Students overcome academic challenges with support from Cal State Fullerton

In 2018 Welcome Titans Guide, Opinion
A student sees her reflection in the mirror. Looking back at her are three versions of herself. On the left, she's a scientist in a lab coat. On the right is a businesswoman in a suit. In the middle, is a graduate adorned in cap and gown holding a diploma.

The first year of college can be exciting, intimidating and overwhelming. Incoming freshmen may wonder if they should find their classes before the first day, or whether they should have purchased their textbooks already.

Students also hope Cal State Fullerton can help them find answers to big questions like what careers they are suited for. Getting your bearings straight, goals set and priorities defined is a prerequisite for staying sane.  

To get through it, students need to pay attention, take advantage of free on-campus resources and devote time to their academics.

Students need to take as many classes as possible each semester to graduate in four years, which often leads to mixing general education with upper-division courses. Studying time may be split across five different subjects. This combined with a series of papers and exams all sinisterly timed to coincide on the same week can lead to feelings of inadequacy or unpreparedness.

Fortunately, students have access to a variety of academic support programs like student success teams specific to each college, which provide support for those facing academic challenges.

Emeline Yong, assistant dean of student affairs for Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, leads the college’s academic support programs and student life which includes clubs and activities.

“We’re here to help students navigate through the college, through the university, just to help make their experience valuable here and meaningful,” said Yong, who’s been in the position for 12 and a half years.  

Yong also teaches university 100, a course designed to help undeclared freshmen navigate a major and answer practical questions about what they should do to succeed academically.  

Juniors in the business college may have Yong for a class called professional and career development. The course focuses on improving soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, professionalism and etiquette.  

Yong said these skills are useful for students in any field, and the course qualifies as an upper-division elective for nonbusiness students interested in it as well. During the semester, all of her students are required to attend a job fair to help expose them to the professional world.

Junior year is the time students begin specializing in their field of choice, and like marriage, it’s intended to be a lifelong commitment. Upper-division courses are significantly more challenging than most general education courses, and the increased difficulty can catch complacent students off guard.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, the university offers free tutoring for all levels. Freshmen and sophomores may be interested in visiting the University Learning Center, a tutoring center that focuses on helping undergraduate students through their general education requirements.  

For curriculum-specific tutoring, students have access to the Writing Center, Math Tutoring Center, Mihaylo College of Business and Economics Tutoring Center, and Center for Academic Support in Engineering and Computer Science.  

Each major has courses that are notoriously difficult to pass. These bottleneck courses in the curriculum can result in high failure rates and are often in high demand.

One program called Supplemental Instruction is available to students at no cost to help them pass these notoriously hard classes. These sessions convene outside regular class times throughout the semester.

The most important thing students can learn during their time at CSUF comes from actively engaging with their environment. Take the time to do it right the first time, don’t come to regret it later.

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