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Transitioning from High School to College

You’ve made it! You completed your goal of graduating from high school, acceptance to college and now you are facing one of the most exciting times in your life. Some of you will be moving away from home and that will present a whole new set of challenges in addition to the more rigorous academic expectation of college.

Whether you are moving away from home for college or attending a local university or community college, they both present their own challenges. Moving away will bring about homesickness and the longing for familiar surroundings and friends (yes it will happen to you). Homesickness usually only lasts a few weeks and then you will feel like school is your new home so stay with it! Staying home will also have its challenges. You may be expected to help around the house like you did in high school but with less time to do it. You will also be drawn to old friends who may not share your academics goals and they will draw you away from your studies. Staying home to attend college is harder in those areas than moving away so be prepared to make some changes in your social life that may not be easy.

Here are some tips for a successful transition to college:

Get organized. You will probably receive a syllabus for each class. Get a calendar and mark down important due dates for assignments and projects. Your new instructors will not bug you in advance of a due date to make sure you are working. They just expect it.

Get interested in you education. In high school your teachers controlled almost all of your academic life. In college, YOU control it so take charge. You are more independent now so act like it. Independence is what you dreamed about all through high school so here it is!

Go to your classes. This seems obvious, doesn’t it? Class attendance is one of the top indicators of success in college. Most people who fail in college simply start by not showing up to class. This goes back to taking responsibility for your life and independence.

Sit in front. You will be more focused on the instructor and less distracted by others around you. Studies show that the closer you sit to the front of the class, the higher your grade will be.

Get to know your instructors. Don’t wait until there is a problem. Most of them have office hours and will take the time to hear your thoughts on their class. If they get to know you they will be more willing to help should the need arise. Getting to know them is especially true of the instructors in your intended major. Get to know them and ask questions about your intended major.

Get to know other students. This can be great socially but even more important when forming study groups to help with that big test or final.

Manage your time. This is something that was probably done for you in high school. Your parents and teachers pretty much told you what to do and when to do it. Now in college, all of that is gone and you are responsible for your time. Get a calendar. Make yourself a schedule of when you are going to study and take responsibility for your education.

Take advantage of help. There are lots of services on every campus that are there to help you be successful. Seek these out. There are bulletin boards, counselors, advisers and instructors that will guide you toward these. There are writing labs to help you with papers and math labs to get you through that first math class. Find these resources. They won’t be hard to find but you need to open your eyes and look. Ask questions!

Get involved in campus social life! It is great. This will be easier if you are living on campus but even if you are not, get involved! This is one of the best times in your life. Enjoy it! There is also data that shows students who connect to the campus through clubs, activities or athletics are more likely to be successful.

© 2013 Roger D. Chamberlain

Roger Chamberlain
Roger Chamberlain works for a university helping low income and under represented high school students prepare for and be successful in college.
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