INFORMATION FOR PARENTS OF FRESHMEN
 
In choosing to attend The University of Alabama, your sons or daughters have decided to take a major step forward in their lives, and have opened the doors to an unlimited future for themselves. The first months at The University of Alabama will be an exciting time, a time of learning and a time of growing and maturing. It will be a time of meeting new people, of making new friends, and a time of trying out new ideas and new behaviors. The first few months at college will also be a time of adjusting to living on their own in an adult world. Beginning students must daily deal with many "adult-like" decisions and must learn to balance conflicting demands on how they spend their time. The information that follows is intended to help you, the parents, learn more about the resources that the University provides in order to help make this transition as painless as possible.
 
THE CONFLICTING DEMANDS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

During the first few weeks of the fall semester, students new to UA must learn to adjust to living on their own in a new and exciting environment. Inevitably, students find the demands associated with attending The University of Alabama to be different from the demands of high school, and often different from what they imagined before they arrived here. Many students require at least a semester to adjust to the conflicting demands on their time that they find at a major state university. Students living on their own will not have their parents to remind them to get up in the morning or to do their homework. The responsibility for their actions now rests squarely on their own shoulders. Beginning students quickly learn that they can stay up as late as they want, do what they want to do when they want to do it, and have as much fun as they like. Every day beginning students face decisions that they probably have never faced before. "Should I go to my eight o'clock class or sleep in? Should I read my biology or go out with my friends? Should I do my math homework even though the instructor never collects it? Should I go to my psychology class when I can read the textbook later and learn the material on my own?" Their actions in response to situations like these indicate how they are balancing their newfound freedom with the responsibility associated with college-level coursework.

Many beginning UA students experience what might be termed "academic culture shock" around the end of September. This is the time when they learn the results of their first college tests. Some students discover rather quickly that study skills that may have worked perfectly well in high school do not work nearly as well in college. Many students new to The University of Alabama indicate that they did not have to study much in high school, and that, in spite of this, their grades were usually fairly good. The ability to make good grades without much effort may have been an asset in high school, but, unfortunately, trying to use high school study techniques at The University of Alabama will usually not result in the same outcome.
 
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO HELP?

Parents can do a lot to help ease the uncertainty associated with this difficult transition period. First, and most important, parents need to be supportive of their sons and daughters. This is a difficult time in their lives. They are experiencing many changes in a short time period. They are learning new things about the world and about themselves every day. Parents need to let their know that it is OK to make a few mistakes and experience a few disappointments, but, at the same time, encourage them to set high goals and to work hard to achieve those goals. Second, keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your sons or daughters frequently and ask how things are going. Let them know that they can talk to you about anything; their successes, as well as their setbacks.

Other things that parents can do to help:


Know the classes your sons or daughters are taking and their daily schedules. Ask questions about specific courses.

Ask if they are going to classes regularly. Beginning freshmen miss more classes than any other group of students. Especially inquire about 8:00 a.m. classes.

Ask if they are getting enough sleep. When do they normally go to bed? When do they normally get up in the morning? Sleep deprivation is a big problem with beginning students.

Ask how they are spending their free time. How often do they "go out?" To be successful, students must learn to balance their social and academic lives.

Have they developed daily schedules that include regular study times? To do well, beginning college students should be spending a minimum of 20 hours per week in out-of-class studying.

Are they taking good notes? Are they reading over their notes regularly?

Are they keeping up with their textbook reading assignments? Many beginning students are not.

Encourage students to use the daily planner that they received at freshman orientation. Have they written down test dates and assignment dates?

Parents may want to look at the syllabi from their sons or daughters classes and familiarize themselves with the expectations. Many beginning students need help in developing planning and organizational skills.

Encourage your sons or daughters to speak to their instructors. UA instructors are more than willing to help motivated students.

Encourage your sons or daughters to begin studying well in advance of tests. Last minute cramming is not an effective study strategy.

