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Dean Julie of Stanford University shares How to get the most of Freshman Year

If you’ve listened to one of our prior Education Doctor radio shows or been a client family of my firm, then you’ve heard me preach about the college graduation rate.  I’m passionate about our country’s need to improve the college graduate rate. College graduation overall in our country today is about 55%. Shocking, isn’t it for a global leader?

Another interesting data point is that 79.5% of our freshman are retained. In short, if students are going to drop-out from college, many of them do so after freshman year. And you know something else . . . it costs us nationally over $4.14 billion dollars to educate those students who drop-out after freshman year. Wow. . . I’m blown away by these numbers and they keep me going every day. . .

Our show last Thursday, July 14 focused on Freshman year and what both students and parents can do to get the most out of this important year of their college road to graduation.

My guest was Dean Julie Lythcott-Haims, who is the Dean of Freshman and Undergraduate Advising and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. I’ve known Dean Julie since she was an undergraduate Freshman at Stanford. Here’s a small world story for you . . . I was a Freshman Orientation Leader for her entering class and had memorized all the names of students in my cohort so that they would feel welcomed when they arrived. She was among my cohort of students for the class of 1989. Then when I returned to Stanford for my doctorate, I learned that Dean Julie would be the then-Dean of Freshman and Transfer Students. I had heard about her distinguished career after undergraduate and excited to see her return to the Farm. She’s an inspiration for many and shared some great advice and tips to share for students and parents on our show.


Here is the audio of Dean Julie Lythcott-Haims of Stanford University discussing what students and parents should know about Freshman year of college!


After our show, I saw a question posted on blogtalkradio by Benjamin Ezeokoli, who asked:

How should a [Stanford] freshman balance his or her time in specificity to taking courses and engaging in extracurricular activities?

Dean Julie responded:

Knowing that college presents both a different pace and different expectations than high school, I would encourage all incoming students to assume they will not be able to jump right in to the same number of extra-curriculars in college, at least not at the outset, or not to the same extent.  I think it makes good sense to spend the first term getting one’s academic bearings (i.e. what does xx number of units require of me outside of class?; what kind of success/accomplishments am I able to achieve
academically with xx units).  With that information in hand, the student can then think about adding extra-curriculars in a way that complements what they already know to be the time available in the space outside of academics.  I’m not saying don’t do extra-curriculars at the outset, in fact one or two small things might be a nice balance with academics.  I’m really speaking to the urge to get involved in five extra-curriculars, some of which are major, right away, which I think is not wise.

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This blog is valued by busy parents of college-bound teens. The topics covered in these posts are mined from years of listening to parents talk about their dreams for their children’s education.

This blog is written from the heart… as it’s my passion and life calling!

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