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CofC freshmen navigate transition, struggles with help of campus resources

by English Brown

Life transitions are tough no matter what.

And going from high school to college can be even more challenging because there are so many changes. 

It’s the first time many students are away from home, exploring their independence while navigating a completely new environment.

“Here you have to live on campus, do for yourself, go to classes, back to the dorm,” College of Charleston freshman Jadriel Johnson said.

Talia Griffin, another freshman, definitely found the transition to college harder than the transition to high school.

“It was hard because it is a new environment and having to find new resources,” she said. 

Students learning to adapt to a new environment can be difficult, but CofC has designed specific campus resources with its signature First Year Experience program just for freshmen.

All freshmen take an academic FYE course for credit that helps familiarize students with the college and teaches the students information literacy so they can learn research skills, critical thinking skills, computer technology skills, and communication skills.

Faculty at The College train peer facilitators who teach the course to help students navigate campus, course requirements and develop skills to help academically and socially.

“The primary purpose is to help students, particularly freshmen, transition from life in high school to life in college,” said peer facilitator Reid Hembree. “The whole point of this program is to help them be successful in a college setting.”

Inside the academic course, students are becoming familiar with campus resources such as Addlestone Library, Career Center, and Center for Student Learning to help them navigate throughout their college career.

Transitioning to college is already challenging but for students of color, the transition can be even more daunting.

CofC has created the Multicultural Students Program & Service building to support the social, academic, and cultural development of students from diverse backgrounds.

“There is the MSPS building that hosts events for first-year students, minorities and it is a setting for you to come out,” Johnson said.

The MSPS provides a summer academic and transition program called SPECTRA for incoming diverse CofC first-year students. The students come to campus before classes start to experience college life before everyone descends upon campus for the new semester.

“SPECTRA students are ahead because they are getting a look at the college experience before the semester,” Rachel said.

Along with living on campus they are attending two-college level courses, participating in social activities to help build relationships with other incoming freshmen, and instructional workshops.

Another set of students who often have a tough transition is first generation college students.

“One of the biggest things they lack is the example,” Harris said. “It is probably because it is harder to navigate access to receive help.”

CofC freshman Rosana Ching acknowledged that being a first generation student puts a lot of pressure on her.

“Since I’m not only a first generation, I am also an only child and because of that a lot of pressure is put on me to do good in everything I do,” she said.  

For students who are experiencing the pressure of being a first-year generation student, The College has a student wellness and well-being office. 

“I know resources like Center for Sudent Learning, and the mental Health facilty on campus help first generation students as other groups,” Ching said.

Inside the Office of Student Wellness and Well-Being there are support groups of wellness such as emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual that help students cope with their responsibilities as freshmen.

The multiple resources that benefit the CofC freshmen on campus help make the transition easier. Programs such as First-Year Experience, Center for Student Learning, Multicultural Center, Academic Advising and Planning Center are all assets to first-year students.

“Choosing to come to the College of Charleston was very beneficial, and their resources here on the small campus make it better to learn,” freshman Talia Griffin said.

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