Higher Education

How to Support First-Year Students' Transition to Higher Education

Starting university can be an exciting and emotional time. Students are doing a lot more than developing their foundation for educational success. They are setting themselves up for life. In the first year, students may find themselves miles from home for the first time. They are in a new geographical location, surrounded by people they don’t know, and the stakes are high. Students want to succeed, and the faculty wants them to as well. On average, 24% of first-year students drop out within the first 12 months.

Leaders in higher education institutions understand that when a student drops out, it has a big impact on the revenue goals. It costs money to recruit each student. When they drop out, the school loses the initial investment as well as future tuition. During a recession, schools should focus on retaining more students by easing students into their first year at school. They can do this by providing quality support.

Colleges and universities can help students navigate through challenges during their first year in a number of ways. Here are some key approaches that help support first-year students.

Student Success Departments

New students need to start somewhere. Colleges and universities have all the information and tools in one place to make it easy for first-year students. For new students, the student success department is the place to be.

Some questions may seem easy if you have been around the institution for a while. New students are starting from scratch. They need to know things like, how to prepare for class, how to interact with instructors, and how to prioritize. They need tools for motivation, note-taking, and more.

Schools should aim to have a stocked student success department.  Support services should include a dedicated focus on freshman strategies. This helps new students get off to a great start. These days schools continue to adapt to advancing technology. It’s a great thing as it enhances the delivery of academic support services. Schools use online platforms like QuadC. QuadC offers one platform that enables institutions to connect services to the students who need them. This is a value-added, effortless approach that improves student recruitment and retention.

Mentoring and Tutoring

Students don’t need to figure it all out on their own. There is help for that. New students need access to mentors and tutors. This is a great way to support first-year students in their transition to higher education. Students can receive one-on-one or small group support in order to improve their academic skills and confidence. Improved academic skills and confidence help to keep a student engaged and enrolled.

Generally, students will access a mentor or tutor through student support services. It’s common for busy students to access help from online tutors as well as in-person support.

Tutoring can be a valuable resource for first-year students. As they adjust to the rigours of college coursework, the extra support goes a long way. By taking advantage of tutoring services, students can set themselves up for success in their academic pursuits. Schools using our software seamlessly connect students with the learning support services they need.​


A key way to support first-year students in their transition to higher education is through events. By hosting events specifically for first-year students, you can help them feel more comfortable and welcome on campus. Make sure to promote these events ahead of time so that students know they exist and can plan to attend.

Another way to support new students through events is by offering academic workshops. These can be helpful for students who are struggling to adjust to college-level coursework. Hosting a few workshops throughout the year can give students the extra support they need to succeed.

Finally, a student’s well-being plays a key role in their success. Social events are a great way to help students meet new people and make friends, which can make the transition to college much easier. Make sure to include a variety of social events so that everyone can find something they enjoy.


In addition to general events, freshman students will benefit from workshops designed just for them. Workshops can take place online and in person.

One type of workshop that is particularly beneficial to first-year students is an orientation workshop. This type of workshop can introduce students to the expectations and culture of the college experience. It is an excellent way to help students feel more comfortable and confident as they begin their academic journey.

Another type of workshop that can be helpful for first-year students is an academic skills workshop. Workshops can focus on topics such as time management, study skills, and effective ways to communicate with professors. By attending, students gain the skills and knowledge they need to be successful.

Finally, a series of well-being workshops can help students find balance in their social and academic lives. These workshops can cover topics such as stress management, healthy relationships, and self-care. Students can learn how to take care of themselves both physically and mentally, which will set them up for success in all areas of their lives.

Normalize Asking For Help

Starting college can be a big change. It’s normal for students to feel overwhelmed at times. It’s important for students to know that there is help available if they need it. Many students who could use the help do not ask for it. Colleges and universities can encourage help-seeking behaviour by making sure it’s easy to access and normalizing it.

Provide students with a list of campus organizations that cater to first-year students. Provide information about student support services and advice on how to find balance in their academic and social lives. The well-being of a student plays a substantial influence on their academic performance.

It’s important to encourage first-year students to reach out for help if they are struggling with the transition to college. During a recession, students will face added pressures. The risk for first-year dropout is high. Encourage students who are struggling with academics, mental health, or other personal issues to reach out. 

Successful students who feel connected stick around. QuadC makes it easier for students to access student services that enable retention. We’d love to hear from you about your school. Click here to talk to us.

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