College is way different than high school! Parents are acutely aware of this fact, but not necessarily teenagers. Yes, they realize life will be different with living away from home, new friends, and more freedom. And it can be a great time in a young person’s life! It can also be a challenging time.
Over the last twelve years I have worked with many college/university students that run the gamut of soaring academically and socially and on the other end struggling with homework and friends. The students who have difficulties share one common factor, they didn’t understand or prepare for the major pitfalls in this new chapter of life.
College life has three major aspects: academics, social life, and preparing for professional life. To be successful students need to understand how each of these facets will be different than what they have experienced in the past.
If you have a child heading off for academic pursuits, here are a few key transition points worth discussing and investigating before leaving the nest.
• College and university professors are very different than K-12 teachers. Teaching is only one part of their job while researching and writing in a particular area of study is another. Because of this fact, it’s important for students to communicate with professors, developing a relationship early on to learn class expectations.
• There is very little “homework” in college! Students need to develop a plan to regularly study and learn on their own. Understanding the syllabus, planning assignments and study times, knowing exactly how the class is graded, and how they earn points are essentials.
• Balance social life and school! Being too social or not social enough can cause problems.
• Develop a study schedule and how social activities will fit in each week.
• Find activities of interest in before arriving on campus. Research contact numbers and websites for clubs, intramural sports, church groups, or organizations that sound interesting. With this information, students will be more likely to make connections with people who have similar interests immediately.
• The last reason to go to college is to get a job. A student should explore the many options of classes to determine what he really enjoys doing.
• Find research positions, during the regular school year or during summer breaks, in the field of study. This is a great way to discover new career options and it looks great on a resume.
• Keep a file with numbers and contact information for people they meet throughout their college career. This information is essential in getting coveted internships and first jobs.
Empower your teen for the next chapter of life with the knowledge of how to navigate academics, social life, and professional pursuits, then your child can have the power to positively affect the college experience and get the most out of the next 4+ years.
By Megan Stone, founder and president of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.. She has been working with students and faculty members across the country for over fifteen years. Megan is the author of The Ownership Series (for post secondary students) and Own Your Education: A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (and Life). Contact Megan at Stone Foundation of Learning, Inc.