Grand Canyon University Offers Tips to Help New Students Navigate Challenges, Thrive In College Environment

Aug 08, 2013, 12:06 ET from Grand Canyon University

PHOENIX, Aug. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As summer draws to a close, incoming freshmen are preparing for their first year of college and the new experiences that await them. For many students, the beginning of college signals independence and friendships, but it can also present challenges, especially for incoming freshmen, according to Sarah Boeder, executive vice president of Grand Canyon University.

GCU has outlined top 10 tips to help freshmen succeed academically and socially, and avoid common pitfalls faced by many students.

For starters, the university suggests that parents and students work together to create a budget.

"College may mark the beginning of financial independence, and a budget will help students avoid money mistakes that could have painful consequences," Boeder said. "Universities like GCU offer assistance to help students plan and stick to a budget."

Boeder also recommends that new students engage in campus life by joining an extracurricular club or sports program, or volunteering in the community with other students.

Among GCU's other top tips:

  • Think carefully about scheduling, which often presents a major challenge in acclimating to college life.

"Students may be tempted to cram all of their classes into just a couple of days or scatter them from morning to night, but such a schedule may become untenable as the semester progresses," Boeder said. "A thoughtfully planned schedule will provide a good balance of time on campus and for other activities."

  • Think carefully about picking a major.  Students who are not sure about their course of study should not rush the decision. Instead, GCU recommends students focus on completing general coursework while taking a few classes in the degree program they're considering in order to make an informed decision about their major.
  • Get to know college professors by visiting them during office hours and participating in class. College instructors will do their part to help students succeed, perhaps even serving as a reference or providing a letter of recommendation down the line.

"Freshman year is full of firsts, and students are bound to make some missteps along the way," Boeder said. "By taking advantage of university resources, staying in touch with parents and friends, and focusing on academic achievement, students will learn to keep their footing in a new environment and truly enjoy the college experience."

Grand Canyon University's 10 Tips for College Success

  1. Plan and stick to a budget to avoid painful financial mistakes.
  2. Engage in campus life to ensure a good mix of academic and social pursuits.
  3. Plan your schedule wisely to balance time between school and other activities.
  4. Don't rush to pick a major. Focus on completing general courses while you take your time choosing your degree program.
  5. Get to know your professors; they may help you with future academic or employment endeavors.
  6. Fight the urge to skip class. Many college grads report this was a significant challenge and recommend new students avoid the habit altogether.
  7. Designate specific days and times to call home to set appropriate expectations between students and parents.
  8. Plan for the holidays and other home visits to ensure parents and students are on the same page.
  9. Find out when midterms, finals, tryouts and other stressful periods are scheduled. Students will appreciate care packages during such times.
  10. Bring along quarters for laundry, lists of necessary household and grocery items, and perhaps your favorite recipe from home to help you ease into living away from your parents.

Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 and is Arizona's premier private Christian university. GCU is regionally accredited and emphasizes individual attention for both traditional undergraduate students and the working professional in seven colleges: the Ken Blanchard College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Theology, the College of Fine Arts and Production, and the College of Doctoral Studies. GCU offers traditional programs on its growing campus, as well as online bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs.  The University's curriculum fuses academic and clinical rigor with Christian values to prepare its students to be skilled, caring professionals. For more information about GCU, visit

SOURCE Grand Canyon University