.” They won’t look professional. When preparing them for graduation, “…we tell students that people’s impressions of them matter… people do notice…”

WMCC produces superior welders, chefs, health care personnel… and students who transfer their credits into four-year programs elsewhere. Wherever, time will be important. For all of us.

The Success Center was a big help to some of David R Jones’s students. NB Like many teachers, DRJ will be taking the summer off. The Citizen’s Education column will reappear in September.

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