This is not a comprehensive list of all milestones, but rather key messages for first year students. Please see Common Monthly Messages available on the Resource Hub main page.
Getting Students Connected:
More specifics are on the Common Monthly Messages Main Page.
- Getting connected to their college learning management platforms – and community – is critical to student success.
- Ensure students are connected to their schools’ platforms, portals, and email accounts and that they check them regularly.
- Students should register for and attend their orientations.
- Ensure students have been assigned an academic advisor, and that they reach out and connect. Talk about ways to feel empowered getting to know advisors and faculty and asking for help.
- Familiarize students with the free resources available to them, including tutoring, writing help and paper review, career centers, and more.
- ★ TIP: Spend time with students differentiating between advisors and coaches, etc.
- Encourage students to connect to their school community by exploring student groups, college events, and social gatherings (even virtually). Assist students in finding a social outlet that connects with something they are interested in or with which they identify (this may include Success Boston student groups).
- Talk with students about their degree-completion goals and timeline and if possible, encourage students to attend full-time. Students who enroll full-time are more likely to graduate than those who attend part-time. Full-time means taking an average of at least 15 credits per semester (although the FAFSA requirement for full-time is 12 credits per semester). Most associate degree programs require 60 credits to graduate, while most bachelor’s degree programs require 120 credits to graduate. When planning for the fall, consider students’ goals, needs, and obligations outside of school – and assist with problem-solving and setting up for success.
- Ideally at the outset, consider students’ potential eligibility for programs like the Mayor's Tuition Free Community College program and Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Commitment, which have GPA and full-time enrollment requirements – and offer significant savings and transfer benefits. Discuss transfer plans early.
- Continuous enrollment among students attending four-year institutions is a significant predictor of six-year graduation rates. Students who have fewer than two “stop-out” periods within five years of postsecondary education have higher rates of postsecondary success than their counterparts with two or more “stop-outs.” If students maintain enrollment semester-to-semester, they will have a better chance of graduating on time and saving money.
Career Planning and Work
- Goal Setting & Career Mapping: Open and early conversations with students about longer term goals for their life, career, and degree can help with both putting together a postsecondary completion plan, and with identifying areas where they may need support problem-solving.
- Internships often lead to better career pathways, are crucial for some industries, and in some cases can be paid opportunities. Many summer internships have application deadlines in the fall. Begin searching for a summer internship in the fall to increase chances of landing a good internship.
- ★ TIP: Students don’t always have to choose between earning money and internship experience in their fields of interest. Look into college-offered and other stipends and grants for “unpaid” internships, as well as programs such as Bunker Hill Community College’s Learn and Earn.
- Encourage students to not to work more than 20 hours per week during the school year. Students should go to school full-time and work part-time OR work full-time and go to school part-time – doing both full-time is very difficult to manage and not recommended. Research shows that students who work more than 20 hours per work while taking a full course load often struggle to do well and ultimately take longer to obtain their degree (if at all).
Planning for Academic Success
- Students should create a study plan that includes when, how, and where they will work and build this into their weekly schedule. They should use a calendar (Google, Outlook, Apple, etc.) to manage time well.
- For mastery and comprehension of material, learning is slow and takes time and hard work. Students should expect to study a minimum of two to three hours for every hour spent in class. For a full-time student, 30 hours a week is the average.
- Help students identify the resources available on campus to help with time management and studying. Support students as they find ways to balance responsibilities between school, work, and life.
- Students should know their GPA and whether they are making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to remain eligible for financial aid and to remain at their college. At most institutions, students are required to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to remain eligible for financial aid and in good academic standing. While students may try to appeal SAP, those who do not perform well academically can end up on academic probation and risk failing out of college.
- ★ TIP: SAP generally consists of maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale and passing enough classes with progress toward a degree. The maximum timeframe requirements typically limit financial aid eligibility to no more than three years for an associate’s degree and no more than six years for a bachelor’s degree.
Selecting a Major
- Students should make a well-informed decision about their major and select one that they enjoy and provides good career options.
- Encourage students to explore majors and careers by reaching out to academic advising and career services, using search tools, and connecting with people in their fields of interest.
- Students should build a plan to take classes that add up to a major and ensure that core classes are covered. If students are required to take developmental courses, take them early.