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College Freshman: Staying On Track

Updated on January 31, 2014
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Dr. Middlebrook is a fiction-writing coach, author (pen name Beax Rivers), online course developer, and former university professor.

Can Colleen Outlast, Outwit, and Outplay, to Get Her Degree, with Honors?

Welcome to the second installment of "Colleen Goes to College.” In this article, our freshman is in her second semester of school, and she's getting more deeply involved in college life. She still has a lot to figure out, but she has survived her first semester, her first four months away from home.

She hasn’t quite figured out what she wants to do with her life, but our freshman, Colleen, is absolutely sure that having a college degree is going to help her to do better in life, no matter what she finally decides to do. She has figured out, too, that college is very different from “the real world.” In many ways, it is a small world of its own that fits inside a bigger world. She has discovered that people in the world of college interact often with people outside of it, often, but usually only for selfish reasons. That's because they have to make contact with the outside world, the world beyond college, to get things they need for college.

The college Colleen is attending is small, but she has heard other students talking about larger colleges and universities that have figured out how to bring a lot of the things she has to venture away from college to get, onto College Island, thereby further lessening the need for contact with inhabitants of the outside world. For example, one student told her about a much bigger university that has a mall, with a variety of retail stores in it, located right on campus, inside the student union. But there’s not one of those in the student union at Colleen’s school. At her school, the student union is a building where students go to meet if they are a member of a club on campus, or they can go there to the book store to purchase textbooks for class. Sometimes she buys school supplies and electronics there too, and every other day she and her roommate go there to eat at a grill-type restaurant, to avoid eating every meal in the campus cafeteria.

Soon it’s near the end of her freshman year and Colleen feels that she now has College Island figured out fairly well. She has made friends, and she's also made a few mistakes, like partying too much and too late some weekends, but she has learned from her mistakes. She still doesn’t know what she wants to major in, but she knows it is not going to be in partying and drinking.

The Hosts of Survivor—College Island

While the game and its rules aren’t announced by Jeff Probst, Survivor—College Island has a variety of hosts in the form of professors, counselors, dorm residential advisers, and administrators of every sort who reside in a tower that is usually called “the administration building.” I know I’m now sort of mixing metaphors (a TV show with a movie), but the administration building, on most college campuses, is often considered, by many students, that is, to be a kind of place that is not entirely unlike Oz. For example, the campus president of the college or university usually works in the administration building, and he or she seems somewhat like the Wizard of Oz. Why? Because there are usually hundreds of workers around the president whose job it is to make sure that as few students as possible end up in his or her office, for any reason. And, strangely enough, students usually manage to get through four or more years of college “paying no attention to the man behind the curtain,” so to speak, unless they do something so awesomely terrible or so awesomely wonderful that they end up in the presence of the top official, the ultimate and official highest host of the game (unless the school is big enough to also have a chancellor, but that’s another story).

Some students become leaders while they are on College Island. Some do it just by having a personality that makes them well liked and popular, while others join clubs and get other people to vote them into leadership positions. Since she has always loved athletics, in her sophomore year at college, Colleen tried and for and became a member of the cheer-leading squad. She became a leader as captain of the squad in her junior year.

Shelter on Survivor—College Island

TV host Jeff Probst’s Survivors, once they get on the island, have to build their own home or shelter. Students on College Island find themselves faced with a similar challenge. Whether they choose to live on campus, in the dorms or in a campus-located apartment, or off-campus, they still must find and create a place they will think of as “home” for many months, or perhaps for all the years they will be on College Island.

Unlike their television show Survivor counterparts, students on Survivor—College Island get to enjoy more than one luxury item while there. Fortunately, students are allowed to arrive on College Island with as many luxury items as they can carry (beg, or borrow). There are many students whose parents provide them with an unlimited supply of cash (in the form of credit cards) that takes care of paying for all their earthly needs. But for most island residents, such a thing is nothing more than a dream. Most must find jobs either on or off the island to help pay the expenses of staying there.

Colleen decided to live in a college dormitory, and was assigned a roommate. After she joined the cheer-leading squad, she was glad she decided to live on campus. Because she had to do her studying and classwork after cheer-leading practice, being on campus made it easier for her to manage her time well.

Be sure to read:

Colleen Goes to College: Freshman Year

Can Colleen Conquer Her Last Two Years of College?

And if you like this, you might also like:

Beax Rivers’ novel, Silver—Currents of Change, Zarah, who finished high school three years earlier than most, is a very young college student. After struggling and fighting to fit in, in high school, she went to college and discovered she had to find a way to fit in there too. As a senior, after winning her “dream internship” working in publishing at a magazine, her life changes dramatically, and once again, she finds herself having to take on, yet again, an extremely tough set of challenges.

© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD


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