High schools students either dread or get excited about college. Some skip it altogether, content with where their life is headed. Those who dread college often think that schoolwork will interfere with their social lives and hobbies. Students who look forward to it, on the other hand, can’t wait to face the excitingopportunitiescollege offers.
These kinds of expectations can create misconceptions. Yes, college is full of schoolwork, but they’re not aimed at draining you. It’s also true that college presents many amazing opportunities, but some universities may offer them better than others. Also, you don’t need to stretch yourself thin to succeed in university. So even if opportunities present themselves here and there, note you’re not meant to seize every single one of them. You have to choose your battles in college, too.
So before entering college, prepare yourself by learning and unlearning the following:
Learn: Differentiating between your wants and needs
When you choose a university, one of the considerations you need to make is your wants and needs. These are different for every individual, but usually, wants revolve around culture, leisure, and social opportunities. If you love shopping, for example, you’d likely want a university near a shopping district. Similarly, if you want to go clubbing every weekend, you’d look for a university close to bars and nightclubs. Those qualities may seem like the makings of the perfect university, but they may not truly meet your needs.
As with anything in life, your needs should be prioritized more than your wants. College is your stepping stone to adulthood, so you must already know how to fulfill your genuine needs by this time. Consider the course you want to take. That may be a “want,” but it would help fulfill your needs soon, which is a career. So think more about your future than your short-term enjoyment while choosing a university.
Unlearn: Misconceptions about college
Contrary to popular belief, partying won’t make your college life “right” or complete. If you love partying, you’ll indeed find many open college parties, but if you don’t like them, you don’t have to worry. College students are mature enough to stop casting out people who aren’t into parties.
If you think college schoolwork will drain you out and set you up for failure, that’s not true either. It’s a lot harder than the work in high school, but you can access resources to make your academics more manageable. If your professors seem unforgiving, don’t antagonize them. They want all students to succeed, so they go hard on you if they have to. You’ll thank them one day.
And if you think skipping classes won’t affect your grades, you’re mistaken. Attending classes isn’t optional in college. Tardiness may be tolerable, but a no-attendance will lead to poor grades, if not an outright failure.
Learn: Better studying habits and time management skills
Some colleges expect students to have done advanced reading before the start of the school year. So if you got away with cramming in high school, that might not be the case in college anymore. Read your textbooks over the summer; you don’t have to memorize the contents anyway. Just familiarize yourself with the lessons you’ll learn. It would help you feel less intimidated during your classes.
Reading in advance can also improve your time management skills. When preparing for classes becomes second nature, you won’t cram ever again unless you choose to.
Unlearn: Biases toward big-name universities
If your GPA didn’t qualify you for an Ivy League university, don’t beat yourself up about it. A prestigious school isn’t necessarily an Ivy League or an internationally recognized one. There are also state universities that produce successful graduates.
Read in-depth student reviews about colleges as you select a university. The best way to assess a school is to learn what the students themselves have experienced. Find out how their alumni are doing and what employers think of the university. If that university is linked to highemployabilityand high-paying jobs, then it’s a great one.
Learn: Focus on your goal
Your goals are the reason you should prioritize your needs over your wants. With your academic needssatisfied, you can reach your goals with a clearer path. You won’t be sidelined because of unimportant things like parties or fame.
But a goal doesn’t strictly have to be academic-related. It can be extra-curricular, like leading a student organization or being a varsity. Go after what makes you feel accomplished and happy.
College may be full of ups and downs, but the journey is one you’d never forget. You can loosen up, be yourself, and get out of your comfort zone without feeling judged. It’s a lot better than high school, which focuses on popularity and self-image.