After you have submitted all of your applications, received your acceptance letters, and decided which school you're going to attend, the jitters may set in as you wonder what to expect when you set foot on campus. College is an exciting transition, but it can also be nerve-racking to consider how different college life will be.
Preparing for College
Getting stocked with the essentials is the first step to preparing for college, but you'll still probably have a few unanswered questions about what this whole college experience will be like and what you should do to prepare for it. Make a list of everything you will need including books, school supplies, backpack, etc. If you will be living in on campus or off campus housing, your list might include bedding, desk, microwave, mini fridge, clothes, etc. Check to see what the university provides before making your list, as some dorms will come equipped with a desk, microwave, mini fridge, furniture, and other items.
College is quite a bit different from high school so make sure that you are prepared for the changes that you will experience including increased workload, more flexible class schedule, social life, and other responsibilities that you will have while living away from home. If you are planning to commute to college or take online classes, going back to school will still be an adjustment as the courses will probably be more demanding than the ones you previously took and the requirements for students will be much more stringent.
Depending on the college you choose to attend, the class structures can take some getting used to since some classes may be small with few students and more access to your professors while other classes may be larger and therefore require more dedication on your part. Most classes will take attendance during class, although some do not so make sure to go to class and be on time. Typically smaller class sizes are more interactive while larger ones are focused primarily on the lecture.
Since you will be assigned certain classes on a specific schedule every week, you will have free time in between to study, socialize, and perform your other responsibilities. This is a significant change from high school, where you were probably required to be in attendance for approximately 8 hours everyday. Sticking with your course schedule requires dedication and discipline, but it is very beneficial to attend all your classes and avoid skipping so that you don't miss important course material. Sometimes professors will talk about specific subjects that will be on their exams or quizzes in class, and you will not be able to find those answers in the book.
The workload at college is tremendously different from high school in most cases. Most professors will assign required reading in large sections after every class period or will require that you complete other assigned homework outside of class. Managing your workload and learning key study habits will be one of the most important elements to your success in college. Many college students look at the required reading or homework assignments as optional since professors may not check that you have done them, but keeping up with your assignments is one of the only ways to stay up to date with the coursework and do well on your exams.
Relationships between Professors and Students
A unique relationship often develops between professors in students. For most students that attend college, they want to be there because they have a specific goal in mind that they want to achieve. This makes it possible for professors to develop a closer relationship with their students, and while they won't normally bother you about homework, they will be available to discuss any concepts or subjects that you may have difficulty understanding. Professors are typically available before, during, or after class as well as during their assigned office hours. You may also be able to reach your professor via email to answer urgent questions.
Living in a dorm can be one of the biggest adjustments to your transition into college. For many people, dorm living is preferable because it allows you close access to all of your classes as well as gives you the ability to socialize with your peers. However, students will be taking on a lot of responsibility that they may not have had at home – laundry, cooking, keeping their own schedule, etc. Many schools require that roommates be selected randomly while others will allow students to select their own roommate or to live alone. Some colleges require that students live in on campus housing for a certain number of years, while other colleges encourage students to choose on campus or off campus housing options as early as freshman year.
Once you have moved into the dorm, it is important to find a space that you can be alone to study and work on your course work especially if you live with a roommate. Roommates can sometimes be distracting while you are trying to study, so find a study space or frequent the library to complete your work.
Living with someone else, especially someone you have never met before, can be a huge adjustment. Schools often try to match people based on their compatibility, which helps people find well-matched roommates. Some people have a wonderful experience with their first roommate, while others don't even want to be in the same room with their former roommate. Try to find common ground and be respectful of your roommate so that you can have a positive experience. Even if you have a not so great experience with your first roommate, you only have to live with them for one year and then you can choose another roommate or move into a single.
One of the best things about college is that you will be able to meet great friends and develop close relationships with your peers. Socializing is one of the best ways to make the most of your college experience, and you will be surrounded by people that have similar goals and ambitions as you, and that can help you stay motivated. There are so many places to meet people in college. You may meet friends in class, in your dorm, at the dining hall, during sporting events, or at your club meetings. Take your time to develop these relationships because these will be the people that help you through college. You may even form lifelong bonds with your friends in college. This is also a great time to expand your personal network so that when you are ready to get a job, you can call on your classmates or professors to give you references or recommendations.
Striking a Balance
College is a wonderful time for most students so soak it all in and make the most out of it. Find a balance between classes, studying, and socializing so that you can have a fulfilling college experience and enjoy your newfound independence, freedom, and knowledge.
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