Preparing For College

Preparing For College

Although the thought of attending college is as intimidating as it is a robust academic experience, apprehensive feelings can be quelled by adequately acknowledging the major differences between the high school hallways and the university campus. Prospective students must understand that attending college is about experiencing the trials and tribulations that come with the territory. This mindset will leave the prospective student well equipped to deal with the drastic changes that accompany their decision to attend. Therefore, coming to terms with such distinctions permits one to devise personal solutions to the inevitable challenges they will be faced with when they step on campus.

dv1644021Class Structure

University and colleges undoubtedly have larger class sizes than the average high school. To function at the level of academic rigor required by the institution, the structure of the university class is drastically shifted to accommodate this reality. As a result, many classes in college (particularly first year classes) are highly impersonal and less interactive than those in high school. Due to the large class size there is less opportunity for the clarification of key concepts and ideas, simply due to a lack of reasonable time to accommodate every student’s need. Moreover, for many students, asking questions in this environment will be extremely intimidating due to the sheer number of peers present in the lecture hall. One should be aware of their own personality traits and work to develop their comfort level within this environment. In later years class sizes become smaller, however thoughtful discussion takes precedence. Successful completion of upper year courses does not emphasize, but rather requires active participation in classroom discussions to achieve this end.

While occurring less frequently in college, every student will encounter a group project at least once during their university career. Group projects are a tricky territory because it is difficult for every participant to have the same desires and expectations from the course. In this way, group projects can make or break a student’s grade simply due to how committed other group members are to pulling their weight. Often a couple members may slack and barely produce anything, while the remainder will work diligently to produce a good quality project. Often each group member is awarded the same grade for their participation rather than based on their individual contributions. In lieu of the above, diligent and committed group members may become frustrated with an unsatisfactory mark. On the contrary, working and learning independently screens out the possibility of this frustration, but shoulders the burden of productivity on the lone scholar.

SMART GoalsWork Load

Time management is a revered skill in college; the token of a wholesome college experience. One will be expected to effectively manage their academic, work, and social life to fulfill their decision to attend college. The type of work involved will vary according to one’s major, however the general rule of thumb for most students is that for every hour of class there will be at least two hours of studying. Studying includes keeping up to date with assigned readings, writing assignments, collaborating with colleagues, and prepping for tests. Each class will generally cover an assigned reading or chapter in which the student is expected to have read prior to the lecture. If a reading is missed the class will still proceed as if the student had done the required reading. Therefore it is pertinent to stay on top of readings to gain a comprehensive understanding of the course content. Falling into a vicious cycle of “playing catch-up” can drastically reduce a student’s chances for success in fulfilling the course requirements, particularly if they are taking a full course load. With each class comes a variety of grading schemata used to test the student’s knowledge of the course content. Essays, assignments, projects, and exams will comprise the majority of these grades. Over the course of their university career, the student will develop their own strategies and approaches for engaging these schemata, and will generally find effective strategies to achieve success.

Key Points

In conclusion, transitioning to college requires one to acknowledge the differences between college level instruction and high school level instruction. To prepare one must know what they want to get out of college and what to expect when they get there. Moreover, being aware of the realities of life as a rational being on campus will provide prospective students with the skills and “know-how” to effectively integrate into their new environment, and be successful in their academic endeavors.