Encourage your sons or daughters to become involved in campus activities. There are over 300 clubs and organizations on campus. Becoming involved in campus organizations is a good way to meet other students with similar interests.

Talk to your students about money management. Do they have bills that they must pay? Do they have credit cards? What will they do when they run out of money?

Do not accept excuses for poor performance. Low grades at The University of Alabama are usually the result of poor time management and inadequate preparation.

Parents should always feel free to contact the professional staff at The University of Alabama. The Internet is an excellent source of information, but sometimes talking to a "real person" will help to resolve a problem quickly.
 
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE TESTS
 
Every fall semester, hundreds of UA freshmen are shocked and disappointed by their first experience with university tests. Most students who enroll at the University have been good students in high school and are accustomed to performing well on tests. At UA, they will attend their classes, read their textbooks, and study their notes. Yet, in spite of doing these things, many beginning students still do not perform as well as they would like on their tests.

One of the reasons that many beginning university students find tests difficult is that college instructors expect their students to really understand the material. Tests in high school often require only simple recognition or memorization. College tests, on the other hand, require thorough understanding. There is a difference between memorizing a definition and thoroughly understanding a concept. Oftentimes in high school, a student could memorize a bit of information, and then that piece of information would show up exactly the same way on the test. In high school, it might have been possible to merely recognize the correct answer because the other answers seemed obviously wrong.

High school students tend to develop test-taking skills that work well for high school tests but may be inadequate for university-level tests. High school students become good listeners, they become proficient at memorizing definitions, and they learn to recognize terms that their teachers have stressed. They also become good at eliminating obviously wrong answers. Unfortunately, the skills that were developed over many years do not work nearly as well at The University of Alabama and do no substitute for a thorough understanding of the course material. In general, most beginning UA students find that they need to devote much more time and mental effort to the learning process than they did in high school.

Another reason college students find tests difficult is that college tests tend to cover considerably more material than do high school tests. While tests in high school often covered only one chapter (15-20 pages), it is not unusual for college tests to cover three, four, five, or even six chapters (100-200 pages).

The amount of material covered should influence how students prepare for tests. In high school, it may have been possible for a student to review the night before, or possibly even the day of a test, and still perform fairly well. The sheer volume of material covered on college tests dictates that students at UA must spend more than a few hours studying in order to do well. Nevertheless, because "waiting until the night before" worked so well in high school, many beginning university students initially try that method of studying. These students invariably find, however, that they cannot learn a large amount of material in a short amount of time.

Poor grades on college tests should serve as a wake-up call to students and remind them that high school study methods will not work in college. Poor college grades are not an indication of lack of ability or lack of intelligence. They are more often than not an indication of procrastination and lack of preparation.
 
MID-TERM PROGRESS REPORTS
 
Each fall and spring semester freshman at UA will receive mid-term progress reports. These reports will be in the form of letter grades posted on the myBama web site. The grades will indicate the level of student performance at that point in the semester. In many cases, the progress report grade will reflect only one test grade in a course. These progress reports may serve as a reassurance and reward for students doing well, but may also serve as a wake-up call for students who are not meeting instructors´ expectations.

Students who receive mid-term progress grades that are lower than they would like should try to put into practice some of the suggestions listed above. In addition to making changes in their time management and test preparation behaviors, students can make use of a number of campus resources and services that are available to help them perform well academically. Some of these resources, along with their Web links, are listed below.
COMPUTER-BASED MATHEMATICS COURSES

Some beginning UA students will be enrolled in mathematics courses that are computer-based (MATH 005, 100, 110, 112, 121 classes). These courses are conducted in the Math Learning Technology Center (MTLC). The Center makes use of the latest computer hardware and software and is staffed by UA mathematics instructors, graduate teaching assistants, and undergraduate tutors. For more information on the Center and the courses taught, visit the MTLC Web site.

Help with MTLC math courses is always available from the instructors and student tutors who staff the MTLC. In addition, The Center for Academic Success offers individual tutoring as well as group help sessions for courses that are taught in the MTLC.

