What I wish I knew before I started college.
The transition from High School to College is one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences of our lives. It means freedom, it means the opportunity to make our own decisions about how we live our lives, but it also means responsibility. We need to buy our own food, make sure we’re in class, take time to study regularly (even if it won’t be graded). There’s a lot of stress involved in growing up but there are several things you can do to prepare and cope.
Something I wish I had known when I began college earlier this year is that your tuition does not only pay for your classes. The school you attend (wherever it may be) provides all sorts of services to help you through the transition, services that are paid for by student tuition. When you get there, be sure to use them! There will be people you can go to for help with finances, deciding your major, tutoring, psychological health, and so much more. They are there for your benefit. As you prepare for college and work to decide where you want to attend, learn what services different colleges offer and utilize them once you get there.
On a similar note, get to know your professors. They want you to succeed, but they can’t help you if they don’t know you need help. In many universities, professors may have over a 100 students in some classes. It becomes easy to disappear in a class that size. Find a way to get to know your professor, participate in class, talk to them after class, anything you can do to help them be more aware of you. You may find a time when you need a letter of recommendation or some other sort of help from a professor and if they don’t know who you are, there’s only so much they can do to help you. They’re being paid to help you succeed in class, utilize their time.
Of course, classwork isn’t the only part of college life that can be stressful. Finding a friend group to do things with can be stressful too. Whether you stay close to home, go away with friends, or go away alone, friendships may shift. You may find your high school social circle is no longer as firm as you thought it was. Even if you do stay friends with people from high school, college is a time of meeting new people and making new connections. It may take a few months for you to get settled socially and, even then, some of your friends may be older than you and will leave school before you do. Keep going and be patient with yourself and others. You’ll find friends eventually, it may just take time.
Last, but not least, learn to manage your time wisely. Do your homework before you go out and play. I know, you’ve heard that a million times from guardians and teachers alike, but it really is a critical habit to get into. Not only is it a good idea for helping manage time, it’s also a wise decision psychologically. People tend to be more motivated early on in the day as opposed to later at night. You’ll be able to get your work done faster and more effectively if you do the hard things first, such as homework and attending classes, followed later by easy things such as watching a movie or going out with friends. You may not always have complete control of your day, between work (if you decide to have a job) and class schedule, but do your best with the time you have.
College is such an exciting time. It’s an opportunity to find yourself, discover independence, and learn incredible new things about things you’re passionate about. It can, however, be a stressful transition. Be aware that there are people there to help you. Utilize every opportunity you can. Meet new people and know that strong friendships will come in time, and manage your time so you may accomplish all you need to every day and succeed in what you set out to do. College is a time to be enjoyed. The time will fly by so take advantage of every single day and enjoy it while it lasts.