The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

5 Tips for Thriving in Your College Freshman Year

Guest blogger Heather Johnson supplies these tips for college success and completion

Freshman year is the most challenging year of college. Chances are you’re leaving home, perhaps far away, for the first time. Your lifestyle will be completely different than it was living at home. You have to grow accustomed to a scattered schedule of classes and the coursework that will be more intellectually challenging than anything you experienced in high school. The important thing to keep in mind is that you’ve prepared yourself for this new, exciting experience and you will succeed. Here are five tips to help you along the way:

1. Organization breeds discipline. You’re coming from high school where teachers usually laid everything out for you as far as assignments and reading schedules. In college, you’ll have to plan your work load according to your other classes and how much time you have to devote to each course. This can be difficult because you will have a lot of down time when you’re not in class and the temptation to hang out and meet new friends is tough to avoid. Socializing is a major part of college, but remember why you’re really there.
2. Pick the right place to study. Studying in your dorm room can be a challenge to say the least. There is so much going on around you that you’re bound to be distracted. Find that corner of the library you can call your own. If you can study in peace then you’ll save yourself so much time down the road.
3. Talk to your professors. If you regularly talk with your professor after class or through email you’ll glean so much more from them than merely sitting in class and taking notes. You can talk to them when you feel unsure about an assignment or just need some of the material explained more thoroughly. They relish the opportunity to deal with their students in this fashion. Take advantage.
4. Attend class. I’m sure this sounds obvious but you need to get to class. It can be mighty tempting to sleep through your 8 A.M. class but you’ll pick up so much by just sitting in the classroom. Obviously, it’s better if you’re proactive when you get there and participate but the mere act of sitting in the classroom each meeting will help you out immensely.
5. Use the college’s resources. Your college will have tutors, learning centers and upper classmen that have excelled in certain majors available to help you. Don’t be shy and think that it’s a sign of weakness if you need a crutch. These resources exist to make you the best student you can be. Your tuition is going to pay for these tools, so you might as well use them!


This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who is an industry critic on the subject of scholarships for college. She invites your feedback at:


Copyright 2006 My College Puzzle