Back to School: The Transition from High School to College.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Background Book Image Source

It's about that time of year again where "Back to School" sales are raging and summer is quickly coming to an end. As a result I've decided to start a "Back to School" series. To read the first post about Back to School Fashion, click here!

I just completed my first week of my sophomore year of college and I must say it was incredibly tough. It's difficult to go back to school after being on break for about 4 months! But it's probably even tougher for all of you incoming freshman because college is completely new to you and totally different from high school.

I remember my first day of dad had to drop me off because my mom had to borrow my car and he insisted on walking me to my first class. I kept saying no but he actually got out of the car and walked me into the was SO embarrassing. D: After some convincing that I could find my classroom on my own, he finally left and I was all alone. I didn't know anyone in my classes, I didn't know where any of my classes were, and I honestly didn't know what to expect.

So I wanted to put this post together to help make the transition for incoming freshman a little easier. Although information can't help the same way real-life experience can, I think it can at least give you an idea of what to expect.

**WARNING: This post is SUPER long and there aren't any pictures. ;p It's mostly for informational purposes, so I hope it helps! Also, these are just my opinions and my point of view. I totally get it if you don't agree.***

My experience was probably a lot different from most people's just because of the Indian culture, which is really strict. I got my license at 16 but I didn't get my car until I was 18. I didn't even get a cell phone until a week before classes started. You could say I'm "sheltered," so my college experience was something else.

I was excited for classes to start because I just wanted to get out of the house but I was also nervous, obviously. The week before I remember double, sometimes even triple, checking if I had all my school supplies and comparing my schedule to a campus map to figure out where all the buildings were and if I could make it to class within the 15 minute gaps. Yeah, I'm super weird like that.

So my first day of school was quite embarrassing, like I mentioned above but I'll let you in on some more embarrassing things. Let's see...I used Google Maps to get to my classes because I was THAT paranoid, I parked on the roof of the parking garage because I didn't want to look for spaces (that's 6 flights of stairs), I was afraid of jay-walking (LOL!), my dad also accompanied me to buy textbooks (.....), etc. etc. You get the point.

Let's see..what else...

I do commute to campus (takes me 20-30 minutes) and like I mentioned before, my mom had to borrow my car for the first week of school so I had to depend on my dad to drop me off and pick me up, not fun! I don't mind commuting but the only thing that I don't like is that it's harder to be involved in campus activities when you don't live on campus. I joined the Marketing Club and the Career Planning Office (CPO) Student Advisory Board my freshman year, but other than that I didn't really have any "social life" on campus. I basically went to class, went to a meeting if there was one, and then came home, not very exciting.

Entering my sophomore year of college this year and reflecting on my freshman year, there's a lot of stuff that I wish I had known. Here are a few of the things I wish I'd known (if I posted everything this post would be never ending).

1) Growing up is mandatory.  

- In high school everything was explained to you; you knew what the expectations were and how to meet them. But in college everything is just dumped in front of you and you have to figure out what to do on your own. Sure you have advisors, but in the end it's your responsibility to keep track of everything: waking up on time, going to class, doing your homework, etc. The list is never ending. What I struggled with the most was making a schedule that worked for me. I live at home so it kind of felt like I was still in high school my freshman year, but that changed after the first week. I quickly found out how different college is and how independent you have to be. Don't get me wrong, there are PLENTY of people willing to help you but it's also difficult sometimes to ask for their help. You're really forced to grow up, and grow up fast. If you live on your own or in the dorms you have to figure out how to save money, clean up after yourself, live with another human being in close quarters, and most importantly, how to budget your time, which leads to my next point.

2) Time is precious.

- Oh my gosh, I wish someone just sat me down and explained this to me. It sounds pretty obvious that you would have to learn how to manage your time but when you're entering your first year of college, that's the least of your worries! I think why it was so hard for me was because of this new concept of choosing when you wanted your classes to be. My first semester all my classes started at 1:30 p.m. This was probably my first mistake because even though I was able to sleep in, I got home later and didn't have as much time for homework. I would stay up until 1 or 2 a.m. trying to finish my homework. It probably would've been smarter for me to wake up at a normal time, do some homework, go to school, come back and then finish it up. But that's the thing about college: you figure things out with trial and error. Now I have my classes all starting at 10:30 a.m. and the latest class ending at 4:15 p.m. so I have plenty of time to do my homework and anything else I feel like doing. You just have to find what works for you. My second mistake was waiting until the last minute to do homework or study. Yeah...that may fly in high school but it's extremely difficult to do in college because it all just starts to pile up and once you get behind it's difficult to catch up.

3) Money doesn't grow on trees. 

- Here's another one that sounds obvious but I had honestly never handled money in high school. I didn't know how to write a check, deposit money, transfer money, use a card...yeah I was quite sheltered. Although I've been very fortunate to receive financial aid, money still gets tight now and again. Saving money is a difficult concept for me to grasp because right when I get money I just naturally want to spend it. Plus with commuting, gas gets expensive! Just make sure you open up a savings account, if you don't have one already, and take out a few dollars from your paycheck and deposit it in your savings account. This way you'll have money to spend and you'll be saving money at the same time. This is probably one of many tricks for saving money. I'm pretty sure if you Google 'how to save money' you'll find plenty of great info! (:

4) Network. Network. Network.

