Although transitioning from high school to college will be like smooth sailing for some, for others the transition can be nerve-wracking thrusting one into something similar to culture shock. So it is better to be prepared than to go off to college thinking it is a similar experience as high school. Even though the transition can be difficult, it can also be a life-learning experience. Whether your transition is difficult or easy there are a few things you should know as a new college student.
In college you are on your own for maybe the first time. You are thrust into a totally unknown world of nightlife, breaking dorm rules, dating, drugs and alcohol, endless parties, and students from many different cultures. Many different cultures here means that you can come from a country high school and go to a college where many of the students are from big cities. These are different cultures. You can meet classmates whose families are totally different from your own even though you may have a similar background nationality. You may meet people whose lifestyles are totally different than your own and it might even be your roommate. Of course this can happen in elementary and secondary school, but at least you don’t have to live with them.
All of a sudden, you are thrust from the safety and security of your parent’s home to a new life of
* handling your own finances
You will have to purchase your own snacks, go to the grocery, buy your own clothes, and you might even be responsible for a credit card.
* academic differences
In college you will find that you will get less tests to prove your grade – usually only three tests per semester. Professors expect classroom participation and total quiet in the classroom. It is not the same as high school where you can sometimes act up or even cheat. You can’t do that in college.
* getting used to a professor rather than a teacher
This might take some time. Professors are way above their students in education and expertise with years of professional education and experience. They sometimes have irritating idiosyncrasies such as riding to school on a motorcycle or bicycle, standing on their head while waiting for buses (some professors don’t drive), coming to class inebriated, or wearing clothes that are totally unstylish. Professors are knowledgeable about their subject but are not trained teachers with teaching certificates like public school teachers. They really don’t expect to teach you like you were a baby. They expect to convey information and they expect you to get it. If you don’t you just don’t get a good grade despite their professorial quirks that you think they shouldn’t have because they are so educated.
* taking notes
Taking notes is essential in college. Most professors teach from their own notes and from their own books. You might be assigned books but they may teach very little from the book. You will be expected to learn the material the professor lectures about whether it is in the book or not. If you don’t take good notes you won’t pass your tests and you will fail. You usually will not get short quizzes that count toward your grade in college like you did in high school.
* reading all materials presented by professors
Although the professor may not have taught anything from the books you bought for the course you are expected to know what is in the books also. You never know what will be in the three tests you get for the semester. So in addition to your notes you will need to read your assigned reading material.
* studying more than in high school
In most cases you will have to study a lot more than you did in high school. In high school you can sometimes get away without studying at all. But if you don’t study at all in college you will probably get a failing grade.
* purchasing textbooks
In high school you never had to purchase a book, but college books must be bought. College books are expernsive. If you have six classes, the price of the books could easily be $600 or more. You might also have a few workbooks that you will also have to purchase.
The hardest transition from high school to college is probably having roommates. It is important to get along well with your roommates, so you should try your best to be congenial and respectful of your roommate. Respect their privacy and respect their belongings.
2) Finding Alone Time
With so much going on in college it might be hard to find time to just be alone and think your own thoughts. You might never be alone in your own room like back home. So you need to sometimes have time to yourself. Try going for a quiet walk by yourself, or find a quiet spot in the library that you can go to anytime you need private time.
Although you need alone time you also need to socialize with your peers. If you are the type who likes being alone rather than being with people, try to mix it up a little by spending time with your roommate, friends, and classmates. Go out on the town with them and go to parties, but just don’t overdo it.
Most students transitioning from high school to college are unsure about what to wear as first-time college students. The college dress style might be a bit different than high school and you won’t know the college styles till you get there. In different parts of the country (the US), college styles may be different. In different parts of the world they may also be different.
The best way to transition yourself into college wear is to come to school dressed in your normal casual attire. Don’t overdress or underdress. After a few days on campus you will notice the dress styles. It is best to conform a bit when it comes to clothes. Once established as a matriculating student, you may be able to dress according to your own unique tastes and not worry about blending in.
5) Handling Your Finances – Credit Cards
Due to inexperience with dealing with credit cards it is not a good idea to have a credit card while in college. Credit card companies today are targeting college students and their parents by offering students credit cards. By the time many students graduate they are already in credit card debt. Try holding off on the credit cards. It does sound inviting when you get that first credit card offer, but the credit card can have many hidden fees that will trap you into a lifetime of debt before you even have a chance to understand what they are all about.
The best way to manage your finances is to start a bank account with money your parents may offer or the money you get from your student financial aid package, which can include scholarships, grants, and loans. Then get a debit card. Debit cards are much better since there are no fees and you can only spend the amount of money you have in the bank. If you do go over the amount you have in the bank you may also get fees from the bank, so be careful. If you go over by one cent, you can be charged up to $35 in fees, which will put you in the red, and have you owing the bank money.
6) Financial Aid
Your financial aid package is your most important part of staying in college. You need money to pay for your tuition, room and board, and books. You will also need clothing and supplies. So you should make sure that your funds are coming in for every quarter or semester. If things don’t look right or sound right call or visit your financial aid office whenever necessary.
You must also keep up your grades to get your financial aid package. You must also be in school full-time or part-time to get any financial aid.
7) Friends and Relatives
Keeping in contact with relatives and friends back home including an intimate relationship is important so stay in touch. Go back for visits on holidays or whenever you feel like it if you are close enough to home.
Certain colleges are called “suitcase colleges” because students go home every weekend. Other colleges, students stay on campus longer. If your college is close to home, you may stay at home and commute to college every day. Community colleges are usually the commuting colleges. State colleges are either commuting or suitcase colleges. The Ivy League schools and other large universities are the ones where students stay on campus more.
With this in mind, you can decide ahead of time how you want to spend college life. Do you want to spend a lot of time on campus or would you prefer being at home with your old-time friends and family and maybe that special person?
8) Campus Activities
There is so much going on in college – football games, soccer games, many other athletic activities, clubs to join, and fraternities and sororities. It is a good idea to have a few extra-curricular activities just as you did in high school. Extra-curricular activities can help build a future resume – employers always look at the community activity of the prospective employee.
9) School and Work
You may have to balance school and work in order to meet your college needs and also your work schedule. You will have to do this on your own but it is important to maintain balance in this respect. You need time to attend classes, study, and work. This may cut down on your recreational activity, but you can’t do everything. Just make sure to add a little recreation so that you can get some relaxation from all your work in both school and the job.
8) The Professor’s Syllabus
Know your professor’s syllabus. The professor will usually conform to the syllabus. Anything required is just that – required. If it is required, you must complete the material in order to receive a grade or a non-failing grade.
9) Respect Your Professor
Professors usually like students who stay after class and chat with the professor about the subject or ask pertinent questions related to the subject. The professor will take more notice of you and think you are interested in his subject.
Professors are very in to the subjects they teach especially if they are teaching from their own book. They do want recognition. Giving your professor the recognition he feels he has earned will give you more recognition as a student.
Your biggest academic priority in college is to study. This should come before everything else. You will have to study more and harder to get a good grade in college. You may have to read the whole book for each class and know everything in it in order to pass the tests. But if you take good notes and go through the main points in the book, you can do okay.
Studying in a group is the best way to study for a big test and get through the book quickly. You bounce off main points from each other and ask and answer challenging questions.
With all these tips in mind, you should have a better idea of how to make your transition from high school to college. If you are a little worried about all the differences you could transition more gradually by attending a community college first. You will usually spend two years at the community college and then transfer to another college.