Finding Balance September 2013
How does my student find balance in the demands of college life?
A Personal Experience
The Baylor experience is personal-professors who know your name, lifelong friendships, access to meaningful programs that you don't find everywhere else. So it's fitting that the experience for students who make use of the Paul L. Foster Success Center is personal as well.
"Any student needing help or needing to find any resources should come to me so I can help them," Trish Baum said. As resource coordinator, she has dealt with the wide breadth of issues faced by students in her time at the Success Center. "When they come to me, we talk, make calendars and discuss the issues they face. During these conversations, other issues often come out besides grades -- roommates, time management, all of these types of things. We get to know students on a personal level to understand how best to help."
Once a student recognizes how different aspects of college life affects him or her, Trish said the secret to balance is actually fairly simple. Students need to plan and have a realistic view of the demands of the schedule they want to keep-and recognize how it will affect their grades.
Trish's favorite saying is "one life-changing event at a time." Students often don't think about the impact of adding commitments to their already-busy schedule.
"You want to join a sorority and your grades are good enough? Great. Do it," Trish said. "But I don't like it when students come in wanting to do four or five things at once. If you can handle one and keep your grades up, then add another next semester. Or you want to add a part time job? Think about how many hours you can work, and how it will affect your classes. This is advice I give my own daughter."
As those conversations take place, Trish and the students take practical steps to help them get a clear-eyed view of the work they need to do.
"We make a study calendar and I chart out their courses," Trish explains. "Then we look at their work, or activities, and I show them where to study. We first put in what you have to do-class-then what we need to do-study. Once you take care of those, then you can have your fun or relaxing time. After we do the calendar, I ask questions like, 'How do you study?' or 'Where do you study?' and we discuss learning styles and learning environments."
A visit with Trish is only the first step in the personalized service the Success Center offers to Baylor students. From there, they can be assigned to the services that best suit their needs.
One potential service that could benefit your student is mentoring.
"I like to call mentors our big brothers and big sisters," Trish said. "They've already received their undergraduate degree. They're graduate students here at Baylor and they can help because they've just finished the whole undergraduate process. They know the ins and outs, they know how to manage time and be affiliated in organizations and participate in activities and still maintain their G.P.A."
Students who work with a mentor receive verbal coaching in planning, prioritizing and time management.
"Mentors will look at your student's syllabi, make out a calendar and then guide them through the hard spots," Trish explained. "They may say, 'You want to be a part of homecoming, but you have two tests the following week. Let's prepare for this.' Mentors help students control the things that they can control."
The Success Center's mentors all have strengths in different areas, so Trish can match students up with a mentor that can best help your student.
"Getting a mentor can be as simple as saying, 'I want a mentor,'" Trish said. "We have mentors from a variety of undergraduate degrees, so I find one that will work well. Or a student may say, 'I am horrible at time management,' so I match them with mentors who are strong in that area."
Balance in the midst of college life may seem elusive, but it doesn't have to be. As parents, you can encourage your student to seek the help they need before an emergency arrives.
"You come to Baylor, and it's all excitement," Trish said. "Students don't think, 'I'll have challenges along the way.' Parents can gently encourage them to take advantage of services and resources that can make a huge difference for their child."