On time. Skipped Tuesday, but we’re moving forward without it.
Lessons about college I wish I could tell high school students.
1. Responsibility. Just because you don’t have to go to class doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to class. The reason it is no longer mandatory is because you’re expected to have the motivation to go to class on your own. You may have gotten in trouble for unexcused absences in high school, but in college, many professors will dock your grade if you don’t show up. Even if you just sit in class and study on your own, go. You don’t have much better to do at 11:00 on a Wednesday morning anyway. On the same note, you’re going to class at 8:00 am right now- you can handle it in college too.
2. Make professors remember you. They aren’t bound to strict grade cutoffs like your high school teachers. That 88% will be a B+ to a faceless set of scores in their book, but the same 88% from a student who cares enough to get extra help and participate in class may get an A-.
3. Alcohol. There are two extremes: the raging six-nights-a-week, too hungover to go to class kids, and the kids who believe that abstaining from alcohol makes them superior to their peers. Be neither of these. If you choose not to drink, you can do so casually and have plenty of fun. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly and, again, casually.
4. You’ll either know someone who couldn’t handle moving away to college and left after the first semester/year… or it’ll be you. College is an ideal segue between childhood and adulthood. If you live in the dorms, your bathrooms are cleaned for you and your food is made every day. However, you will also have the freedom to go where you want, do what you want, and spend most of your time on your own schedule. Take this time to develop effective working, study, and socializing skills before you have to do all that and make dinner at the end of the day.
5. When it comes to campus activities, consider everything. Most of the people at your school don’t know you, so you can do what you truly want to do, not what people used to expect you to do. Consider clubs, student government, volunteer opportunities, professional fraternities, and social Greek organizations equally. Ignore any preconceived notions about how each group behaves and ignore any urge to do something just because it sounds like something people from high school think you’ll like.
6. Watch your grades. If you’re the kind of student who did AP classes and who is moving away to college, you’re probably clever already. In high school, you probably only studied a little to push your grades from B’s to A’s, if anything at all. This is not the case in college. Tests take preparation, articles and books must actually be read, time management is vital. I watched students who graduated from high school with a 4.2 finish their first semester of college with a 2.4 gpa. Transitioning will be tough, but your college transcripts will be following you around for quite some time, so every class counts.
7. Don’t forget about your future. College isn’t the endgame–it is simply a step along the path toward whatever life you choose to pursue.
8. College is the only time when you’ll spend the overwhelming majority of your day surrounded solely by your peers. Embrace that. However, if you think your life peaks in college, I feel so sorry for you and your upcoming five to six decades.
9. Interpersonal relationships. Seize the fact that every freshman is alone and lost on the first few days and make some friends. They may not be who you end up staying close with beyond those few weeks, but they’ll be good for you. Let yourself make friends, lose friends, and date, but it’s also healthy to learn how to be on your own.
10. In the year preceding college, college itself, and in your first few years after graduation, you will be making life changing decisions more frequently than you ever have or ever will again. From where you go and what you study to who you meet, how you spend your free time, and where you begin to work, you’ll constantly be making decisions that will carve out the path you may be taking for the rest of your life. Decide wisely. No pressure.