Whether you went to a small public high school in the middle of nowhere or one in the city; whether it was a private Catholic high school, or a charter, once you graduate, you’re in a whole new world. You may begin your career right out of school, but you may be one of the 69.8 percent of high school graduates to head immediately to college. It can be an overwhelming time, but there are ways to better prepare for that jump into your next chapter of life.
Set reasonable expectations and goals
Did you know that an exceptionally high percentage of students don’t graduate in four years? Some simply take longer, but others drop out completely. This can be due to a number of factors which may include family members in a health crisis, failure to secure enough funds, and also pressure on yourself to keep up with grades, friends, and extra curriculars. Starting in a new place is daunting enough, so be kind to yourself while you’re getting settled. Instead of taking the same number of extracurriculars and doubling your work schedule to help pay your rent or food bill, work a cut back, set amount of hours to see what you can handle with your class load. If you must have a job and do extras outside of school, go into it with an open mind. Let yourself see what you can and can’t achieve comfortably.
Speaking of achievements, be sure to temper your expectations on your grades. It’s okay to not always end a semester with straight As. The sooner you realize that your grades don’t indicate who you are as a person or that they don’t hold a bearing on your future career, the better you’ll be.
Setting smaller goals at the beginning of your college experience can give you a better barometer with which to set your expectations later. Instead of having one huge goal, missing it, and then wallowing in your hurt, set individualized goals that will add up to what you wanted to achieve in the first place. You’ll not only build confidence with each successful step, but you’ll learn so much more in the process.
The best way to transition into college is with a basic knowledge of the campus and the knowledge of what to expect in your classes and of yourself. Having the right supplies doesn’t hurt, either.
If at all possible, attend student orientations so that you may get answers on any question about the school that you have. This will help you to avoid being on one side of campus and realizing too late that your class starts in 10 minutes is definitely further away than that. A tour guide can also help to show you where mental health resources are. Finding someone to talk to during your first year can be invaluable.
Having the supplies necessary for each class can put you ahead of the curve in most situations, but remember to have ways to keep you organized outside of your iCalendar. Invest in a planner or be on the look-out for promotional calendars to keep track of your schedule and your due dates. Even better, create your own so that you have something completely tailored to you and your needs for the semester at hand.
It can be tempting to focus on the big-picture things needed for college, including that new laptop you’ve been eyeing, but don’t forget the basics as well. Always make sure to have a notebook and pens and pencils with you regardless of what class you’re attending, and complete the required reading ahead of time. With these ideals in mind, your first year of college will be no sweat.
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