Goodbye, high school. Hello, college!

Maybe those are words you’ve been wanting to shout from the rooftops for a long time now. Maybe you’re secretly terrified about going to college. Whatever your excitement level, the truth is that transitioning to college is not without its challenges. What can you do to prepare? Here are some ideas.

Get organized.

If you’re a great student with a tried-and-true recordkeeping and organization system that has worked for you all through high school, great! Now, just keep it up. However, if you coasted through high school with a messy locker, have a dusty day planner from 2007 stuffed in your backpack, and have never really considered yourself a write-things-down type of person, now is the time to change your ways. At college, you’ll be expected to be responsible for yourself, and that means staying on top of multiple deadlines and obligations, not procrastinating, and managing your time wisely.

Seek help if you need it.

Nobody expects you to show up at college and know exactly how to be successful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can turn to your resident advisor if you’re living on campus, find a student or professor mentor (some schools have mentorship programs for freshmen), get to know your academic advisor, or even befriend a staff person. You’ll also find lots of services designed to help students succeed—tutoring and writing centers, disability services, career centers, counseling services, and much more. (Learn more about learning resources and support services at Front Range.) Find out what is available to you and take advantage of it.

Take some risks.

College is a time of exploration, new friendships, new ways of thinking. You’ll likely learn a lot about yourself, and you might be surprised by how much you change. So, move outside your comfort zone. Get to know people you might not have ever crossed paths with in high school. Take a class in something you’ve always wanted to learn more about. Challenge yourself. And don’t be afraid to do things differently than you’ve always done them.

Get involved.

Whether you’re attending a college across the country or five minutes from home, you will get the most out of the college experience if you get involved in student life. Clubs and organizations are a great way to meet new people, explore your passions and interests, and build that resume (college goes quickly—before you know it, you’ll be trying to get a job).

Work hard.

College is a lot of fun. There are activities and events going on all the time, and it’s very easy to get distracted by your brand new social life. Remember that while you are at college to grow as a person, your first priority should always be your education. College classes move at a faster pace and there is less hand-holding. Show up to class ready to listen and learn, study hard, and get to know your professors.

The high-school-to-college transition isn’t always easy, but be patient. It takes time to adjust to a totally new environment, new people, and new academic expectations.

If you’re already a college student or are making the transition now, what tips do you have?

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