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College Adaptation Period: What Makes It Difficult And How To Cope With It?

Statistics on dropout rate in US colleges shows that surviving the freshman year is a kind of challenge for newcomers. In 2021, 30% of the total dropout rate were college freshmen. Each year, more and more high school students either decide not to go to college at all or prefer getting a job. And it all happens for one simple reason – the lack of understanding of what students in college. We simply don’t know how to make the transition period between high school and college smooth. And that’s a big problem.

If you think that it has something to do with academics, you’re deeply mistaken. Students know how to overcome academic difficulties: they can find a company to pay for paper writing and get their papers done. It’s not the problem they are afraid of. We don’t want to underestimate the importance of this factor for prospective college students, but it’s not the decisive one.

You seem to be eager about entering college, right? The majority of people like changes and new stages of their development. College perfectly falls under these criteria. The expectations of students concerning college life are formed long before they get to it. College seems like a breath of fresh air, the opportunity to get freedom, build new connections, and start a new life. However, saying that 100% of high school graduates share this opinion is a mistake.

Some graduates achieve a lot in school and don’t want this period to end since all the benefits and achievements won’t be transferred to the college. For example, you can be a straight-A student, a class president, and a top school athlete, but when you enter college, you need to start fresh.

It is scary, but the reality is different from what we can expect. Today we’ll show you that the transition between high school and college isn’t as stressful as we think. It’s in your power to make this process smooth. Everything you need is to know some coping strategies and get a few insights into college life.

Differences Between High School And College

It’s a big mistake to think that the only difference in students’ lives in these two institutions is the complexity of academics: college is more difficult, and school is less. Such an opinion shows your short-sightedness and narrow-mindedness. Or are you just a high school student who knows nothing about college and wants to get some knowledge here? We are writing this post for you.

The first step to understanding what lies under the complexity of college adaptation is defining the major aspects that make these two institutions different. Let’s start.

  1. Independence. It’s shown in many ways. College students mainly live on campus or rent an apartment, and faculty members don’t keep an eye on their academic performance and don’t offer help to each member of the class. Moreover, entering college is voluntary; no one forces a student to do it. School students, on the contrary, live with their parents and abide by them. School teachers are interested in helping students and even take the initiative. Finally, studying in school is obligatory.
  2. Time-management. In high school, people don’t face so many assignments and extracurriculars to care about time management. It’s possible to say that your schedule and time are ruled by others when you’re in school. Everything changes as soon as you enter college, and time management becomes vital. You must decide when to do homework, do your job, spend time with friends, and so on. It can be challenging to define how much time to allocate for each activity, but you’ll get used to it soon.
  3. Academics. The complexity of assignments is one of the most obvious differences between high school and college. You go up to a different level and are required to show interest in the subject you’re studying. The number of disciplines in college can be lower than in high school, but the depth and breadth of study are much higher. Not all information is discussed in a college class, but you still need to do homework and submit it on time. Students are responsible for their academic achievements, not the professors. In high school, everything is different.
  4. Responsibility. We don’t want to make you think that studying at high school isn’t essential and that you may treat it irresponsibly. This approach is a failed one. But when you enter college and start living independently, no one will correct you, your path, or your behavior. Instead, you take actions and then take responsibility for them. These actions relate to academics and your personal life and impact your relationship with others and your future.
  5. People. It would be a mistake to ignore your environment in school and college. High school members are mainly of the same age, region, and background. You have nothing diverse to face in high school. The same cannot be said of college. It’s a place where enormously different people gather: they come from other countries and have varying backgrounds, views, beliefs, and opinions. It’s amazing! College members can share their personal experiences, making classroom discussions more exciting and engaging.

We’ve discussed the significant aspects of a student’s life, and we hope that now all high school graduates who read this understand what expects of them. Everything is much better than it seemed to you, right? The college has more benefits than drawbacks, so it’s worth it. Of course, the full list of differing aspects is much longer. We haven’t mentioned the obvious and minor ones like paid textbooks, class size, the absence of mandatory attendance, etc.

