It seems obvious, but your experience in college will be different than your high school experience. Most students find that being successful does not happen by chance. On the one hand, your transition will be unique to you, but on the other, you can try to learn from the experience of those who have gone before you. Here are some common challenges with potential solutions.
Transitional challenge: Grades are oftentimes based on scores on a few exams. There are not always opportunities to raise grades from homework or extra credit.
Create a study schedule with the formula of 2 hours per credit hour every week. Example: 16 credits x 2hr. = 32 hrs. of study time each week. Find a place without distractions for your study time.
You see, your brain needs time to struggle through difficult readings, new concepts, or hard material. This is how learning happens. Waiting to study just before a test or exam means you’re forcing your brain to master hard concepts in a short amount of time. You’re less likely to learn the material well, and therefore less likely to perform well on exams. This approach may also increase your anxiety before, during, and after an exam.
A study schedule gives you time to recognize what you’re struggling to understand, talk to the professor or work with a tutor to discuss your questions, and learn the material before you’ll be tested on the content.
Transitional challenge: Staying motivated for difficult classes or classes that you are not very interested in.
Increasing motivation is not easy and a full semester can be a long time to keep motivation high enough to stay engaged in all of your classes. Knowing your big goal and reminding yourself of it can help sustain motivation. Are you working hard to get into graduate school? Does making your family proud motivate you? Consider writing out the goal and keeping it in a visible place – taped to your laptop or as the wallpaper of your computer or phone.
Celebrate the small victories. Working hard on a single math problem until you understand it is a big success. Celebrate that success! Some weeks, going to every class might be a big victory. Celebrate it! As you celebrate your persistence and progress, you will be more motivated to keep moving forward.
Transitional challenge: Keeping up with academic deadlines.
Each professor provides a syllabus for the class as a way to share information on policies, such as the grade scale, and a schedule of what will be covered every week. Read the syllabi and create a master calendar of every due date. For electronic calendars, add a notification to remind you in advance of due dates so that you have plenty of time to write your paper or study for the exam.
First & Second Year Advising offers many scheduling templates to help you with time management.
Transitional challenge: Knowing how to study effectively.
While not one study habit works for everyone, there are many strategies that nearly universally promote academic success. LUC offers numerous resources to help you in your academic transition.
Talk to your professors early on. Let them know what you are doing when you study and ask if they have any suggestions for different approaches. Find tips on how to build good relationships with professors here.
Transitional challenge: Information is shared differently with families in college due to F.E.R.P.A., federal regulations that protect the confidentiality of your student records.
Discuss with parents or guardians how you would like for them to be involved in your academic decisions. If you are comfortable with family member having access to your financial and academic account in LOCUS, follow instructions to set up a guest account for each person.
Adding LOCUS access does not mean parents and guardians will receive progress reports. Grades are made available in LOCUS after the conclusion of the semester, therefore if a parent or guardian is interested in knowing how you are doing in a class, you must communicate this information based on feedback received from professors.
How can you prepare for your transition to college? Start talking to your friends and family for feedback and discuss how they can support you so that you have ideas before you step on campus to start the semester.