How to prepare for college

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The transition from high school to college is a hard one. Building strong academic and mental habits can help ease students into the change. (Photo courtesy of public domain.)

It is never too early to start preparing for college. College is approaching for a handful of Leesville students. Many students are unsure of how to prepare for college. Keeping up with schoolwork is a no-brainer, even if the college has already accepted them. On top of keeping grades up, taking time to practice and modify habits will be a big help in college preparation. 

For those already accepted into colleges, it is still important to prepare in the meantime. Building skills and knowledge is critical to make the shift as easy as possible. Developing good habits in high school will result in good habits in college.

Procrastination

Procrastination is one of the biggest struggles for both high school and college students. It is a challenging but vital habit to tackle to ensure success. 

Mr. Hopf, Leesville English Teacher, struggled with procrastination throughout college. 

“A bad habit from high school that hurt me in college was procrastination. It bit me in the butt,” he said. 

Procrastination can affect students disproportionately both short term and long term. Students frequently struggle with time management, which plays a part in procrastination. 

“I always underestimated the time I had to complete assignments. Even if I knew I wanted to work on something, the next thing I knew, the deadline approached, and I didn’t have the time,” said Hopf. 

In college, there are no longer parents to nag students about missing assignments and deadlines. College assignments pile up quickly, and students struggle to stay on track. 

“You have more freedom in college, but that means you need to have good time management,” he said. 

Hopf faced difficulties with time management during his first year. He recommends utilizing the syllabus students receive at the beginning of the year and working ahead. 

“You get a syllabus outlining all the assignments. Start working and building on them to get ahead,” he said. 

Another advantageous option is keeping a schedule. 

“Having a planner is seriously necessary. Having a planner, both virtual and physical, is something I highly recommend doing,”  he said. 

In college, students are juggling multiple classes at a time. Keeping a schedule handy will prevent due dates from slipping past students. Maintaining a calendar that tracks assignments will attenuate stress. 

Correspondingly, setting aside daily or weekly time to study is necessary. Compared to high school exams, college exams are denser, so it is futile to cram the night before. Creating a study schedule and utilizing it will offer shorter time intervals over an extended period to study. It is more effective to split exam reviews over several days before the test than to try and cram everything in the night before. 

Time management is a crucial habit to work on before college. Creating daily schedules, analyzing availability, and modifying study habits will be helpful. 

Advocacy

For college success, communication is indispensable. Communicating with college professors, whether in class, after hours, or through email, can boost a student’s chances of success in college. 

“Communicate with your professor. Let them know that you will be absent, late on an assignment, or if you need help. That is going to be huge,” said Hopf. 

Communication with professors can manifest numerous benefits, such as academic insight, references, relationships, and opportunities. 

“If you do not communicate with your professor, they will not be as willing to help you out,” he said. 

Professors are often well-connected within their field. They are usually aware of available jobs, internships,  and other opportunities. Professors are willing to help willing students who put in the effort. 

“Make an effort to collaborate with your instructor, you never know what they can do for you,” he said. 

To practice this habit, students can try communicating with their current teachers through emails and asking questions during lessons. To start building relationships early, spending emails with questions to the college staff of your future college is beneficial. 

Opportunity

With the freedom that comes with college, opportunity follows. College offers the freedom to take more classes, participate in activities, and get involved with people outside of the individual’s usual social circle.

College will be uncomfortable as it is a new experience, but discomfort is sometimes necessary. Staying trapped in the comfort zone is unhealthy. College is the perfect time to try new things and explore this new stage of life. Odds are, students will be forced out of their comfort zone naturally. 

Hopf advocates for stepping outside of the comfort zone. He was unsure about joining Greek Life or Rugby, but to his surprise, he loved it. 

“Get out of your comfort zone. Get involved, join clubs, and try things out, even if it is something you don’t think you will like- you might be very surprised,” he said. 

It is paramount to take risks. Without risk, there is no reward. Getting involved in the campus community and enjoying the college lifestyle is fundamental. College offers countless opportunities, and it would be foolish to ignore them. 

If a student has a year or so before college, it would be lucrative to join clubs or volunteer. It pushes students out of their comfort zone and connects them with their community. Furthermore, these activities can enrich college applications and serve as valuable experiences. 

End Note

The effort and preparation designated toward college will lay the foundation for academic success. Staying organized, keeping up with communication, and taking advantage of opportunities is the recipe for success. It is never too early to start building these habits. 

“The best way to prepare for college is to practice — you will not immediately master college or these habits. Practicing good habits is important,” said Hopf. 

College is a new, exciting passage of life. Practicing helpful habits to ensure academic success and taking advantage of opportunities is an effective tool when transitioning. 

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