For Seniors: Get Ready for College! (page 4)
As graduation approaches, high school seems to matter less and less. You begin to think more and more about what comes after. First, a summer filled with friends, fun, and good-byes. Then, packing and leaving for college. You wonder what your first weeks at college will be like. Will you get along with your roommate? Will you be able to keep up with the work? Will you ever see your high school friends again?
The Emotional Roller Coaster
These questions and others may have you in an emotional tizzy. After all, big changes are ahead, in almost every area of your life. You may feel anticipation, fear, excitement, and sadness--often all at the same time. One minute you're wiping away a tear at the thought of leaving home. The next minute, your parents are so annoying you can't wait to get out of the house. Believe it or not, this is normal. Your friends are probably going through the same thing. Talk to them. Often, you feel better just knowing you're not alone.
Taking Care of Business
The end of the school year can be hectic, especially for seniors. You want to pack in as much fun and make as many good memories as you can. But don't get so distracted that your grades suffer.
"We tell students again and again that they are never admitted [to college] unconditionally," says Charles Purcell, director of guidance at Mater Dei School (CA). "When that last transcript gets there, if it isn't somewhat equal to your previous grades, colleges could very well disenroll you."
So eke out some time to study for finals or finish up that last paper. That way, you can begin your summer confident of your college plans.
Also, remember that sending in your deposit is not the end of your preparation for college. About the time that high school ends, you'll probably start getting information from your chosen college. Don't just toss the envelopes on a pile to deal with later. Many colleges have deadlines for you to express your preferences for housing, sign up for a meal plan, RSVP for freshman orientation, or even pre-register for certain classes. Sending in forms late could reduce the number of choices you have.
Students with special housing, diet, or academic needs should make sure to notify the relevant department(s). Often, this is as simple as making a note on your housing form. Students with disabilities may want to contact the college's office for students with disabilities (all colleges have one, although it may have different names at different colleges) if they need special accommodations. Keep in mind that discussing your special needs with one office doesn't necessarily mean that others at the college will know about it. If you have specific needs in housing and in diet, for example, you may need to call the housing office and the food service department separately.
Q & A
From now until the end of freshman year, you'll probably have all sorts of questions about the college.
"Oftentimes, students have many questions about moving in, what to bring to campus, how to plan for their fall courses, what kind of work-study job they will have, and many other things," says Marcy Kraus, director of orientation programs at the University of Rochester (NY). "Many students find that that college's Web site offers a great deal of information that will be useful to them, including how to contact offices and programs with questions."
If the college Web site doesn't have the answers you need, don't hesitate to call the admissions office, the residential life office, or whatever department might have the answer to your question.
Make New Friends (and Keep the Old)
Sometime during the summer, you'll probably receive the name and contact information of your freshman roommate(s). Take the time to write, call, or e-mail your soon-to-be roommate. You probably won't be best friends immediately, but you can get to know each other a little and plan what to bring to college. Perhaps your roommate can bring a TV, while you contribute the coffee pot or the stereo. A few conversations may be all it takes to feel a bit less awkward while you're hauling suitcases into your dorm room.
The summer after senior year is also an important time to reaffirm your high school friendships and family relationships. No matter how busy you are, make sure to spend time with your friends and family.
"Saying farewell to friends and family is tough, so figure out some ways and times to do it right," says John Boshoven, counselor for continuing education at Community High School (MI) and director of college counseling at the Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detriot. "Take friends to lunch, plan for how and when to communicate, and exchange addresses and e-mail addresses."
And don't forget your family. Would your younger brother appreciate seeing a ball game with you? Do your grandparents want to see you before you leave? Would your mom feel better about your going away if she helped you shop for your college needs?
Some colleges hold freshman orientation during the summer; others schedule it for the week before fall classes begin. Either way, orientation is a great time to learn about the college, meet bunches of people, and have some fun.
"Orientation programs help students adjust to their new environment and cope with the changes they will experience," says Kraus. "My advice to new freshmen is to attend as many orientation events as possible, since much of this information will be very useful to students during their first year on campus."
Expect your first weeks of college to be both exciting and overwhelming. Remember that you're in a completely new situation—the people, the place, even your daily schedule is probably very different than what you're used to. You may be more tired than usual, simply from learning and experiencing so much in such a short time (not to mention from staying up late chatting with your new friends). That's to be expected.
Many freshmen are unprepared for the amount of work college classes require and for the amount of free time they have. Especially in the first weeks, it's easy to choose an afternoon of Frisbee with new friends rather than an afternoon in the library. It can help to establish your study habits early. During the first week or two of classes, decide on a regular place and time to study. It may take some experimenting before you find a schedule that's right for you, but try to do at least some work every day.
And don't be afraid to ask for help. Your first resource will probably be your residence advisor (usually an upperclassman or graduate student who has had special training) or your academic advisor. Either one can direct you to people who can help you with whatever problem arises.
Times of transition can be stressful. Make sure you leave yourself some time to relax, to think, and to just take in the experience of being at college. You've worked hard to get here—so let yourself enjoy it!
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. © 2008 National Association for College Admission Counseling.
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