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The Truth About the College Transition

It’s finally happening: you are a bona fide college student. Believe it or not, most people will consider you an adult now, which can be scary because with this “adult” label comes responsibility. Your responsibility. We feel that the best way to prepare for this major life transition is to be realistic about your preparation and how this change will impact you. We have pulled together some tips to help you keep it all in perspective and keep a positive attitude as you establish yourself within your college community.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…a roommate:

Newsflash – your college roommate may not be your best friend and that is ok. This universal truth that all adults who graduated from college already know is not readily accepted by college freshman. Everyone, no matter how cynical, believes deep in their heart that the college roommate will be a match made in heaven. The reality is that you can and should hope for a roommate who is someone you can peacefully and productively coexist with for a year. As it turns out, having a courteous, respectful, and somewhat professional relationship with your roommate may actually be the ideal living situation.

The bottom line is this: Whether you love or hate your roommate, having one at all will be a valuable (if at times painful and challenging) life experience. Learning to live with somebody who is basically a complete stranger inevitably teaches you so much about yourself. You learn your limits and the boundaries of your patience, sure, but also self-awareness and the ability to compromise. At the very least, you get a few interesting stories out of it.

Social Responsibility:

College is social. High school was too, but in college your fellow students can be a surprisingly important and influential part of your life. They will help you in study groups or with tutoring. They will be your support system when your family and hometown are hundreds or thousands of miles away. They will even enter the workforce with you as your peers and professional network for years to come. You need to put yourself out there and be social to reap the benefits of surrounding yourself with supportive students, professors, and other staff. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to faculty, staff, or fellow students, especially at the beginning of your college experience.

It is important to keep in mind that this isn’t like high school, where relationships are made by the mere fact you are in the same homeroom with the same people every day for four years or you played soccer together since you were 7 years old. In college, you may meet someone new every day for four years!

It will be overwhelming at times. You will meet people from new places, new backgrounds, new ethnic groups, and new religions. You will meet people who challenge you—and not always in a good way—and people you will wish you had met years earlier. Remember, each new person is a new opportunity. You just don’t realize it yet. But you will.

Time Management:

In high school, your learning schedule was highly structured, and teachers were in charge of making sure you stayed on task. Your high school teachers reminded you of upcoming tests, conduct review sessions to prepared you for the tests, and prompted you to turn in homework assignments. In college, you will not have this type of hands-on support. College professors will give you syllabi at the beginning of each semester, and you will be in charge of making sure you stay on task.

A good rule of thumb: for every hour in the classroom, you should plan on three hours of studying outside classroom. This is not like high school where you might be able to study the night before and pass a test or exam. Class flexibility figures into your time management too. Your class time isn’t structured like high school; the bell doesn’t ring when you have to change classes, and your class times will vary greatly depending on the day and between semesters. These fluid class schedules are great in a lot of ways, but they also make effective time management skills even more important. A good tip to structure your day is to treat your day like an 8 to 10-hour workday. You will attend class and then devote the balance of those 8 to 10 hours to studying in an optimal place, like the library

It Affects You:

It’s easy to think emotional issues only affect other people.  But studies show that emotional issues — from stress and anxiety to depression and eating disorders — are the main reason college students struggle.  Recent research also found that 50 percent of college students have been so stressed that they couldn’t get their school work done during the past year.  If you or a friend are having a hard time, it can be hard to tell if it’s just the ups and downs of campus life, or if it’s a bigger issue.  Either way, if your thoughts or feelings are interfering with your ability to do well in school or connect with friends, it is time to reach out for professional help.  

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