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Social transitions

How Is College Different From High School?
Social and Interpersonal Freedom in High School v. College

Download Social transitions (PDF)

High school is required/mandatory and usually free (unless you choose otherwise). College is voluntary and expensive.
Your time is usually structured by others. You manage your own time.
You need permission to participate in extra-curricular activities (athletics, organizations, clubs, service). You must decide whether to participate in co-curricular activities. (Hint: Choose wisely in the first semester and then add later).
You can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to guide you in setting priorities. You must balance your responsibilities and set priorities. You will face moral and ethical decisions you have never faced before.
You will usually be told what to do and corrected if your behavior is out of line. You are expected to take responsibility for what you do and don't do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions.
Your parents typically manage finances for all school-related activities. You are responsible for money management of basic needs and extra spending money. (Hint: Outside jobs or work-study may be necessary and one more "activity" to consider for time management.
You usually live with and around family, friends, and neighbors who know you well, and also share similar values, beliefs, and cultural experiences. You may have never shared a private space (bedroom or bathroom) with someone else. You might live with another person (or 2-3) who you do not know, and must communicate pro-actively with them to understand who they are and what they need.  

How to make the transition to college

Suggested talking points for instructors:

  • Take control of your own education - think of yourself as a scholar.
  • Get to know your professors; they are your greatest resource. Attend class and seek them out during their office hours.
  • Be assertive. Create your own support systems, and seek help when you realize you may need it.
  • Take control of your time. Plan ahead to satisfy academic obligations and make room for everything else.
  • Take advantage of the Academic Resource Center. There are tutors available for math, writing, and many other subjects.
  • Stretch yourself. Enroll in at least one course each semester that really challenges you to think differently!
  • Make thoughtful decisions. Don't take a course just to satisfy a requirement, and don't drop any course too quickly.
  • Think beyond the moment. Set concrete goals for the semester, the year, and you college career.
  • Show up for class! Although attendance may not be taken, absence from class may show disregard and irresponsibility, which are likely to be taken into account at grading time.
  • Familiarize yourself with academic program requirements and regularly monitor your progress toward fulfilling them.
  • If and when you miss a class you must assume responsibility for obtaining the information delivered.
  • Don't wait for your professor to reach out to you; you should assume responsibility to initiate contact. Seek assistance from professors after class and during office hours.
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