5 Keys to Successful Transition to College Life

High school graduation is a memorable milestone in every student’s life. Now that your senior year is history, it’s time to look ahead to the next chapter. As you go off to college this fall you will be entering a time of newly found freedom and yet huge responsibility. Mom and dad won’t be there to nag you about grades, but you’ll be losing the comfort of knowing that they are just down the hall in case you need their help. You also won’t have them standing by to help you get your act together when you’re falling down on the job.

You may view the changes that are about to take place in your life as mostly awesome, but before you get too excited, you’d probably better plant both feet back on the ground. It’s time to give some serious consideration to how you will handle the transitions that are ahead.

To help you do that, here are just five recommendations that will head you down the right road toward college success.

1. Prioritize

Within just a few days of arriving on campus, you will be bombarded with offers to join everything from study groups to sororities and fraternities. Opportunities to make new friends will quickly lead to a social life like you’ve never experienced. With no one to ask permission of, the temptations to sample a little of everything will be huge- but don’t.

One of the first things that you will want to do is to ask yourself why you have entered college. If the answer is to pursue studies in a career field that you have already identified, good for you! But if you, like many of your new friends, don’t have a clue what you want to do with the rest of your life, you’ll need to set some priorities. You’ll have to make the decision to focus on the classes that you have already registered for, and determine to make studying your priority.

The first two years of college are all about taking general classes anyway, so even if your future career plans are uncertain, you won’t go wrong by making your education your first focus. There will still be time for socializing and even joining a club or two. The most important thing is that you don’t blow off your academics. Somebody’s paying for you to go to school, whether it’s your parents or a scholarship. Chances are you have also entered the world of student loans. Paying back that money will seem much less painful if you get a good education first.

2. Use Your Alarm

Sounds basic, doesn’t it? The first few weeks of college are the ones that students tend to mess up the most. If you don’t get snagged in the temptation to stay up too late and sleep through your alarm, you’ll be ahead of the game. Some of your new acquaintances will party hardy and then be conspicuously absent from morning classes. Staying out late during the school week will make it too easy to hit your alarm and roll over in bed. Remember last year when mom or dad hollered up the stairs to see if you had gotten up in the morning? Well, now you are on your own. So when the alarm buzzes, do the responsible thing and get up and get going.

3. Learn to study

Many students who are top of their classes in high school have never really learned how to study. The large amounts of material that are thrown at them during each college classes and the short amount of time they have to learn it, is a big surprise to a lot of first-year students. If you’ve never really had to study, you will now.

Establish good schoolwork habits right away and make it a point to complete reading assignments on time. Scrutinize your notes several times between classes so that you start learning right away. Commit important terms and specific information to memory as you go. Learning how to study will keep you from having to cram too much material, too late, and ending up behind and overwhelmed.

4. Avoid Toxic Relationships

College is a time of leaving behind many high school friendships that may have lasted all four years. It’s also a time for making new friends; more mature friends, at least that should be the plan. Look for friends that have a balanced perspective on studying and yet enjoying college life. Avoid those new buddies that encourage you to just have fun and don’t seem to have any academic goals. If you let yourself get sucked into a social life that is toxic, you’ll wake up one day and wish you could do it all over again, but by then it may be too late.

5. Find A Stress Outlet

Once you’ve gotten your first semester off to a good start, you can step back and look at the bigger picture. Find a physical activity that you can enjoy and that will help you manage your stress. Swim, play golf, rollerblade, or even join a rowing club. If you are getting regular physical exercise, you’ll be more inclined to eat better, sleep better, and feel more like taking advantage of the positive experiences of college life.

Well, that’s it! Pretty soon you’ll be on your own, on the college campus of your choice. Oh, mom and dad will still be checking up on you, but you’ll have plenty of wiggle room to do your own thing. If you’re smart, you’ll start off your college experience on the right foot. It’s all up to you, though. Welcome to the world of adulthood! Here’s hoping you have an awesome freshman year and that, whatever you make of it, your experiences will mostly be those that you do want to write home about.


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