One size doesn’t fit all, but most new-to-college students that I see need to develop better time management skills.
First, they need to take responsibility for getting things done. There is always a group of students who think that excuses release them from the requirement to turn in work on time. (The one I most commonly hear is “I had to . . .” – the blank being filled by do something else, usually something vague but important sounding.)
Second, new students need to adjust to the fact that schoolwork can and should be done any time they’re awake and not occupied with something important, like eating, exercising, or being at a job or athletic practice. They need to develop the habit of doing the reading or working on assignments whenever they have 15 minutes or half an hour free.
Related to attitude adjustments regarding time, new students need to recognize where “time sucks” exist in their lives. Specifically, they need to develop the habit of putting their cell phone on mute or hiding it out of sight or giving it to their roommate, so they can avoid wasting what could otherwise be productive time. And one of the first things a new student should do is visit the study spaces in the library or elsewhere, so they’re comfortable going there when roommates or hall activity prove to be a distraction.
Many students need to develop new habits around paying attention to professors. Admittedly, some professors blather on and on, still thinking that long lectures are an effective way to teach, but I’m thinking more specifically of when the professor says, “For next class I want you to . . .” or “For this assignment . . .” Over the last few years I’ve noticed that a number of students don’t follow oral instructions very well. New-to-college students have to give up the habit of expecting the teacher to write everything on the board or put it online.
A smaller group of students, but still a significant one, are those who don’t re-read assignments that professors actually do provide in writing. Students need to develop the attitude that there’s something they missed when they first read the assignment sheet.
Lastly, new students need to develop the exercise habit. Getting your body moving, even for relatively short periods, is good for your brain and for your mental health. (Yeah, they should also eat healthily and give up junk food, but I think I’ve listed enough attitude adjustments and habit changes already.)