One of the issues the students referenced was that their need for information has to be balanced with the amount of information available. When the students discussed their need for more ongoing support from members of the university this did not mean that they wanted more paperwork. The amount of information available online or in a paper format such as posters, postcards, handouts, leaflets, etc. was overwhelming for the students. Most students did not read the information because there was too much of it available. But not information about who can offer book report writing services. As a result, they did not pay attention to what was provided as they did not want to bother sifting through that much information day after day. What the respondents said they wanted is less and more focused information that reflects their needs. For example, they want to hear about preparing for exam workshops the week before exams start and about note-taking workshops after their midterms once they realize that the types of notes they are taking in their classes is not working for them.
Universities need to provide a level of support for first-year students to help them feel like they belong in their new educational institution. We cannot expect first-year students to know everything they need to know about being university students in two short months. In June they are high school students with all of the supports in place and two months later they are university students with no obvious or practical supports available. It is not reasonable for university institutions to expect first-year students to be able to navigate the new system without providing the assistance that students say they want and need. Universities often take for granted that students can figure things out on their own but the students said they can’t, not without a lot of ongoing support provided. The students also requested that some workshops be tailored just for first-year students. Once students reached their second year they reported that things got easier because they had figured out the system. However, these same students emphasized that their first- year of university was very difficult for them because they felt like they didn’t know anything which led to a lack of self-esteem. This lack of confidence stopped them from seeking help.
Students also expressed their wish that their first-year instructors would be more patient with their questions, forgive their lateness getting to class at the beginning of the term, and be more tolerant with their seeming lack of understanding. It is all so new to them and for instructors, it is just another day. Students deserve respect and understanding for the difficulties that they are encountering on a daily basis and instructors have to be willing to offer that understanding rather than condemning them for trying to fit in when they don’t know how to fit in. The experiences they have in each individual classroom, and the university at large, can make the difference between successfully completing their courses or failing and dropping out.