Laurie Kopp Weingarten
Certified Educational Planner
Co-founder & President, One-Stop College Counseling
The end of senior year can be exhilarating, and as summer begins, students become increasingly excited about embarking on their journey to college. But fears and self-doubt may creep in as you begin to worry about the unknown. Here are 10 tips we offer our students at One-Stop College Counseling to help ensure they make a smooth transition from high school to college. Follow these steps to get off to the best start possible and have a great experience!
- Read your emails every day. Colleges communicate through email and will send mass messages about everything from campus events to COVID-19 updates, which will help you feel connected.
- Join clubs right away. It’s the best way to meet new people, and getting involved increases happiness. Don’t skip the club fair in the fall!
- Make an effort to meet your professors at the beginning of the semester. That way if you have to contact them later because of an emergency or if you’re sick, they’ll already know you.
- Read the syllabi for each class. It’s important to understand course expectations from the start. And you might even discover a bonus—we’ve heard some students receive extra points on tests for finding hidden messages in the syllabus.
- Write down reminders for due dates. Your parents won’t be there to nudge you, and it’s up to you to get all your work done on time.
- Don’t hesitate to visit academic or mental health counseling if needed. There is no stigma in doing so, and these services are often included in your campus fees, so take advantage of every resource available to you.
- Venture out of your comfort zone. Whether it's taking an elective class that strikes your curiosity or performing at an open mic night, trying new things is how you’ll grow!
- Create an academic plan. Figure out what you might be interested in majoring in and start exploring. It’s fine to change your mind, but entering college with an initial goal can be helpful.
- Keep an open mind. You’ll be exposed to a lot of new people, beliefs, and ideas at college, and you need to be flexible.
- Call home. You don’t want your parents sending out a search party for you because you’re MIA. It happens more often that you’d imagine!
We also recommend that you:
- Don’t skip class.
- Don’t procrastinate.
- Don’t miss any deadlines.
- Don’t become addicted to social media watching your friends’ escapades at other colleges.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended—ever.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff!
College is a wonderful time in your life. Make smart choices and look forward to enjoying these next four years!
- Read everything your college sends you and be sure to complete tasks on time (e.g., submit housing forms, register for courses, etc.).
- Don’t let your family choose your courses or look over your shoulder when completing these forms.
- Spend time thinking about why you’re going to college and what you want to take away from the experience. It’s easy to get caught up in doing things because others around you are, even if it’s not what you want. Be open to new things, but have some ideas about what you are hoping to achieve in college.
- Don’t try to plan out every detail of all four years before you even start. Some of the best things will be the things that you can’t anticipate. Fully reflect on your experiences and move forward in a thoughtful way.
- Work hard in all of your classes during your last months of high school. The best predictor for struggling academically in college is coasting and letting grades slide at the end of senior year. The academic expectations are going to be far greater in college, and the worst thing you can do is get into bad study habits just before you start.
- Talk with your family about how often you want to communicate with them while you’re at college. Between calling and texting, it’s really easy to be in constant contact with people at home. But a big part of college is about managing your life on your own, and that requires establishing new norms.
- But don’t go six weeks without talking to your family either. It’s good to become a more independent and self-reliant person, but that doesn’t mean cutting ties. The right amount of communication differs for people given your circumstances.
Find more expert ways to make the most out of college in our Student Life section.