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What is one aspect of college that most college students and alumni have experienced and what makes that experience memorable?

I'm still a high school junior who is preparing for college. My teachers, friends and family all talk about how difficult college can be and I want to know what challenges or experiences I might face going into college so I can better equip myself for it.

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Lan’s Answer

Hi Eric,

My nephew just graduated high school last week and I am going to give you the same advice that I gave him. First off, congrats on making the decision to go to college, that is a huge first step! It is a time for exploration, learning, and with that comes new found freedom and time. That is the biggest change you'll face. You will be responsible for setting up your schedule, dedicated time to study and attend class, extracurriculars, part-time job, etc. What you do with your time is going to matter the most! There will be a lot of exposure and distractions so you'll have to decide what's best for you. When time get hard, ask for help! And sometime setbacks are meant so you can move forward so be kind to yourself. Self-compassion is a must. Just keep moving and do not give up. You got this!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Lan! Eric
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Martha’s Answer

Good for you for planning ahead like this, Eric. First, I would like to balance your perspective a little. College can be difficult academically, socially, and emotionally, but it can also be exhilarating, fulfilling, and joyful - sometimes more than one of these adjectives at once.

Let's break it down a little. The academic or intellectual challenges could come generally with the higher caliber of work expected in college and with encountering new or advanced courses. Hopefully, you have been developing core skills throughout school as well as study skills so the work does not become overwhelming. Most colleges have tutoring and/or writing centers as well as mental health services. Feel free to take full advantage of them.

Social challenges could include making new friends, dealing with people different from you, and more. You may have dealt with this if you moved during school or as you transitioned to a new school. Know that feeling uncomfortable while you are settling is normal and you may need to try different techniques to adjust. Most people find their niche during their first year; if you don't make progress, you could talk with your resident advisor or counseling services for ideas. Infrequently, you may need to consider transferring.

Emotional challenges can closely linked to social challenges, compounded by homesickness and concerns about inferiority. Acknowledge these feelings and talk them through with your family and trusted friends. Seek professional help, if needed.

In short, you have been developing the skills and resilience you need to be successful in college. Wishing you good luck!
Thank you comment icon Great insight, thanks for the advice Martha. Eric
Thank you comment icon You're welcome! I appreciate your note. :-) Martha Kramer
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Jason’s Answer

Hello Eric,

One of the most significant transitions you'll experience as a recent college graduate is the newfound freedom that comes along with it. In high school, you're used to a structured schedule, with your parents often guiding your activities at home. However, in college, the responsibility of time management falls squarely on your shoulders.

You're in charge of crafting your course schedule to your liking, whether that means stacking all your classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or spreading them out over the week. You also have to allocate time for studying, running errands, and of course, some well-deserved relaxation. College life is a lot more fluid, which can be both a challenge and an opportunity.

From my experience as a former Resident Assistant on campus, I've observed that successful students are those who can effectively manage their time and strike a balance between various aspects of their lives. College serves as your first taste of this juggling act, which eventually extends to managing work, leisure, and family time in the future.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice Jason. Eric
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Nina’s Answer

Hi Eric,

Some challenges that people typically face in college are managing their time well so that they have time for themselves and their courses. However, once you get the hang of it, it should be a lot easier. I recommend listing all of your assignments for the week and choosing days when you want to work on them that week, at the beginning of the week, so that you can make sure that you do not accidentally leave all of your assignments until the day that they are due. I would recommend planning to finish your assignments at least a day before they are due, in case you run into any issues that you may need help on from your teachers or peers. However, I do not want you to think that if you do not finish every single assignment a day before the due date you will not succeed because everyone falls behind sometimes. I just wanted to bring this up because, if you start off with planning to get your assignments done a day in advance or more, it will be easier to keep this up overtime.

There are many positive aspects to college that you can be excited for. You will meet new people, be able to take classes that interest you, work with teachers that can mentor you, and join student groups that interest you. I did not enjoy college at first because I was away from home and all my friends and a big thing that helped me was joining a student group at my school and later being on the board of this group. It helped me feel more like a part of my school and I met some of my very close friends in this group.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice Nina. Eric
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Jashon’s Answer

Being a part of a fraternity makes a huge impact! If you are in a position to I would suggest doing it. You will create friends and career opportunities from doing this. I also suggest that you go to all events. Getting the degree is memorable but the friends and events are the most impactful and meaningful.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the great advice Jashon. Eric
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Alexis’s Answer

College is truly a canvas for you to paint your own experience. If you approach it as a daunting task, it's likely to become one. However, if you dedicate the necessary time, effort, and energy, it can be a rewarding and less strenuous journey. The most significant hurdle I faced was mastering self-management. From pre-kindergarten through high school, your schedule is dictated - when to sleep, eat, converse, even when to use the restroom. Your parents are there to guide you, ensuring you stay on track towards graduation. But college brings a thrilling sense of freedom, a feeling I had never encountered before. This newfound liberty initially led me to struggle with managing my time effectively. Of course, immerse yourself in the college experience - join clubs, consider a fraternity, make lasting friendships, but always keep your ultimate goal in sight. Remember, your college journey is about achieving your dreams!
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the helpful advice Alexis! Eric
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