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10 High School To College Transition Tips

Moving from high school to college is daunting for almost every student out there. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do while still in high school to make things easier.

Here are 10 tips to make the high school to college transition easier for every student going into their freshman year.

Take a minute to learn about our various SAT prep and ACT prep course options today.

high school to college transition

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Sharpen Your Study Skills

In college, you’re going to study a lot.

Get your toolbox ready for it in high school. When making the transition to college, do the following consistently: Take Good Notes, Review Lecture Materials and Readings, Attend Class Consistently, Don’t Skip Assignments. Sound simple? It probably does but many freshmen let those things slide when getting used to campus. When they do, grades quickly fall.


sat to iq

Develop Time Management Skills

In college, no one is forcing you to attend class.

The responsibility to do well is all on you. Making sure to attend classes on time, do your work, and show up for exams is critical. College professors are not required to make you attend. That’s why it’s important to lay out your class schedule, assignments, tests, and other responsibilities and create a workable schedule.

You won’t be able to cram for tests the night before like in high school. Plan for spending at least 2-3 hours of study time for each hour of regular class. Remember that tests in college cover much more ground; to do well on them, you need to put in the time to know everything thoroughly.

Work On Reading Skills

College reading assignments are often dense; you need to know how to extract information from them.

If you come across new or difficult words, have a dictionary on hand for quick reference. Learn how to break down an author’s argument and how it’s presented. Understand the context information is presented in, especially if asked questions where you need to access information from surrounding paragraphs for help. Build up your vocabulary and grammar rules inventory.

Be Ready To Write A Lot

Essays and papers will be your life in college; get ready for them in high school.

Work on how to organize an argument from top to bottom. You should be able to develop a thesis and support it with evidence. If you are to present an argument over multiple pages, then it’s imperative to have its structure thought out and supported. Otherwise, your professor will see you grasping at thoughts while trying to fill up space. Your goal should be logically developing an idea with ample evidence, without being too stiff to read.

Take Care Of Yourself

Develop healthy eating and rest habits.

College is the time to explore and express yourself in a new environment. Partying and long hours often result. However, if you choose to ignore sleep, diet, and exercise, your academic performance will undoubtedly drop. Stress also builds up too from poor self-care married with a full class load.

Do the best you can to establish a workout routine you enjoy, even if it’s something as simple as walking. Next, couple that activity with a simple, consistent diet you can maintain. Your body and mind will thank you in the long run.


Be Assertive

If you’re an overly shy person, you’ll need to work on developing assertiveness with others.

Almost all college freshmen live with roommates. Living with strangers requires frequent negotiation about space and social boundaries. You will need to establish what you are comfortable with tolerating from this new person. If you have specific rules that you live by, then let that person know. However, if there are moments of tension that arise, use the word “I” instead of “you” because it addresses your concerns without sounding hostile.


Don’t Allow Procrastination

College course work is overwhelming at times. Don’t let putting it off become the habit.

Remember that you are in college to learn and grow. Putting off the hard work that comes along only wastes your time and guarantees bad grades. Instead, look at the many large projects you’ll tackle and break them down into manageable tasks.

It’s easier to write a semester-ending term paper when you’ve spent the previous weeks working on notes and an outline. Preparation guarantees result in college; hoping to do well alone guarantees failure. Plus, completing those manageable tasks will help build your confidence over time.


Learn To Laugh At Yourself

School is stressful, but don’t let stress overwhelm who you are.

Learn to take a moment or two every day and laugh. It can be about something that you saw that day or about the absurdity you’ll face from professors and classmates. The point is to accept that you don’t need to feel bothered by your quirks or insecurities.

You’re in an environment with people working hard to better themselves; that fact alone means that none of them are perfect. You don’t have to force yourself to be perfect either. A good laugh will help remind you.

cost of attendance breakdown

Learn How To Budget

More than likely, you will live on your own and need to manage a budget.

College is the first time many high school students actively manage their personal finances. It is a whole new world; you have to determine what you need, how much those things cost, and what you have left over. Figure out where your income is coming from too.


Will you be working? Taking out loans? Getting money from family? Sitting down to figure out expenses on a weekly, monthly, and semester basis is important. The earlier you can learn how to effectively budget for yourself, the less stress you’ll feel.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Help

Adjusting to a new environment is a struggle for many people.

It’s especially difficult for students who choose to do it all by themselves. Whether it’s out of fear or pride, many freshmen carry unrealistic burdens on themselves mentally and emotionally. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, check on campus for student resources designed to help.

Most schools have student services catering to academic tutoring, mental health, personal counseling, etc. that are there to help. If you want to get more out of your campus experience, many clubs and organizations exist to accept you. The point is that you’re not alone in college unless you choose to be. Enjoy the social experience you’ll receive there.

high school to college transition

How Prep Expert Can Help

Besides providing standardized test prep, we also offer comprehensive admissions consulting services.

We know that getting a great SAT or ACT score is a huge part of the battle, but it’s not the final victory blow. You also need to work on your application essay, itemize and prioritize your extracurriculars, work on your interview skills, etc. We can also provide further help on making that transition your freshman year, besides the tips offered here.

Thankfully, our Admissions Director is available to help both students and parents ace the process. For more information, take a moment to check out our Admissions Consulting page for services and updates.

For more test strategy, college admissions, and scholarship application tips sign up for our FREE class happening right now!

Todd Marcus

Written by Todd Marcus

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