High school graduation is done, and, for many, the next step is college. But are you ready? After 40 years of teaching and sending three of my children off to a post-secondary institution, I have learned a few tips to help prepare young people for the transition.
Prepare mentally. My youngest was very nervous about not doing well academically in college. I told her she would realize during her first week that she would do fine. Luckily, her first few grades were very good, and that eased her fears. I discovered many students have the same fear, even if they did well in high school.
Understand the first few weeks will be bumpy.
- If you are leaving home, you probably will be homesick, but it will get better.
- Don’t buy your books until after the first class. Even though books might be listed on the syllabus, the teacher might not use them frequently, or there might be a less-expensive source. Also, Amazon rents textbooks.
- Classes in college move more quickly than in high school. Students need to be invested in doing well from the start. Get the phone number of at least one friend in each class. You might need to call him or her for homework or to give the teacher a message from you.
Ask a lot of questions. This means in class as well as general questions about topics such as financial aid or resources. If you don’t know how to do something, don’t get frustrated. Ask questions.
Be prepared to self-advocate. You are independent now, so you have to be responsible for yourself. Teachers might make a mistake on your grade. Respectfully ask about it. Stand up for yourself when necessary.
Find a social/academic balance. It is easy to get pulled into the social scene and see your grades drop, but you also don’t want to stay in your room all the time. Find a balance that works.
Make a financial plan. How are you going to get money for necessities, like snacks? Talk to your parents, and make a budget.
Stay safe. Use common sense when traveling after dark, and travel in a group. Let someone know where you are going.
Don’t overdo it during your first semester. College offers a chance to explore many interests, but don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much. Give yourself a chance to settle in.
College can be wonderful, but those first few weeks will be a transition. Give yourself time to acclimate, meet new people and explore new interests. Four years will fly by.
– Jennifer Bonn is a freelance writer in Kennesaw and a recently retired 40-year educator. Her book, “101 Tips to Lighten Your Burden,” was recently released and is available on Amazon.