Starting College: An Introduction

Starting College: An Introduction

The differences between school and college

When you start college, you will go from being one of the oldest in your school to being in the youngest college year. However, you will find you are treated more like an adult and most students find they really mature throughout their college years. Speaking of mature, you can expect to be in the same class as older students as there is no official upper age limit for college courses. Who knew you could be friends with someone the same age as your parents? It could be that your social lifestyle shifts as a result, and you may find that you now spend more time in coffee shops chatting over a latte than you do hanging out in your local park.

Similarly, if you have come from an all girls’ or all boys’ school, the mixed-sex learning environment of college may be something new to you. Your workload is likely to be more intense and demanding, and you will go from studying many subjects to your select few. You will find you have a lot more one-on-one time with your tutors who will be there to guide and help you. You may have a lot more ‘free time’ than you did at school; the challenge is to use this time wisely.

Focusing on your new course/subjects

Before you start, it makes sense to swot up on both the college and your course/subjects, as this will help you feel more prepared and ready for your first day. Look on the college’s website as it can help to put faces to names, and if you know anyone who attends or has attended the college, pick their brains to gather as much information as possible.

Why not send an email to the college asking if there are any books they recommend reading beforehand or any prior preparation you can do? This will not only help you feel more equipped but will also show you’re keen to focus on your studies and will get you off on the right foot with your tutor. Make sure you know of any dress codes, what time you are expected to arrive, whether you need to bring any lunch and the extracurricular activity options available.

What are your goals for the first few weeks?

Think about what you’re hoping to achieve in the initial few weeks of starting college. These can range from specific goals, such as achieving over 80% in your first three assignments, to more general. For example, you could aim to develop a balanced schedule, stay organised and take advantage of new opportunities. You may wish to join certain groups; colleges offer a range of new and exciting events and activities for you to participate in, and this is a great way of meeting like-minded people. Who knew that you were a pro at playing Frisbee or had an eye for photography? College is really the time to both learn new skills and reconfirm your passions.

Identify your targets and the rewards you hope to gain and then write them down; this will help motivate you to commit yourself in the crucial first few weeks.

Planning travel arrangements

To avoid being late on your first day, thoroughly plan your journey to college beforehand. If you are taking public transport, find out train/bus times and how reliable they are. Don’t forget, as a college student, you should be eligible for discounts. If you’re driving, what is the journey time in rush hour? It is may seem overly keen, but it’s wise to take a trial run before you start, just to be sure. Are there any other routes you could take in the event of traffic jams? Carpooling is a great option if you have friends going to the same college, but make sure they are reliable and punctual so they don’t hold you up.

Are you or your teenager starting college this year? Let us know how you’re preparing in the comments box below.

Take a look at our education page for books, workbooks and other resources to help you through college.