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The Problems of a Modern High School Graduate: College vs. High School

Updated on January 23, 2016

Tips to Cultivating a College Mentality

A lot of times, students going straight from high school to college run the risk of failing before the first day of class. This is because they still do not quite have a grasp of what to expect in college even after orientation. The lack of understanding comes from high school habits that students are not able to let go of. Here are a couple of tips to help shed off that high school mentality and place you in that college mindset.

Tip #1: You’re Your Own Referee

Most of you have heard this lecture before (or something equivalent to it), so I’ll make it short. You are responsible for your own life once you leave high school. That means that you have to wake yourself up for class. You have to come out of your shell and make your own group of friends. You have to find your own balance between work and play.

So if you play too much, don’t expect to make the grades. But working until you drop is the best way to make yourself bloody miserable. Misery is not something that you want to keep you company in college.

Tip #2: We Are All Equals

If you are a professor or administrator of some sort and you’re reading this article, Tip #2 probably does not apply to you. However, this is a BIG eye-opener for many students.

Unlike high school where all the students are under 20, college is a place where you will find all sorts of people. Old, young, Asian, African-American, Caucasian-American, you name it. So don’t be surprised if you walk into class and see a 75-year-old woman sitting on a student desk chair. She, just like you, is here for an education.

Tip #3: The Pain is Not in the Subjects, it’s in the Workload

In college, you will likely find yourself taking no more than 6 subjects per semester. Taking more than that is highly ill-advised and the reasons for that is two-fold. Firstly, a subject may be offered in parts. For example, some subjects come with a lab and a lecture section. Each of which can be taught by two different professors and can carry different workloads. Let’s look at an example to better explain this concept. Let’s say you enroll in a biology course with a lab and lecture. Both sections might follow the same curriculum but are taught by two different teachers. Each teacher will have his/her own way of teaching. In addition, the way that professor prepares his/her coursework may also be different. Some professors may give you little to no homework while others may give you homework every single time you enter their classroom. This leads me to the second reason for reconsidering a 6+ subject course load. Regardless of whether a course offers one or two classes, each class’ professor will assign you work based on how he or she teaches. They will expect you to finish the work they assign you, regardless of whether the work is expected to be done in a day or by the end of the semester. So be careful.

Tip #4: Be Prepared to Do Your Own Research

One of the areas that has become a topic of concern for students making that shift from high school to college is the ability to get information, in order to accomplish an assignment. Many students expect that when they enter a classroom and the professor starts talking, he/she will give the necessary information to answer any questions that professor may pose. This is a very dangerous assumption to make and one that should be avoided at all costs.

This is something I stress and will continue to stress for as long as I continue to write articles. Not all professors are willing to dedicate the time needed to address every issue (or even 80% of the issues) that a class may have. Most professors, unlike teachers, have other commitments to the school that quite sadly consume too much of their time. I’m not saying that they won’t help you. However, don’t expect them to explain everything that you will need to know in order to pass their class. You will have to find that information out on your own. So I suggest that you start becoming friendly with fellow classmates and upper-classmen, as well as the teaching assistants who help facilitate the material. These people will become your saving grace when you need some clarification about something discussed in class. This leads me to my final point.

Tip #4: Work Smart, Not Hard

As products of a society that celebrates hard work, we have been taught that hard work yields big rewards. However, we equate hard work to sitting at our desks reading page after page and doing problems for hours and hours. This has proven to be very counter-productive. You will likely tire yourself out in the process. In addition, taking that much time doing one thing will cause you to postpone doing other things like sleeping and preparing for other classes. You will have to re-wire your brain to work smart, not hard. “How do I work smart?” This is something that, sadly, not all students are taught at an early age. Luckily, I will better explain the concept of “working smart” in future articles. Until then, just keep this tip in mind. Avoid “working hard” and start “working smart”.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. All of these tips that I have stated have come from personal experience and practice. They have helped me throughout the years and I know they will help you too. Just remember to not stress out. As much as college is a step in life that can potentially affect your future, you should not approach it like a task but a challenge. Much of what you do in college, you have been doing for much of your life. You just don’t know it yet. Until we meet again, good luck.

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