Student Counseling Center
Transitioning to College
Graduating from high school and enrolling in college is the beginning of an exciting adventure that will challenge you during the next four to five years. During that time, you’ll be making some of the most important decisions you’ll ever make during your entire lifetime. You will have decided what college you will attend and what your major will be.. You will prepare yourself not only for your first career job but, to make major life choices possibly including the purchase of a home, marriage and starting a family. That is a lot to have happen within a short amount of time. The tasks before you are great, as are the rewards and risks involved in their accomplishment.
The differences between high school and college are many. (Check out the chart How is College Different than High School? to see the various ways that high school and college differ). Having an understanding of these differences can help you prepare to meet the challenges of college life. With the increase in freedom, comes the responsibility to handle our choices wisely.
The number one reason that students drop out of college is money. Having too little, spending too much, and having unexpected expenses (medical, auto, etc) can create financial problems that can bring a college career to a halt. Have you developed good money management skills?
Do you avoid the use of credit cards? Actually, credit cards are not all bad. They can be extremely useful in emergency situations and allow you to buy things online. Usually credit cards are offered to students when they enter college. The real danger with credit cards, comes when people over use them, don’t realize all the hidden costs, and don’t have a plan for paying off their balance in a timely manner. Remember, credit cards are not free. The interest or finance charge on a credit card can be as high as 25%. Some credit cards have yearly membership fees associated with them and charge extra for cash advances and late payments. Carrying a balance each month can lead to big finance charges. Whenever possible, pay off your balance each month. If you cannot pay off your balance monthly, you should be questioning whether or not you should make additional purchases.
Making wise financial choices are important. During your college years, it is important to start building good credit history. Your “Credit Report” rating is important and can affect your future purchasing power.
Although, in college you have the freedom not to attend classes in some courses, class attendance is extremely important. Engaging in the classroom experience affords you information that you will likely be tested on. Classroom experiences also provide you with the opportunity to acquire information on subjects that build on themselves and may not be understood if missed (Example: Math courses build on information previously learned during the course of the semester.) Regular attendance/participation may also make the difference in achieving a higher grade when you are bordering on one grade or another (Example: between an A or a B). Other than when you are very ill or have an emergency, you should be attending your classes. It is your class and your education that is at risk.
Study and Test Taking Skills
To be successful at the collegiate level, it is important to develop effective study and test-taking skills. Those skills may not have been as necessary for high school, but are essential for college.
In many college classes, you may have as few as two-three tests during the semester, while in high school you may have had tests weekly. This means that every grade in college carries more weight than it did in high school. If you do poorly on the first test, the opportunity to improve the semester grade may be limited to just a few more tests or papers. Food for thought…It takes at least three A’s to raise your grade point average to a B if you fail one test.
Extra credit opportunities that may have existed in high school frequently are often not offered at the college level. Extra points are not often given for “effort,” and grades are solely based upon your performance.
College classes demand that students develop critical thinking skills that allow them to use the information and connect it to previous learning. When studying, it is important that you generate questions over the material that you have just studied. This helps in test preparation and allows you to integrate the material, allowing for improved recall. By “self testing,” you provide yourself with valuable practice in organizing and in retrieving information. This process better prepares you for your test.
The Road to Academic Probation
Failure to develop effective study and test-taking skills can lead to disappointing academic performance. The reasons for not completing a college education are many. Some of the reasons are unavoidable, while others are self-inflicted. Some students who struggle have made poor choices. For example, they may have:
- Put off studying and have poor study skills…. “I didn’t have to study in high school…”
- Too much fun at the expense of studying or attending class. ie. “Video games are more fun!”
- Been unmotivated for college. “I’m only going to college because my parents are making me.”
- Not gotten involved and have a sense of not belonging. (They may go home most weekends and avoid developing a campus life.)
- Have relationship issues. i.e., parents, boyfriend/girlfriend, roommate problems
- Have financial constraints and/or don’t manage their money well.
- Procrastinate - increasing your stress level and negatively impacting your academic performance and grades.
- Don’t seek help when problems occur.
- Use alcohol or drugs (This may result in being suspended from UT Tyler. See the University’s Alcohol and Drug policy for more details).
The Road to Academic Success
In contrast, successful students….
- Are committed to their education.
- Study more and utilize effective study skills.
- Attend all classes and have a partner who will take notes when illness prevents them from being in class.
- Make connections with their professors and classmates….networking.
- Become an expert on course requirements, due dates, and know their degree plan requirements.
- Prioritize their time and activities using effective time management skills.
- Take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and actions.
- Seek a balance in their college experience, including student activities and organizations.
- Seek out the resources they need when problems occur. i.e., talk to academicadvisor, their professors, use Supplemental Instruction (SI), seek counseling from the Student Counseling Center.
- Are “proactive” in seeking solutions to task and problems.
Deciding what skills and effort that you will put forth in your transition from high school to college will be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. There is a lot at stake. It is imperative that you choose wisely.
For further information contact:Student Counseling Center University Center, Room 3170 Phone: (903) 566-7254Office hours: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
- How to Succeed in College: Learn How to Learn
- Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive Your Freshman Year and Beyond
The University of Texas at TylerStudent Services 3900 University Blvd.Tyler, Tx 75799Ph: 903.566.72541.800.UT TYLER