How to help students with first-year jitters

The newness of a first-year classroom is often intimidating for students. As a first-year instructor, you’re tasked with setting the tone for their college experience.

Let’s deconstruct four ways to eliminate the pressures of a first-year environment:

1. Provide Frequent Feedback
All students can benefit from hearing it often and immediately, especially upon entering new territory. Offering plenty of early guidance will not only set students on the right track academically, but it can reinforce their self-assurance.

2. Cultivate Critical Thinking
Nontraditional students may have a head start in this arena. However, in the high school classroom, critical thinking skills are, too often, only skimmed. Give your students bountiful opportunities to interact with open-ended, thought-provoking, real-world problems that bolster this skill.

3. Encourage Communication
Emphasize the open lines of support available to your students. Invite them to freely communicate with you, their peers, and various campus organizations. It may be the first and only time they’re invited to do so.

4. Clarify Expectations
Many will transition into your classroom unsure of the role they play in their own academic success. Don’t leave any room for misconceptions about what you expect in your course. Spell it out granularly to set a tone of transparency and autonomous learning.


Hawkes Learning provides courses for integrated reading & writing, first-year composition, and corequisite composition. Request a complimentary copy of materials today.

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