Great Tips from the University of Maryland for Making the Transition from High School to College
(Photo by John Consoli, University of Maryland)
By Marcy Marinelli, Ph.D.
University Counseling Center/Learning Assistance Service
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The transition from high school to college is an exciting time. First year students experience new routines, new roles, new relationships and new ways of thinking about themselves. All life transitions - even positive ones - can be challenging! Knowing what to expect and accessing the resources at your new institution can help students make a successful transition to the university so that they have a strong first semester.
Here are some tips to help first year students make a successful transition to college life and learning:
* Take an active role in your education. In high school 80% of your academic life was controlled by your teacher. In college 80% of your academic life will be controlled by you!
* At the beginning of the semester, review each course syllabus and enter due dates for tests, papers, and assignments in your calendar. Review each course syllabus every week and prioritize the tasks that need to be done that week.
* Go to class! This seems obvious, but many students who run into problems do so because they dont go to class. They mistakenly think that all they need to do is read the textbook, or look at the PowerPoint slides posted on-line. By not attending class, they are missing cues to what the professor thinks is important. Moreover, studies show that there is a strong correlation between the grades one receives in a class and their attendance. So go to class!
* Sit as close to the front of the room in each class. You will be more focused and will have a better chance of the professor knowing who you are. There are also studies that show that the closer to the front of the room you sit, the higher your grades!
* Get to know your professors. All professors hold office hours each week. First year students often are afraid to visit professors, or think that they should go to office hours only when they have a problem. This is an important time to go, but you can also go just to meet the professor, learn more about his/her field, and start to develop relationships that can pay off later when you need help with a recommendation, scholarship, or job.
* Get to know other students in your classes. You can work together in a study group to discuss material presented in class and prepare for exams.
* Manage your time wisely. Commit to spending at least two hours studying for every hour you are in class. We define studying as anything that you do for that class, including reading the text, doing research and writing papers, doing homework, reviewing your notes, and studying for exams. For a three credit class, you should be spending about 6-8 hours per week for all your academic tasks in that class. For a full-time load (12-15 credits), plan to spend about 24-30 hours studying per week.
* Take advantage of the services on campus that are here to support your academic success. Don't be afraid to seek help if things are not going your way. It is easier to fix a problem early, rather than have it get worse by trying to solve it yourself. Seeking help is a sign of strength.
* Get involved in campus life. College is about becoming a well-rounded, civically engaged individual and developing a network of friends. Join a club; go to a cultural event; attend a play or concert; go to a sporting event; attend colloquia or lectures; visit Washington, DC or other big city near you; join a fraternity or sorority; and be sure to explore education abroad opportunities. All these activities can help you learn a lot about yourself and your interests and can even lead to a future career.
* Most importantly, have fun! College is a chance to branch out, learn more about the world and yourself, and prepare for your future. Take advantage of the myriad opportunities that college presents.