Clean Slate Full of Academic Possibilities

Before leaving their homes for Emerald City, many freshmen circled their suitcases, sure as an empty stroller they were leaving something behind. Toothbrush? Check. Frisbee? Check. Fuzzy elastic lamp? Affirmative. High school grades? Don’t bother

Before leaving their homes for Emerald City, many freshmen circled their suitcases, sure as an empty stroller they were leaving something behind.

Toothbrush? Check.

Frisbee? Check.

Fuzzy elastic lamp? Affirmative.

High school grades? Don’t bother yelling for mom; your high school grades were erased the moment you were accepted to Temple. For some, this is seen as a second chance; a chance to show that, with the right motivation, mainly the kind that drains your bank account, you can, in fact, outdo Poindexter. Poindexter, meanwhile, begins to wonder whether grades ever really mattered if your lobotomized ass is sitting next to him in freshmen seminar. Consequently, a dejected Poindexter is next seen doing keg stands hours before his exam.

This paradox may suggest only two outcomes, but the transition from high school to college can cause students to veer off in a multitude of directions. The structure of classes is much different than high school. Lectures are usually solitary discourses that are meant to engage 200 students, however, with the monotonous droning and the poor backlighting, tend to provide the perfect setting to snooze. Chris Parsons, a freshman engineering major, said his classes have been interesting so far, or at least when compared to high school.

“I was bored. Days were long. I would get tired and look forward to lunch,” said Parsons,18, who confessed to being a “C, C+ student” in high school. “I wouldn’t really be paying attention to what the teacher was saying. I like the structures of the classes better.”

A freshman’s sudden independence tests one’s focus, said Shirley Felder, the academic advisor of Student Affairs. Reynolds said he was going to change his priorities.

“In high school I pushed homework and stuff last and think of my friends first, but now homework is more in the forefront, because I’m interested in it more so I want to get it done and still hangout with my friends.”

According to the College Student Journal, prior studies conducted on the relationship between a student’s high school GPA and their freshman year show a positive correlation. However, the same article in the Journal also mentioned that 40 percent of college students will leave their higher education institution without receiving a degree. Of that number, 75 percent leave within the first two years of college. The two most common reasons for leaving included a lack of personal educational financing and a failure to cope with the demands of a college student lifestyle.

Erica Baiocco, junior criminal justice major, said she has never had a problem with grades, but her roommate during her freshman year did. Baiocco said her roommate, who she chose not to identify, earned straight A’s in high school, but failed to make more than five college classes. She did not meet the grade and was placed under academic discharge.

“She was on a scholarship,” Baiocco, 20, said. “Now she works at Target.”

Dr. Erin Horvat, professor of urban education, said there is a thin line between being a dedicated student and a dropout, and with the right guidance, you can be swayed to the former.

“I think that students who are successful are those who truly engage in the intellectual work of their courses, get to know their faculty and seek help the minute they need it,” said Dr. Horvat. “At Temple we do not feel we have succeeded unless our students do, and so we will do everything in our power to help them, but there is not much you can do if the student does not ask for help or asks too late in the semester — like right before the final exam.”

Jane Slotterback is the one of the people troubled students should talk to. The academic advisor has encountered many students who withdraw from a class for various reasons, such as underestimating the workload and difficulty of a class, or just a result from changing majors. Although most people wait until after midterms to withdraw, she said most students come into a class with high expectations.

“There are students who come in because their parents wanted them to come in, but for the most part they come in because they expect to do well,” Slotterback said.

Katie Theriault, a freshman journalism major, said that students who had trouble in high school may encounter more problems focusing on academics without any parental figure checking up regularly.

“I’d think it would be hardier for them [to slack off] because they’re so used to it and it’s a lot easier to do it here than it is in high school,” said Theriault, who earned a 3.4 GPA in high school. “You have a lot more freedom; you don’t have anybody checking up on your schoolwork.”

The College Student Journal wrote that “the presence of parental social support is positively related to college achievement.” While a parental source of support is helpful, a student must not rely on others for high marks.

“More than any other time in their academic careers, students starting college are now responsible for their own learning,” said Dr. Horvat. “The students who understand that and take advantage of all their college or university has to offer, both inside and outside the classroom, will be more likely to succeed.”

Students are often too concerned with making the grade, that they forget why they are in school – to learn. Thomas Bena, a freshman sports management major, said grades play a huge role in getting a good job, but a degree rings hollow without being able to demonstrate your learning.

“I think you have to keep a high scholarship. The job force will be looking at your grades in high school, as well as in college,” said Bena, a high school honors student. “If you’re automatically different in college, it kind of affects your lifestyle when you try to get a job.”

Marta Rusek can be reached at

Staff Writer Steve Wood contributed to this article.

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