CAMPUS RESOURCES

Academic Advising Links for the Colleges:
See the appropriate college links at http://ua.edu/academics.html.

Instructors
 All UA instructors keep office hours. This is a time when instructors are available to meet individually with students. Instructors' office hours can be found in the syllabus for the course. Instructors are more than willing to meet with students and discuss problems they might be having in the course.
It is always a good idea for students to meet individually with their instructors, if for no other reason than to let the instructors know who they are. Most instructors also list their e-mail addresses in their syllabi. It is becoming increasingly common for students to communicate with instructors via e-mail.
 
The class syllabus
 The class syllabus is a very important tool that beginning students often overlook. Many students find that a majority of their questions concerning a class can be answered by a careful reading of the syllabus.
 
The Center for Academic Success (formerly the CTL)
The Center for Academic Success (CAS) provides programs and services to help UA students improve study techniques and to succeed in UA courses. Services are free and available to all UA students. Some of the more popular services include free tutoring for selected courses; an independent study/computer lab; a video library of selected UA courses; review and help sessions for math, chemistry, and physics; and reading and study skills workshops. The CAS is located in Osband Hall. Come by, call 205-348-5175, or visit the CAS Web site.
 
Office of Disability Services
 The Office of Disability Services (ODS) serves students who have physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more of life´s major activities. Adequate documentation of the disability from medical professionals is required in order to receive services. Students with disabilities are responsible for informing the University about their disabilities and the need for accommodations. The Office of Disability Services is located in room 113B Martha Parham East. For more information or for answers to specific questions, call 205-348-4285 or visit the Office of Disability Services Web site.
 
Student Support Services
Student Support Services (SSS) is a comprehensive federally funded program that offers academic assistance to 200 undergraduate students. Students can become a participant at any point in their undergraduate careers. There is no charge for services provided to students. The goal of Student Support Services is to increase retention and graduation rates of eligible students through academic assistance, counseling, advising, and other services. For further information contact Student Support Services in room 225 Osband Hall (205-348-7087) or visit the Web site.
 
Student Health Center
 The University of Alabama provides comprehensive, high-quality, easily accessible, and economical health care for its students through the Student Health Center (SHC). The SHC is located at 750 5th Avenue East, adjacent to the UA Medical Center and next to the Rec Center Tennis Courts. The SHC is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. The SHC can meet most, though not all, medical needs of University of Alabama students.
The center includes a large outpatient facility and services include counseling, women's health, pharmacy, clinical laboratory, X-ray, health education and wellness, and medical records. RSHC employs a highly competent staff of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, psychologists, and laboratory technicians. For more information visit the web site.
 
Counseling Center
The Counseling Center assists students in attaining their personal and academic goals, thereby making their time at The University of Alabama as productive as possible. The Counseling Center provides a variety of emotional health services to enrolled University students. The Center provides confidential private and group counseling sessions, as well as substance abuse counseling, crisis counseling, and psychiatric consultation. The Counseling Center is located in the Russell Student Health Center, room 225. To schedule appointments, or to talk to a professional staff member, call 205-348-3863.
 
Career Center
The Career Center, located on the third floor of the Ferguson Center, room 330, should be your starting point when trying to find out anything related to jobs or employment. The Sylvester Jones Leadership and Career Resources Center, located adjacent to the Career Center, contains a wealth of information about specific jobs, the employment outlook for various careers, and the job search process. The staff at the Career Center includes a number of professionals who are available to talk to students regarding their career goals and options. To talk to a career counselor, it is best to call and schedule an appointment (205-348-5848).
 
The Writing Center
The Writing Center located in 322 Lloyd Hall offers free help for freshman composition classes (205-348-5049).
 
