By Laura Marx, President/CEO, 518 ElevatED

As I was sitting in my office one afternoon this past August, I was excited to see Derick’s smiling face. We talked for a few minutes about the work he had been doing over the summer and what he was enjoying most during his school break. When the conversation shifted to the new school year, I could see the smile on his face fade as he admitted that his first year in college was more of a struggle than he expected. The thing about Derick, and many of our Scholars, is that he has learned to rise in the face of adversity. So instead of focusing on what happened, we dove into what he thought he could do differently heading into the new school. Derick offered these three pieces of advice, which are valuable for any new or returning college student.

Meet with your professors sooner rather than later

Derick has always been self-sufficient so when he was having difficulty understanding the material in his classes, he thought that if he tried hard enough, he could figure it out on his own. When he got to the point where he realized he needed help, the open office hours to talk with his professors were already filled up. Then he was so far behind that it became harder to catch up. Derick’s advice is not to wait. Depending on the class, lessons often build upon each other so if you are struggling at any point, go see your professor.

Use your campus resources

Derick is part of the HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) on his campus which means he already has extra built-in support and guidance. Even with that, while everyone told him to use the resources available to him, he did not know what those resources were or how it could help. Derick’s advice is if you do not know what you need or where to start, ask your advisor or a professor. Or just try something and if it does not work, try something else.

Ask, then ask again

Derick has never been one to shy away from asking questions. However, even he felt that he did not ask enough. It is through asking questions and getting answers that students can begin to discover what is best for them, whether it is socially or academically. Derick’s advice is to ask questions to everyone and anyone until you have the information you need to keep moving forward.

I am glad I had an opportunity to talk with Derick and share his valuable insight. While there is no one answer that allows all students to have a smooth transition to college, students should try to discover for themselves what will be most effective. As an adult in a student’s life, a little patience and a listening ear can go a long way.