Academic advisors share their favorite advice for students

Freshman year can be a tumultuous transition for new students, writes Stacey Steinberg for the Washington Post.

And as protests, debates, and overwhelmed counseling centers spread across the nation, academic advisors must be prepared to shepherd students through new and different challenges.

Turning to the experts, Steinberg rounds up five types of advice students need to hear.

1: Help students set expectations

In your first conversation with new students, ask them what their college goals and expectations are, recommends Ophir Lehavy, a student success coach at University of Florida (UF).

Their responses may change throughout the year, but advisors can help ground students during stressful times by reminding them how much they've already accomplished, she notes.

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2: Encourage students to practice problem-solving

Freshman year brings a unique set of challenges that may inspire fear and anxiety in students, warns Steinberg.  

But before you intervene on a student's behalf, ask how they would like to be supported, says Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert and family doctor. While you may feel compelled to solve their problems, working through these issues can push students to think critically and cultivate a sense of autonomy, she explains.  

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3: Remind students to keep an open mind  

Familial or societal pressure around majors or grades can leave many students overwhelmed, says Rachel Nelson, an academic advisor at UF.

In addition to encouraging students to develop an open-minded and supportive network, remind them that success will look different for different people, she notes.

4: Raise awareness of mental health resources

Although young adults list mental health as a top concern, many do not know how to access the resources available to them, according to a recent study. To help dispel the stigma around mental health, advisors should ensure students are aware of the resources available and are comfortable seeking help, says Nelson.

5: Let students know that it's okay to fail

College can be an ideal space for students to make their own mistakes, says Jennifer Sager, a mental health expert. Students who struggle or even fail will likely come away from the experience knowing more about themselves, she notes (Steinberg, Washington Post, 9/13).

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