The University of Alabama Undergraduate Catalog
 The most important book that students will own during their stay at The University of Alabama will be the University Undergraduate Catalog. This single document contains a wealth of information on just about every facet of the University. The catalog contains information that will answer many of your questions concerning such things as student records, transfer of credit, grading policies, grade point averages, academic suspension, the core curriculum, tuition and fees, financial aid, student support programs, student code of conduct, and student organizations. The Undergraduate Catalog also contains information concerning academic programs and departments, as well as the requirements for the various degrees that the University offers. The catalog you receive as a freshman will serve you the entire time you are an undergraduate at UA. Refer to it often. The Undergraduate Catalog is also available on-line.
 
More Useful Links:
Academic Records and University Registrar
Campus Activities
Computer Center Help Desk
Financial Aid
Housing and Residential Communities
Information for Freshmen
Parking Services
University Recreation
 
Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drop a course I am not doing well in?
Maybe. It is best to talk to an academic adviser concerning the possible implications of dropping a class. Do not rely on the advice of friends. In order to be considered a full-time student, you must be enrolled for at least 12 hours. Also, dropping classes can impact financial aid.


Will the mid-term progress report grades go on my permanent record?
No. The purpose of these grades is to let you know how you are doing in a course early enough in the semester so that you can make changes if necessary. The only grades that will appear on your transcript are the ones reported at the end of each semester.


Where can I find a CAS tutor for a class I am having trouble with?
The Center for Academic Success (Osband Hall) provides tutoring for some classes (particularly problem solving classes like math). Some colleges (particularly the College of Engineering) and academic departments also provide out-of-class help for certain courses. Check with your instructor.


I never studied much in high school, and now I find I do not know how to study for college courses. What can I do?
The Center for Academic Success has staff members who can help you to develop college study skills. The CAS also offers study skills workshops on topics such as Preparing for Tests, Reading Textbooks, Memory Techniques, and Time Management.


Where can I find help with my writing?
The Writing Center, located in 322 Lloyd Hall (205-348-5049), offers free help with writing.


There are too many distractions! I cannot study. What can I do?
Sometimes it is necessary to be assertive. Learn to say no to distractions. It may be necessary to remove yourself from the distractions entirely. Many upper level students find it necessary to go to the library when they have important studying to do.


How can I find or talk to my instructor outside of class?
Instructors give their contact information and office hours in their class syllabi. This is a time when instructors are available to talk to students. You may want to call first and make an appointment or use e-mail.


Is there any hope of bringing up my grades?
Yes, as long as you do not wait too long. This will probably require that you make significant changes in the way that you have been spending your time (2 hours of studying for every hour spent in class). Do not let your opinion of the course or the instructor influence the amount of studying you do and do not procrastinate!


If my grades are low at the end of the fall semester, will I flunk out?
No. Academic suspension only takes place at the end of the spring semester in May. If you are a beginning freshman (having earned less than 31 hours) and at the end of the spring semester your overall UA grade point average is below a 1.5, you will be suspended for one semester. Consult the UA Undergraduate Catalog and see an academic advisor for specific information concerning satisfactory academic progress.


How do I find my advisor?
All UA colleges have academic advisors. You will need to go to the student services office for your college (A&S, C&BA, etc.). See the section above on mid-term Progress Reports and Campus Resources for specific locations and web sites.


I think I may have a learning disability. What can I do?
Contact the Office of Disability Services located in Martha Parham East (call 205-348-4285 or visit their web site at http://ods.ua.edu).


My class is so boring, I cannot pay attention! What can I do?
You can do several things. First, make sure you are getting enough sleep. It is hard to concentrate when you are tired. Second, if possible, sit near the front of the class. Being close to the instructor helps you to stay focused. Third, take many notes. Writing forces you to pay attention and concentrate. Fourth, read the assigned material before class. That way you will be familiar with the new material.


My textbooks are boring and hard to read. I can never make myself read more than a few pages. What can I do?
Do something while you read. Take notes, underline, highlight, look up unfamiliar words. Read aloud if you have to. Try to really learn something while you read. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and most importantly, do not read in bed.


Take some time to browse the collection of CAS General and Study Skills Flyers.
 
 
 
The University of Alabama
Center for Academic Success
Osband Hall
(205) 348-5175
www.CAS.ua.edu