Although all students deserve focused attention and guidance, first-year students may need special assistance in adjusting to the demands of the university. Whether they come from high school, community college, or other universities, students new to CWRU will encounter new demands and difficulties in academic performance and social adjustment. Students who are new to the United States will face additional challenges. The following sections offer advice for helping new students adjust to the CWRU environment and may be especially helpful to instructors of classes which are composed primarily of freshmen or transfer students.
Teaching students to be students
One of the greatest challenges new students face is adapting to the rigorous academic demands of CWRU. Students entering CWRU are among the most intelligent you will encounter; in recent years, three-quarters of the students have been in the top ten percent of their graduating classes, and SAT combined scores range from 1240 to 1440 for the middle 50% of the class. However, because they are so intelligent, many have not had to work very hard for good grades before arriving at college. Students for whom academic achievement has come easily may not have learned the study skills and habits that will be necessary for success in university courses. The relative freedom of the college environment, where some students are removed for the first time from the discipline they have known at home, will tempt many to spend their free time idly and skip classes without strict attendance requirements. The lower grades that inevitably result from such behavior will be a rude shock to students who have been accustomed to earning high grades with little effort
Be alert to student difficulties in your classes, especially in sections which are composed primarily of freshmen. If you see students struggling or failing to complete assignments or attend class, do not hesitate to intervene. You may choose to review fundamental study skills or reinforce the importance of completing the reading or homework assignments. Or, you may wish to refer students to Educational Support Services at 368-5230 for assistance with study skills and time management. In particular, point out that hard work is a reasonable expectation for students, not a sign that they're not as bright as they thought they were.
Grading in the freshman year--"Freshman Forgiveness"
Freshman students in their first two semesters of college enrollment are eligible for what is known informally among students as "Freshman Forgiveness." This special grade category is explained in detail in Chapter Four, Midterms and Semester's End.
Many first-year students are new not only to CWRU but to the United States. In addition to the challenges of academic expectations and living away from family and friends, international students must adapt to American cultural norms and social practices. Many may find that their English language skills are not as strong as they thought, or are not up to the demands of heavy reading, formal lectures, and daily conversation with Americans with differing accents. Some will find the American university system very different from the educational systems of their native countries.
In discussion classes, you may find that international students are hesitant to speak up or ask questions. This may be because they lack confidence in their English usage. It may also be because they come from cultures where questioning the teacher, volunteering in class, and demonstrating one's skill in front of peers are considered inappropriate. In either case, take time to explain your expectations for class participation and to encourage students to speak up. If you have a large number of international students, you may wish to discuss these and other aspects of American cultural and educational practice in class; if only a few individuals seem to be having difficulty, arrange conferences with them.
All international students must attain a certain minimum score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to be accepted to CWRU. However, many students find that using English regularly in the American classroom is more difficult than reading and writing English on a standardized test. If you find students are having difficulty with English and thus are having difficulty in the classroom, consult with them individually. You can refer students to the Writing Center in Bellflower House, where they can attend tutoring sessions to improve their English. You should also alert the student's adviser to any problems you notice.
If you find that international students in your classes appear to be having problems which are not solely academic in nature, refer them to the International Student Services Office in Sears 210, 368-2517. There students can get help with housing, legal, financial, and social issues, and with immigration procedures.
Students who need further assistance
The following resources are available for students who have difficulties which are not practical or appropriate for you to address. First-year students may be unaware of these resources until referred by an upperclassman or faculty member.
University Counseling Services
University Counseling Services (UCS) provides individual, group, and couples counseling for undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students and their spouses. The staff of psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists respect the student's need for confidentiality and, therefore, will not disclose information to any other person without the student's written consent except in cases of imminent danger.
Walk-in counseling is available every day at 3:00 p.m.
Instructors who are concerned about a student's well-being are welcome to call UCS for advice on how or whether to approach the student. UCS is located in Sears 201, 368-5872.
Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction
The Office of Educational Support Services offers free tutoring for students enrolled in most undergraduate courses except ENGL 148 and 150. Students can avail themselves of several modes of tutoring. Individualized tutoring is available to students who prefer more personalized attention. Request forms for individual tutors are available from ESS in Kelvin Smith Library. Instructors are required to sign the student's request form before a tutor will be assigned; this is to ensure that faculty are aware of student difficulties and that students have taken all possible steps within the class before turning to the assistance of a tutor. Walk-in tutoring is available for students enrolled in the introductory math and science courses. The Walk-In Tutoring Centers are open weekday afternoons in Kelvin Smith Library and Tuesday and Thursday evenings on both North and South sides of campus. In addition, Supplemental Instruction (SI), a form of group tutoring and review, is also available for students enrolled in introductory math, chemistry, and biology courses. Educational Support Services is located in Kelvin Smith Library, 368-5230.
Tutors hired by ESS are required to obtain permission from the appropriate academic department, usually from the particular course's instructor, before starting to work. Instructors are encouraged to recommend outstanding students as tutors.
The Writing Center
The Writing Center, operated by the English Department, offers writing instruction free of charge to undergraduates in thirty-minute one-on-one tutoring sessions. Most tutoring is done on a weekly appointment basis, although limited walk-in time is available. Students may also have papers for specific courses critiqued with the permission of the instructor. The Writing Center is located in Bellflower House, Room 100; the phone number is 368-3798.
International Student Services
The Office of International Student Services assists all international students with non-academic concerns, including immigration procedures as well as housing, legal, financial, social, and cultural considerations. International Student Services is located in Sears 210, 368-2517.
Students with permanent or temporary disabilities can be assisted by the Educational Support Services Office (ESS). Students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, or those with a history of mental illness are eligible for special services and are assisted with appropriate supplies and accessibility to classes, programs, and resources. Campus-wide transportation is available to all eligible students, including those with temporary problems due to injury or short-term illness. ESS also operates a Sight Enhancement Center as part of its Electronic Learning Center. For more information contact the Disability Services Coordinator in the ESS Office, Kelvin Smith Library, 368-5230.
All freshmen are assigned a faculty adviser by the Dean for Freshmen. This adviser, most frequently a faculty member of an academic department in which the student has indicated some interest, assists students with course selection and oversees each student's academic progress. When students declare a major (usually the second semester of the freshman year), they are assigned a departmental adviser who is a faculty member in the selected department. Additional faculty provide special counseling to students who plan to pursue admission to professional studies in dentistry, law, medicine, or nursing, or who plan to participate in the Junior Year Abroad. Academic Advising is coordinated by Undergraduate Studies in Baker 102, 368-2928.
Career Planning & Placement
Career Planning and Placement assists students and alumni with career development and employment. They offer career counseling and evaluation, and can be a particularly helpful resource for students are dissatisfied with their intended majors or career goals. Occupational information, directories for identifying employers, announcements of job vacancies nationwide, and graduate school information are all available, as is individual counseling focusing on career and academic decisions. Career Planning and Placement is located in Sears 206, 368-4446.
Chapter Five: Students With Disabilities
Chapter Seven: If You Leave the University
Table of Contents