- As a business major this word was tossed around SO much in my classes that I almost started to forget what it meant. If you don't know, networking is basically making connections with other people who may be able to help you in you the future. (If you prefer the dictionary definition you can click here) Going into college I had never heard of networking, again sheltered, but even the concept kind of scared me because I'm a very shy, quiet person who likes to keep to themselves most of the time. I mean if you approach me I'll talk to you and keep up a conversation, but it's difficult for me to be the one to initiate conversation. I don't even know how to describe myself to people. I wish someone had forced me to break out of my shell and learn more about myself. I mean if I can't even tell people who I am, how do I expect them to share their information with me? Networking isn't just for business majors, it's for everyone. So learn how to network and what networking is and get an early start. I'm still learning myself.

So, I asked a few of my friends who are incoming freshman what questions they had and I picked a few that I thought were general questions most people would have. If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments below!

1) Is college hard? Can you get by?

- depends (the college being hard part). I don't think it's one of those things you want to just "get by" in. College is the time in your life where you really get to explore your options and figure out what you like/dislike and where your real interests lie. If you're in college, or thinking about going to college, with the notion that you'll be able to "get by," what's the point of you attending college? College, in my opinion, should be like a big life lesson: sometimes it'll be hard, sometimes it'll be great, but you'll learn from those experiences; learn about yourself and the world around you. Whoa, that sounds kind of deep. o_o

2) Do you have to go to your classes?

- This is totally up to you, but if you think about it, why would you want to NOT go to a class that you're PAYING for? If you don't go to class you'll end up wasting your money and may even be taken out through administrative withdrawal. Yeah...that won't look good to potential employers. So my answer: go to class!

3) How do you pick a major when there are SO many choices?

- I honestly had the same question when I started college. I think you have two choices: 1) Go in undecided and take a bunch of different classes to figure out what interests you or 2) Pick a major that looks interesting to you. I ended up going with the second option because going into college undecided just scared the crap out of me (something about the unknown...). I originally wanted to major in journalism but once I thought about it, I didn't really see myself landing a secure job, so I went with marketing because I get to be creative and I'll have some job security. So I guess if you want to pick a major but you're not really sure which one to pick, think about what you're looking for in a future job and try to match it with one of the majors that interest you. Are you looking for a high salary? Job security? Flexibility? And another thing to keep in mind: you can always change your major, so don't worry too much about it.

4) How do you make friends?

- Haha, I'm probably the wrong person to ask this question to because I also have a difficult time making friends, but I guess I can answer it through a quiet person's point of view. I just want to start off by saying that it can be intimidating trying to make new friends in college because there are just SO many people, but you can start off by just talking to the person you're sitting next to in class. Say hi on the first day, introduce yourself and now you have someone to talk to in that class. The first day of classes are always a bit awkward because not a lot of people know each other so if you think about it, everyone's in the same boat as you: they're just looking for some friends too! There's also the obvious, general answers: join a club, sorority/fraternity, get involved on campus, etc. etc. But if you think about it, those are great ways to meet new people. Yes, I know it's a lot of effort, but hey, it's also a great experience and you get to meet new people at the same time. I'd say win, win! (:

5) What are some ways to  find out what schedule would work for you and make you productive?

- Just experiment. Trial and error is probably the best way to figure out what works for you. You probably already have an idea of how you manage your time and study, so you could start off by looking at your past experiences and seeing what worked for you and what hasn't. Then, try some new methods. There are probably a billion tips out there on time management and studying. So I'd say pick something, try it and see if it works for you. I know this answer seems very generic and not very helpful, but I honestly think that's the best way to find what works best for you. Like I mentioned previously, I took all 1:30 p.m. classes my first semester and I found that that time frame didn't work for me, so I switched to 10:30 a.m. classes, and found that they worked A LOT better. And guess what? All my classes this semester start at 10:30 a.m.. Trial and error my friends. Now I know this may scare some of you, but I'm just speaking from my own experiences, and I've found this to be the best method. (:

Here are some other tips for your freshman year of college!

1) Read the syllabus. - In high school I don't even know if we had a syllabus for class, but in college they're super important because each class is different. Make sure you go over the syllabus before your classes start and see what the professor expects from you. Sometimes professors have different grading scales or different attendance policies. They also usually tell you how they grade homework and what the quizzes/exams are like.

2)  Don't skip class. - I know it can be tempting but just think of it this way: every day you don't go to class you're wasting money that could've gone toward food or clothes.

3) Join clubs, get involved. - Yes, I went there. I honestly wish I had joined more clubs my freshman year. Not only is a great way to make new friends and network, but it's also just a great experience and could possibly be enjoyable! (;

4) Don't be afraid to ask for help. - There are plenty of people on campus who are willing to help you with whatever you need help with, whether it be a personal matter or school-related. Check out your school's website, I'm sure you'll find some helpful links! Also don't be afraid to talk to your professors. If you aren't understanding something in class, go to the teacher's assistant (TA) or meet with the professor during their office hours (usually listed on their syllabus).

5) Have FUN! - Yes, you should focus on your education but don't forget to have fun. Having a social life is just as important as studying, you just have to learn to keep them in balance. (-:


And there it is...the GINORMOUS post about the transition from high school to college. Sorry I posted it a week late, but I hope it's still helpful! It was difficult to try and pick out the most important bits of information because you could probably write a book about the transition! ;p Anyways, I hope this post was helpful for you, and if you made it this're awesome! Let me know if you have any questions/comments in the comments below! Good luck!

You Might Also Like