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Tips for the College Transition: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Making the jump from high school to college can be exciting, but also overwhelming for some students. With college life comes more independence, but also significantly more responsibilities than students may be used to at home. It’s easy to have a smooth college transition, however, if students keep these simple tips in mind.

Get and Stay Organized
Your lifestyle once you move on campus will change significantly. Rather than a solid block of classes from 8am – 3pm everyday, your schedule will vary day-by-day and will be spread out over multiple locations on campus, rather than just one building like most high schools. It’s important to get and stay organized as soon as you arrive on campus so that you’re able to effectively manage your schedule and responsibilities. Take time to see where all your classes are and map out some routes so you know where you’re going. Use a planner or your phone calendar to keep track of classes, professor office hours, lab hours, and more, as well as assignments and deadlines. Getting organized on day one is key as it helps you settle into a routine that is easier to keep up as you go along, rather than trying to play catch up half way through the semester.

Manage Your Time Effectively
You’re living on your own now, and while dorm life might be fun, you don’t have mom and dad checking up on you every morning to make sure you’re awake and out the door on time for school. Hopefully during high school you were able to instill some good time management habits, but, if not, now is the time to practice. Set alarms to ensure you’re awake early enough to get ready for class and arrive on time. Stay on top of your assignments using the organization strategy highlighted above, and build upon that by scheduling study times for upcoming exams or set aside a block of time each week to work on a long-term project. Don’t let procrastination creep into your daily life. Since most college classes don’t meet every day, and professors can be much more hands-off than high school teachers, you won’t have someone checking in on your progress regularly. Manage your time effectively so that you’re not overwhelmed with work or studying the night before a big exam or assignment deadline.

Learn Conflict Resolution Strategies
With college life comes many more opportunities to meet and work with new people, which can be exciting but also uncharted territory. Especially when it comes to dorm living, sharing a room or common space with someone new can be a challenge. Learn some simple conflict resolution strategies to employ should you have a disagreement with a roommate, professor, group project member, or anyone else you’ll encounter on campus. Practice active listening when addressing an issue with your roommate and try to see his or her point of view. Communicate effectively with your group project members and establish clear roles and responsibilities so that everyone understands what’s expected of them. If you run into conflict, instead of getting angry, take some time to cool off and approach the conflict with a more calm and reasonable attitude. Learning how to diffuse uncomfortable situations and talk through issues with others you encounter during your time in college will make for a more positive experience and will serve you well after graduation and in the workforce.

Create and Stick to a Budget
For many students, this will be their first time they’re living on their own and completely managing their own finances. Before you leave for college, sit down and make a budget that covers everything outside tuition and room and board like food, supplies, entertainment, gas, and more. Set clear budget restrictions and make sure you know how you plan to cover these extra expenses. Will your family provide an allowance? Will it be weekly, monthly, or a lump sum at the beginning of the semester? Will you need to find a job on or off campus? Will you use savings to cover some of your costs? The college transition is difficult enough without adding financial anxiety, so set clear expectations before heading off to campus so you know what to expect from day one.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Adjusting to a completely new city and/or lifestyle can be challenging, especially if you’re finding it hard to resolve any issues on your own. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Many college campuses have a number of resources for students, especially first-year students. Do some research to see what student services your schools offers, including academic help, mental health and counseling services, or just guidance on how to get more involved on campus if you feel like you’re not getting the most out of your experience.

At IvyWise, we work with students at various stages of their educational journey, including once they’re in college. We can work with students to improve their grades through tutoring, choosing the right courses in order to prepare for graduate programs, medical school, MBA admissions, and more. We also work with students looking to transfer to a different four-year institution, guiding them through the transfer admissions process including course selection, list building, application essay editing, and more. Contact us today for more information on IvyWise’s transfer and graduate admissions services.