Smooth Transition from High School to College

Going from High School student to College student is a big adjustment for everybody. Learn about some of the programs many colleges offer to make that transition as smooth as possible

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  • By Megan Dixon
  • Campus Resources
  • Posted June 09, 2017

College life brings a lot of changes to your life - more freedom, more demanding classes, less structure, making new friends, and being away from home are just a few of the things that can cause you stress. Even straight-A students in High School have trouble adjusting to this new environment. The good news is that colleges are aware of the stresses on their students, and campuses offer many resources to help, whether you are struggling academically, financially, personally, or emotionally. 

Here are just a few of the services that colleges offer that can help make the transition to college life as smooth as possible:


Academic Success

Don’t understand the current topic in you math or organic chemistry class? Having trouble keeping up with all the assigned reading? Need someone to look over your term paper? Don’t worry. Universities offer many academic support services to help. These can range from professional or peer tutors to help you understand a challenging class or subject, or tools and programs to help you with your time management skills or test-taking abilities. The names for these various programs may differ by college, but the key is making sure you aware of them before starting your semester, and most importantly: making use of them before you fall too far behind.


Resident Advisors (RAs)

If you are living in a residence hall on campus, chances are you will have a Resident Advisor (RA) living on your floor. Your RA will often be the first person you should talk to about any number issues, especially housing, and roommates in particular. If you are having an issue with a roommate or suite mate, talk to your RA first before taking more extreme measures such as requesting a new housing assignment or moving back home all together. Also don't hesitate to talk to your RA about any other issue you may be having, including social or academic. They have been on campus for a while, and can steer you in the right direction to get help.


Career Services

Your plans for a career after college often times drive many of the decisions you make while you're there - things like choosing a major, seeking out internships, etc. Your college career services office will have people to talk to and tools to help you explore your interests and possible majors/careers. They can also help you internship opportunities and job shadow possibilites. Later on in your college career, the career office will be intstrumental in helping you prepare for your job search, from interview preperation to resume and cover letter reviews.


Academic Advising

The academic advising services offered by your school may come in many forms. Some colleges will assign you a faculty member as a mentor, with whom you may meet regularly. Other universities will have an academic advising office, similar to the career services center. Regardless of the form they take, academic advising services are there to help you chart out your academic career. They will help you plan the courses you'll take to be able to meet the requirements for your chosen major and keep you on track for graduation. If you run into any issues at all with your classes during the semester, your academic advisor will be able to point out the resources available on campus that can help.


Counseling/Mental Health Services

If you are feeling especially down during your first few weeks away and missing home, having someone to talk to can make all the difference. Colleges take the mental health of their students seriously, and offer counselors to help students deal with emotional stress. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment to see a counselor if you feel especially homesick or if you are going through a difficult period in your life. The counselors can help you work through your feelings or a tough situation and help deal with whatever emotional weight you may have on your shoulders. Seeking help is not something to be ashamed of, and just having someone to listen can work wonders. 

If you need to talk to someone immediately, most colleges offer some form of help hotline that you can reach 24/7. 


Medical Services

A college campus is like a small town or even a city, and like any town, stuff happens when thousands of people live and learn in close proximity. The campus medical center is the place to go if you are feeling sick or have hurt yourself (flag football can be rough!). Some college health centers are very well equipped, but most will at least be able to give basic care and refer you to a larger facility if needed. Always remember though, if it is an emergency, don’t hesitate to call emergency services. 


Financial Aid

College is expensive, and most of us are unable to afford it on our own. The campus Financial Aid office is your stop to find out about financing options. Things also can come up during the course of the year that change your situation, such as a parent losing a job making it more difficult for them to help pay your tuition as they had planned. In such cases, go speak to a financial aid counselor, they will be able to look at your situation and help you find additional aid to stay in school and finish your education.


Legal Services

In case you need help with a legal situation, most colleges offer some kind of legal advice office that can provide basic legal services. They can provide some limited guidance, and if necessary provide recommendations for a dedicated attorney to help


Disability Services

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides options for students with learning or physical disabilities. Your school will have someone on campus who will be able to help you understand the various options available to you in order to best set you up for success. The key is to find this person and have those conversations early, preferably before the semester begins, in order to make sure you don't fall behind and find yourself trying to catch up


If You Need Help...Ask!!

Being new to campus can be stressful, but their are people and programs in place to help you. The key is to recognize early that you are struggling to adjust, and to make the effort to find the resources you need to be successful. College is about learning to be an adult, and one of the biggest steps to adulthood is learning that it is OK to ask for help if you need it.


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