Reasons Making Transition Hard To Survive

The previous section perfectly describes what changes in the life of ordinary students after they get accepted to college. But it’s a mistake to think that all discussed points make the transition stressful. Let’s focus on a few main reasons and study them deeper.

  1. Loneliness. Studying in elementary, middle, and then high school for a long time makes us get used to one way of life. We make friends and think that we’ll stay close forever. But then the necessity to start a new, mature life makes us change our opinion. When a person earns a seat in a dream college, it usually implies moving away from home. As a result, 90% of freshmen suffer from homesickness and loneliness. Parents and close friends are away. This feeling can even lead to depression if you cannot find a proper coping strategy.
  2. High academic standards. This is why all high school students are worried about the transition. The fear of not being smart and intelligent enough to meet the higher standards causes anxiety. We get used to one set of teachers and one way they present information. And suddenly, everything changes. You meet a lot of new professors, the rising complexity of the given information, and the lack of time to adapt to the new environment. All these aspects merge and influence the feelings of an applicant.
  3. How many can high school students find the right information on what awaits them in college? It’s possible only if they have older friends and can learn everything firsthand. Forums and blogs don’t always properly reflect reality. As a result, young people are afraid of this transition because they don’t know what will happen next. The human brain likes new information, new environments, and so on, but it’s stressful. Feeling excited but frightened at the same time is stressful.

To conclude, a school-to-college transition, or actually, its stressfulness, is caused by emotions. We let our imagination go and start winding ourselves up. On the one hand, it’s not wrong to understand that reality turns out to be better than you expected, but feeling stressed for a long time is harmful to our mental health. It’s not worth it.

What Adjustments Will You Need To Make?

Even the calmest and most self-confident person should make some changes when starting a first college semester. We are glad to realize that some of our readers are already prepared for it but don’t hope to continue living as you did. It’s impossible. After a detailed discussion of the transition issue, it’s better to proceed with practical recommendations. We’ll start by defining the changes the majority of college freshmen make. Be attentive when reading, and maybe some pieces of advice will be useful for you.

Find a place to study

In high school, you could let yourself go back home after classes and do homework. Parents hardly interrupted you, right? You’ll hardly have such an opportunity in college. Facing responsible and understanding neighbors in a college dorm is a great joy. Most likely, other dorm members will prevent you from immersing yourself in homework, so you need to define a comfortable place to do it. Unless you don’t want to get a knowledge gap and fail your first exam session. Do it in the college library!

Organize yourself

When you get the independence you’ve dreamed about for a long time and face the absence of restrictions, it’s easy to relax and lose control of everything. You’ll need to understand the importance of organization and find 2-3 approaches to developing it. Get used to waking up late, attending classes every day, doing homework, and asking for help when needed.

Get along with your family

No matter how good your relationship with your parents is, your departure will change them. It’s easy to have conflicts, but they do nothing good for you and them. These people will remain in your inner circle, but you all must understand that communication will differ a little. Talking to them to prevent quarrels is one of the main things you can do to adapt faster.

Reach out to people

You’ll hardly be lucky to meet your old friends in college, so you’ll need to make new ones. Saying that you aren’t good at communication and staying alone isn’t the best approach to end your transition period faster. You’ll need to visit various campus activities and communicate with your groupmates and dorm neighbors. The more connections you make in the first year, the better for you. People are a valuable source – use them!

Learn to care about yourself

No one will remind you to visit a doctor, and no one will cook healthy food for you. Since the decision to enter college is yours, be able to take responsibility for it. A healthy body equals a healthy brain. If your brain gets enough nutrition, it can learn new information, memorize it well and make sound decisions. Get good habits, such as visiting the gym and cooking food. Treat yourself well.

How To Prepare For College In High School?

If you have a few years till the end of high school, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about your plans. Find some information about the colleges and programs they offer to understand your interest. Maybe your views will change in a year or two, but you’ll anyway be prepared. High school students may try to immerse themselves in stressful environments to get used to them. We mean taking new classes, trying new extracurricular activities, or even jobs.

Don’t spend the summer without any benefits. Visit campuses, prepare for exams, and learn languages or disciplines that will be helpful in the future. College is closer than you think.