12 Steps to Ease Your Transition to College
Will classes be online, in person or hybrid?
It is time to begin a new and exciting journey, and COVID-19 has added a bit of uncertainty. The first few weeks of college are exhausting even in “normal” years. Everything is new, and you may find yourself stressed about the details. Who will I eat lunch with? Where is the gym? When do I do my laundry? Since there will be many unknowns this year, we suggest controlling what you can control. By following these steps, you can set yourself up for success and free up more energy to address other needs as they arise.
- Take plenty of time now to explore your college website. When you were a prospective student, you might have just been looking at the pictures, but now you are looking for answers. Who can help me when I need to change classes? When does the Robotics Club meet? Are theater auditions only open to drama majors?
- Surf the school’s learning management system. You may have received instructions on how to create and access your account at the email address you applied with but from here on out, the college is going to use your new email address that they host, so you should, too. If you can access your account now, sometimes class syllabi are uploaded early and you can get an idea of expectations. Has your schedule been confirmed? Class delivery will be posted as online, in person or hybrid.
- Check your new school email several times a week for announcements and know deadlines are just that: your last chance to get something done. Right now, college life is changing regularly. It is your job to stay on top of news and updates. Any deadlines for tuition, registration, and orientation dates are your responsibility. It is different than high school, where your parents would remind you or you could go to the guidance office and ask for an extension.
- If you haven’t already done so, connect with all of your school’s social media (Twitter, Instagram, etc.) today. This is where the latest information will come, and we recommend parents do the same.
- Orient yourself with the campus and school map. Where is your dorm in relation to the fitness center, writing lab, cafeteria, advising center, and library?
- Be prepared for class registration. Students should do this, not parents. Consider several schedules so you are aware of options and know what general requirements you need to meet before graduation. Keep an active list of potential classes nearby because chances are high that you will have to pick your second or third option. Your schedule should be like a well-rounded meal with some good for you requirements as well as something delicious you are really looking forward to. Check with older students and professor ratings for specific recommendations.
- Peruse clubs, intramural sports and activities. Are there any Zoom meetings this summer? In September, attend any of the first meetings – you don’t have to sign up, but you will meet other students with similar interests. You have nothing to lose by attending, even if it is online.
- Submit requests for and double-check any accommodations if you have a diagnosed learning difference, mental health concern or physical disability or condition . Should you qualify for accommodations, please set it up this summer. Even if you didn’t use them in high school, college class instruction and delivery is different and using the accommodations you are qualified for can help make a smooth transition. Having the potential to get class notes, record lectures or receive extra time to complete tests or papers may be a tremendous help, especially while you acclimate the first semester.
- Familiarize yourself with the resources available on campus. Many large universities have tutoring in freshman dorms for general education requirements like Calc 101, English 100 or entry-level Physics. Again, a great place to meet people!
- Are there required online mini classes on topics like drug and alcohol awareness, the school’s ethics code or sexual harassment? Get those done now. Often those 3-hour classes must be completed by the first day of school. The last thing you want to do the night before the first day, while everyone else is in your hall or outside meeting each other, is watch a training video. Today is a perfect day to check those off your list.
- Arrange doctor appointments so everything is current. If anything comes up while you’re at school, you will be very thankful. This includes ordering extra contacts or eyeglasses, updating any neuropsych reports, getting a regular checkup and making sure all immunizations are up to date (have those in a computer file – your parents should, too). And while you’re at it, double-check that you have a picture of each side of your health insurance cards on your phone.
- Get organized. Determine how you will track your work and assignments. Will you use a paper planner (which we love) or an electronic one? Also, take some time now to clean out your computer. Make folders. If you get a new computer, please use it now instead of waiting for the first day of school. Make sure it has all the required programs you will need installed.
Every student has different college expectations. Those perceptions come from older siblings, websites, tv, social media, and friends. Some think it is going to be one big party; others can’t wait to participate in sports or the arts; others are hyper-focused on studying and exams. The most successful students recognize that college is a combination of all of these, and it requires planning, accountability and time management to craft a well-rounded experience.
Elizabeth Pyle. M.Ed, is a well-respected leader helping college students succeed. Her nationwide, research based, results-oriented program keeps students accountable and on track while learning life long skills. In general, students perform better in school, feel less stress, gain more confidence and have a clearer path to independence. When she is not working or collaborating with the CSP team, she is spending time with her husband, four children, staying active outside, reading, traveling and volunteering.
At College Success Plan we help bring balance to our college students’ lives so they can experience everything college has to offer. We are experts at keeping students on track and performing to the best of their ability.