In addition, a college campus collects students from all over the region, the country, and probably even from other countries. This is a sharp contrast to high school, where children from the same neighborhoods grew up in class together.
Handling New-Found Independence
The starkest contrast between high school and college life is the independence. In high school, students have parents to help guide and direct them. In college, student are left to their own. Mom and dad aren't there to wake you on time, keep on on-task with your work in online college classes, or make sure you get your reading done. Students must take control of their own schedules, budgeting time for study, completing assignments, and extracurricular activities. Prioritizing is paramount to a successful education.
Other responsibilities include managing money, perhaps for the first time in students' lives. Students will begin receiving credit card offers in droves. While “free money” might be tempting, it will only lead to problems during and after college. Not only will you be responsible for paying back your student loans, credit card bills will be due every month too.
Every student should learn to balance a check book properly, even if electronic banking often makes doing so unnecessary. This responsibility will be with you for the rest of your life. This is also an excellent opportunity to develop and stick to a budget.
Dealing with Losing Old Friends and Making New Ones
Set a time to connect with your family and friends back home. You can do this by coordinating schedules to select a time each week for a phone call back home. Keep in touch with old friends despite the college diaspora via e-mail or social media. Just do something to keep your important connections from vanishing. Students should accept the fact most high school friends will become a part of history rather than continuing to stay in touch, but college is a time for new friends and often forming deeper relationships.
Adjusting to an Unfamiliar Environment
Surround yourself with familiar sights. Take or have pictures of your hometown neighborhood, family, and friends sent to you. Place these photographs around your room, and share them with others enthusiastically. This will help you to develop a bond with others and form friendships, as well as help keep a little of your comfortable old environment around.
Getting involved with campus activities can be a cure for homesickness. In addition, take some time to explore you new surroundings. Walk not only the campus, but the town. Ask instructors and teaching assistants where the “invisible boundaries” are to stay safe. This will be especially helpful when family or friends come to visit.
Exercising Greater Personal Responsibility
Paramount to all students should be safety. Campus may seem totally safe, but it's still important to lock your doors in the evening. Stay away from dimly lit areas on campus at night. Be responsible about drinking. Having the freedom to cut loose does not mean putting your health or life in jeopardy.
Moreover, you will have a number of choices in college you didn't have in high school. The classes you take will be almost entirely up to you. Whatever course of study you choose, you and you alone are responsible to stay committed to your goal.
The bottom line is a college administrator will not hold your hand. You will be expected to sign up for the right classes, attend those classes, and complete assignments in a timely manner. Although this may not sound difficult, it will be a challenge for many students to manage their social and academic lives effectively when it's suddenly all up to them to stay on track. Take it one step at a time, though, and you'll grow into your new role of leading your own life gracefully and with strength.
Marina Salsbury contributed this article. She blogs for Online College Classes.