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From High School to College - The Transition

Freshman Year: High School is now behind you, it’s time to move forward!

High school was a breeze, you aced exams, graduated at the top percentile of your class, and you were a natural. You feel in touch and aware of your academic abilities and successes. But you may want to embrace humility when entering college. According to ACT (American College Testing), one in every four university students drops out before finishing their sophomore year and almost half of all freshmen will either leave college before obtaining a degree or they’ll finish their education at a different school.

The transition from high school to college is not a cake walk, regardless of your experiences in high school. College is a different animal. You are often away from your parents, free to make your own decisions, decisions often based on new peer pressure. You may feel isolated; you made a major move to a new location, all life changes that can lead to depression, anxiety, and other psychological changes you may have not been aware of or prepared for. You may feel an initial sense of freedom; a desire to explore, but taking advantage of orientations rather than navigating on your own can make a profound impact on your college survival rate. Learning your way around the campus from a pro will help you feel more at ease and prepared with a greater sense of direction (literally). You may even wind up at new classes on time and know where to go for academic guidance, research, health services, dining, and recreation in no time.

Socialize with your roommate and fellow dorm residents. Networking will be important during your freshman year and beyond. Social support is linked to a greater sense of overall life satisfaction and can translate into a positive educational experience; having peers around that are going thorough the same issues as you can provide you with the right support at the right time.

Being organized is critical! Plan your day, every day! Use whatever method you’re most comfortable with; your BlackBerry, PDA, laptop, Gmail calendar, etc. Knowing where you’re going and when you need to be there will take you far in college and beyond. According to Woody Allen, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Go to class, this is a skill you’ll want to instill early on; you’ll realize the importance of this when you land your first job.

Embrace the library, find a favorite spot to call your own and sit and do what it takes to get it done. Discipline will take you far, in silence you’ll be in the right frame of mind to focus on your work, one project at a time … and you’ll have a familiar place to do so. Forming study groups with peers from your classes can also be very helpful.

Get to know your academic advisor. He/she will become your guru of sorts. You will seek your advisor out for assistance in all areas of your college experience. Hopefully, your advisor will do what it takes to help you have smooth and positive college experiences, if you don’t click with your advisor seek out a new one.

Remember, college will be very different than high school. It may be more painful in certain areas but this doesn’t been you have to suffer, accept the changes, be determined, seek help when needed, take advantage of your newfound educational opportunities each day. Have fun and seek balance. College life is set up to guide you in the right direction. There’s an old Buddhist saying, “You’re standing in the right direction, all you have to do is walk.” This philosophy can take you far during your freshman year and beyond. Lastly remember you are now an adult, act accordingly.
Click here to continue the discussion in our forums. Be sure to check out our Teen Resource Guide as well!
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