Starting college feels like you’re embarking on a journey to a brand-new life. Many students can’t wait for the opportunity to go because they finally get that sense of freedom and independence they’ve been yearning for since they could remember. Although it may sound fun leaving your old life, adjusting to your new one might not be so easy. That sense of comfort and familiarity is completely stripped away the moment you take your first step. Change can be difficult but it is necessary. In order to accomplish your goals and reach your full potential, you need to keep moving forward and that means moving on to a higher education. Life is all about making transitions. You’ve made so many so far; the transition from nursery to primary school, primary school to secondary, secondary to sixth form. And now it’s time for the next transition, university.
Moving on to university is a big change. It’s completely natural to be nervous, anxious, excited or scared. Many other students feel the exact same way. But in order to make your transition to your new life at college as smooth as possible, here are some tips to help make that happen.
A student’s first year in college is oftentimes their first time living away from home. It can be quite hard trying to adjust to a new environment when you don’t have your family or friends with you as often as they once were. But with the help of modern technology, distance no longer stands as an obstacle in keeping in touch. When you start university, try to call, text, email and video chat with them as much as you can, especially within your first few weeks on campus. Give them updates on how you are, what’s going on in your life and see how they’re doing too. Having that emotional support and maintaining that connection with them will make the college adjustment process much easier for you. There may be a few hiccups on some occasions such as time difference or a busy schedule, so make sure to arrange a time to talk to them, one that works for both you and your loved one, and doesn’t conflict with your schedules.
While maintaining those old connections, new ones are also very important. Making friends in a new school isn’t always easy. It can be very intimidating being surrounded by so many new people all at once. You’re struggling to make friends while thinking everyone else has already made theirs. I assure you that’s not true. Many other first year or transfer students are in the same boat. But try to take any opportunity you can to meet people and talk to them, say hello and become a conversation starter. Some of the best friendships have started out that way. Your roommate(s), dormmates, and classmates are the people you will see every day on campus so if you all can recognize each other as a huge source of support, that will strongly help not just your transition into college but theirs as well. Besides your dorm and classes, college also offers many other opportunities to get to know your peers such as student organizations, clubs, intramural sports, fraternities, sororities and more. Find the ones you like and join them. Many of the people taking part in these activities will share your goals and interests which will give you all something to talk about and in time, the people you once viewed as strangers will become your source of comfort. While getting to know your peers, another important thing you must remember to do is be patient. Making friends could take days, weeks or even months but try not to get frustrated if it takes longer than you’d prefer. It will eventually happen.
When the first semester begins, students may feel tempted to skip one or more of their classes. Their parents aren’t around and so there isn’t really anyone making them go anymore. But that shouldn’t give you reason to miss even one of your classes. It will only make things harder for you in the long-run. Your college professors won’t have the materials you missed ready for you when you return like your teachers did in sixth form. It’s entirely up to you to find out the information you missed and you will most likely have to rely on a classmate’s notes to catch up with the material. The number of class sessions you have throughout the year are also a lot fewer than at sixth form. The class sessions you have could be as few as 15 for one class. Missing any one of your sessions would mean missing a large amount of material. Aside from the material, college tuition isn’t cheap, if you were to miss a session, you’d also be wasting the money that was paid for you to attend the class. A good way to help you avoid the temptation to skip is by scheduling your classes later in the day. If you’re not an early morning person, it’s advised that you avoid lectures meeting during that time like an 8 am lecture for instance.
Courses in college also move at a much faster and rigorous pace than your courses in sixth form which calls for a number of strategies you must follow.
Firstly, you need to be fully engaged in the classroom. Attending class isn’t enough, you need to also pay attention while you’re there. If you’re feeling bored or possibly confused during one of your professor’s lectures, you might feel tempted to zone out but try as much as possible to not let that happen. When setting questions for tests and exams, college professors usually test you on the material you covered in class rather than what you read in your textbooks. This means that every piece of information in class is important and will determine how your grades will be. So make sure to stay on top of things and listen attentively throughout.
Then while listening to your professor, ensure you also take notes. If you’re not the best at taking notes, it’s important you work on it because you will need your notes when studying or doing your assignments.
Always make sure to start any long-term project you have the day it’s assigned. One of the worst things you could do in college is procrastinate. Leaving all your work to the last minute adds unnecessary stress and anxiety to you and it affects the outcome of your project. You will produce better results when your brain is relaxed and not under pressure.
Another important strategy is your study plan. Your college professors cover a lot of material in a short amount of time which means you need to carve out time from your schedule to go over your class notes as often as you can. Studying every day might not be possible due to a hectic schedule or important plans so try to use the weekends to your advantage. If you carve out time every Saturday or Sunday to go through what you’ve learned during the week and the weeks before then you will have no problem recalling the information you need when writing a test or exam. When students don’t regularly study, they find themselves struggling to cover all their material and end up forgetting most of their notes because they try cramming a heavy amount of information in a short period of time. That then increases their stress levels and in some cases leads to panic and anxiety attacks. So do ensure you form the habit of studying regularly to prevent this from happening to you. And also ensure you find a good place to study whether it’s in your room, library or anywhere else. College is full of great study spots so find the one that best suits you.
Another great feature colleges are full of are resources to help students succeed. It’s up to you to use them. Your professors hold office hours in case you have any questions. The writing centre is there to guide you through the paper writing process. Tutors are available to assist you with any work you’re having trouble with. Academic advisors and career counselors help you in exploring your academic and career interests and the library is full of online resources and journals to help you with any research you have for your school work.
Now, one thing many students are guilty of not taking as seriously as they should is how they treat their bodies. You can’t expect to get anything done if you’re not taking care of yourself. You must ensure you’re always eating properly, regularly exercising and getting an adequate amount of sleep. If you don’t follow these three needs, it will severely affect not just your academic performance but your mental and physical health as well such as insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many other severe medical conditions. College can make it difficult to take proper care of your body but try to do your best to ensure you do.
As for the most important tip, ask for help. Don’t ever be afraid to get help from your parents, professors, advisors, friends or anyone else on your campus. If you ever find yourself struggling with your academics, your health or any personal needs, do not hesitate to seek help. There are people in every corner to help you adjust to your new life as a college student. Even if you follow all the tips and strategies in the world, the transition will never get any easier if you hold on to all the challenges you’re facing. Asking for guidance will not only help you triumph over those challenges but it will also help you grow and excel as a student.
Once you follow all of these, you should have a successful transition into your university and hopefully have an amazing experience during your time there. To all the future college students reading, best of luck as you begin this new journey!