The feeling of having finally made your decision on the perfect college can be an exhilarating one. You no longer have to worry about the social standards, or busy workload, required of you in high school; and can now focus on skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed in the real world. Considering you’ll be involved with this college for the next four or more years of your life, the college transition can be one of the most important times in your life. It could very well determine how you view college, and how you’ll handle living on your own in the future.
I have compiled a list of 5 differences I have discovered between the high school experience and the college one; and I’ve added some general advice on how to survive each change as you make the transition over to the college lifestyle. This article has mostly been comprised of advice I’ve received from those close to me and general research I’ve done; as I am currently undergoing the transition myself. It has helped me to picture the college experience in a new light, and I hope that it helps those of you in need of advice to find a more beneficial way to picture the college transition before your move-in day.
1. Newfound freedom & reliance on time management skills
One of the first things you’ll most likely notice the moment you leave your family and friends is probably going to be the sudden feeling of loneliness. Now whether you’re new to being-alone or are familiar with all that’s involved; how you handle the newfound freedom may impact your view on the college experience.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re going to have much more free time on your hands while in college than you ever did in high school. You don’t have to worry about trying to be at the top of your class, or having the highest GPA. Once you enter college, your focus shifts to gaining the knowledge you’re going to need to succeed in life. Also, you have the ability to make your own choices about what classes you wish to take, since you are no longer bound by a set state curriculum. Now whether you choose to utilize your free time between classes wisely, or spend it socializing, is completely up to you.
Keeping up with your grades, and any discrepancies in your grades, is a must. If you’re unclear about any grades you receive, you have the right to go ask. Coming from someone who spent her entire high school experience fearing talks with any authority figures, including teachers who I saw everyday; learning how to email and properly talk with your college professors could very well be one of the most important skills you could ever utilize in college.
2. College helps prepare you for the lifestyle you’ll experience in the real world
Being on your own, you’re also going to have to go through the process of adjusting your current lifestyle to the needs of your new college based life. You’re not going to have the luxury of a teacher guiding you every step of the way. You have to find and fix issues on your own. Meaning, you decide what you do with your life from here on out. You parents aren’t with you anymore to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. You can’t expect for someone to take care of you out in the real world; and if college does anything, it will prepare you for that harsh reality by introducing you via the college lifestyle.
Another important thing many freshman neglect in their first year would be their health. I don’t care how important something may seem, your health needs to come first. Remember that you are human; and need to eat, drink, and sleep in order to function. By not taking care of yourself, you can end up getting sick, which can further prevent you from being as effective as possible. If you’re used to someone being there to comfort when you’re not feeling good, being sick while in college will probably be difficult for you. You have to learn how to handle being sick on your own, and providing enough sustenance and rest for your body to function properly.
3. Dorms are nothing like your parents’ house
Although this topic coincides with the topics discussed previously, housing can be a real hassle, as I have come to find out recently. Primarily, pick your dorm preferences and roommates early on. Knowing where and with whom you’ll being rooming with can save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run. If you truly want to enjoy dorming during of your time on campus, do your research beforehand, and write down the deadlines. I would also recommend finding out what dorms you find favorable, and take notes on them, for when you begin the search for a roommate.
When searching for a roommate, contact your future college and ask what they recommend regarding the best way to find a roommate at your particular college. Most will probably recommend a roommate search site, such as RoomSync.com or Roomsurf.com, which basically turn the roommate search process into that of a dating site, and pair you up with someone who shares similar interests. You can also join your college’s facebook or social media page for freshmen. Many universities are creating pages like this, specifically for freshmen, in order to introduce them to some of their fellow classmates.
4. Embrace the school spirit or go home
This isn’t going to be your average high school sports game that you could skip and no one would care. In college, if you miss an important game of the season, you’ll be out of the loop for the rest of the year. If you’re not sporting your schools colors and showing your school spirit, you can forget about enjoying your college experience. The school spirit itself makes up a large portion of the collegiate experience. So start stocking up on you school specific wardrobe now!
5. Take the workload head on and take the time to study
You can’t skate by memorizing everything any more. In order to survive your college classes, you’ll need to study effectively to pass each class. You can’t just slack off like you did in high school, unless you went to college to waste thousands of dollars on nothing. By putting in the effort in each of your classes, you can expect to get out of college what you had put into it, monetarily. The general rule is to spend 2 hours outside of class studying for every 1 hour you’re in class. Although this may seem like a lot for those of you who manage to skate by with memorizing a couple details 5 minutes before a test; that won’t work anymore.
You made the choice to enroll in your college or university for a reason. Once you step foot on the campus, there’s no turning back. You are officially on your own. You must remember, that with that newfound freedom, also comes a new set of responsibilities. Although I probably sound like a nagging mother, I wish you the best of luck as incoming freshmen at whatever university you have decided on attending. I hope you keep this advice in the back of your head, and utilize it to make the most of your own freshman transition.