What to expect at college

Last week, the University of Hawaii Maui College welcomed over 350 new students to the campus for a special orientation session, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to share a few best practices that can help any college student get their academic year off to a great start.


Choose carefully

With so many classes available, it’s important to know which ones you need to take for your program major. That’s not to say there isn’t room to explore different interests through electives, but make sure you know they’ll count toward your degree. Every program has a list of course requirements and electives, usually in the general catalog. If you’re still not sure what you should take (or even what you should major in), make an appointment to meet with an academic counselor. They can help guide you.

If you’re attending a University of Hawaii institution, you can also view different program pathways through the online STAR system, which shows how your classes connect to any degree program. If you’re thinking about changing majors, you can see which additional classes you’ll need to take. Remember – if you stay on track you’ll save time, money, and graduate sooner.


Ask for help

Asking for help in college is the smart thing to do. Sometimes new students hesitate before asking for help, but the truth is you can’t learn if you’re not challenged – it’s a natural part of growth. And college will challenge you.

The key is to ask as soon as you start having trouble. You can approach faculty, take advantage of free tutoring, talk to a librarian or make an appointment with an academic counselor. They’re glad when a student reaches out, because that’s why they got into academia in the first place – to help students. UH-MC also has The Learning Center, which provides students with tutoring, study skills workshops, and even online self-paced courses for those who need help at home.


Make a plan

Once you get your class syllabus, it’s a good idea to make a master schedule that includes assignments, tests, work and/or family obligations. There are free online calendars that you can even set with prompts and reminders or use a print planner to set your schedule. At UH-MC, free print planners are offered to all students at the start of the semester through Student Life.

Tests can be stressful, no doubt about it. If you’re working and attending school, you might want to see if you can work fewer hours leading up to major tests and project deadlines or get some extra family support during crunch times.


Check college email

We find that students check their college email account frequently at the beginning of the semester, but afterward . . . not so much.

Remember that these email accounts are the school’s primary and quickest way to reach students, often with important information about scholarship deadlines, add/drop dates, payment processes and also fun things like free student events.

If it feels like you have too many accounts to check, you can always forward your college email account to your primary account. Instructions are usually easy to find online, or you can ask your college’s IT help desk for assistance.


Get involved

The experience of college extends beyond the classroom, and getting involved in a campus club is a great way to have fun and make new friends. Fellow classmates are an important source of support, and you may even make connections that will help you find employment after graduation.

To learn more about UH-Maui College’s campus clubs and student services, visit maui.hawaii.edu/services-for-students. And if you’re a UH-MC student, check your email and make sure you get your free planner.

* Lui K. Hokoana is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka’ana Mana’o, which means “sharing thoughts,” is scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.