5 Things To Keep In Mind During The Transition Between High School And College
Written by Jamie Stewart
Congratulations! You graduated high school! Now you’ve officially entered this flexible, indescribable, intermittent period between your last hometown final and your first day of college orientation. You’re probably feeling angst, anticipation, and just a smidge of worry. Maybe you’re even starting to doubt the path you’re on. But don’t worry. These awkward transitional months will eventually pass. Some day soon, you-from-the-future will look back on your last summer of freedom and smile. Until that day comes, here are some tips to keep in mind during your transition from high school to college.
This Is One Step
If you’re already claustrophobic in your small town or you feel the need to gain your own independence, here’s your chance. Going to college marks a huge step in your life. You’re most likely moving out of your parents home and into a space all your own, whether that be a dorm room or a campus apartment. You’re about to start making your own rules (for the most part). Moving away from home and starting the next chapter in your life will give you a taste of the freedom you’ve been so anxiously craving. Look forward to this newfound sense of independence. No one will tell you when to clean your room. No one will force you to eat lima beans at the dinner table. No one even has to see your grade if you don’t want them too. Leaving high school in part means leaving behind some of the restrictions of your childhood.
This Is JUST One Step
If you find yourself not quite ready to leave behind the comforting nest of high school and teenage-dom, don’t worry. Starting college doesn’t mean starting a whole new life. Just a new chapter. There are tons of ways to make the transition into adulthood easier and less intimidating. If you’re not ready to flip that switch completely, you could try living at home and commuting to school or use weekends to take short trips back home for a nice warm meal and the comforting feeling of sleeping in your old room again.
The good thing about gaining your independence is that you can use it to make the choices about your life that will work the best for you.
This Isn’t Written In Stone
If you’ve made the decision (and the down payment) to attend college in the fall, August may be looming ominously in your future. You may feel trapped in your decision. Even if you haven’t committed to a college just yet, odds are you’re feeling the pressure to enroll in a program and start earning credits. But hold on. Take a step back and breathe. I’ll let you in on a little secret… You don’t have to rush into college; it's going to be an option for a long time. Have you thought about taking a gap year? Have you considered traveling the world and exploring the person you want to be instead of immediately strapping in for another four (or more!) years of notes, lectures, and standardized tests? College isn’t for everyone and everyone finds themselves at their own pace. So, even if you’ve bought the mini-fridge and already picked out your dorm room bedding, it’s never too late to change your mind or defer for a year.
This Won’t Last Forever
Do you remember your first day of ninth grade? It probably feels like just yesterday you were navigating the halls and trying to find your way to your freshman homeroom class. Well, if you think high school passed in a blur, know this; college passes just as quickly. Instead of getting bummed out about your fading youth, live it up! Make it a point to be mindful of the moments you are in. Savor these experiences before the game changes all over again. If you can make summer plans to see your high school friends don’t pass up that opportunity. There’s a reason it’s so trendy to take Polaroid pictures right now. Stock up on film and friends and you’ll be set to make memories and look back on them later on. When September comes and classes start you will most likely be surrounded by a whole new crowd of young people. While you might not drift apart from your high school friends, you will certainly meet and have adventures with new people. For that reason, it’s important to savor your last few months with the people you’ve grown up with just in case your paths diverge in the future.
This Is A Big Deal
These days, it’s expected that you’ll go to college. Even in the past 14 years alone, the total undergraduate enrollment rate in postsecondary institutions has skyrocketed from 13.2 million to 17.3 million students attending a degree-granting institute after high school. A side effect of college becoming the default path is that fewer people view it as an accomplishment than used to. But know that it is an accomplishment, and you deserve to be proud of yourself for achieving your scholarly goals. You’ve worked hard over the past four years to get to this point in your life, whether that means you studied when you would have rather been watching Netflix, or you went out of your way to participate in activities that gave back to the community that raised you. No matter what anyone tells you, be proud of the things you’ve done to get to where you are today.
Reconsidering your college plans? Learn more about taking a gap year before college!