High School to College: Strategies for a Smooth Transition

March 30, 2022

Did you recently graduate from high school? Hooray! 


Naturally, you’re making plans for your future—whether you will enter the workforce or continue your education.


More than 60 percent of high school graduates enroll at a college or university, according to the latest data from bls.gov. If you’re part of this category, you’re likely wondering about your college transition.


What is college like? Is college better than high school?

What should I expect? How can I best prepare?


You’re asking the right questions! In this article, you’ll learn strategies for a smooth and seamless transition to college.


How is college different from high school?

If you want to make a successful college transition, you should understand the main differences between college and high school. 


1. College vs High School: More Independent Schedule


This reality can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you handle it.


Your high school schedule was probably highly structured, with classes all day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., give or take. Plus, if you add in homework, a part-time job, and extracurriculars, free time is virtually nonexistent, at least during the weekdays.


When you transition to college, however, you’ll find more open spaces in your schedule—depending on your course load and employment status, of course. Typically, undergraduate students juggle between 12 and 18 credit hours each semester (four to six classes).


Whether you take classes online or on-campus, the bottom line is that you’ll have bigger blocks of time off during the day. This means you’ll want to have a plan to manage your time and structure your schedule. 


2. College vs High School: More freedom and flexibility in your studies.

college vs high school: the difference in studying


In high school, your classes are pretty well established: math, science, social studies, English, etc. 


In college, you get to choose your area of study (i.e., major) and the corresponding classes. The main point here is that college comes with more responsibility and ownership of your education. 


College also gives you the option to go to class—or, not. You decide when you finish your work and what will become a priority in your everyday life. 


When transitioning from high school to college, most students struggle with this freedom during their freshman year. Some often forget about assignments, miss class, or even put studying aside. 


Don’t be like that. At the end of the semester, you will regret it. 


Read on to find helpful tips we got to help you get your work ethic strong. 


3. College vs High School: New friendship, new community


As you transition to a fresh chapter in your life, your relationships will change. You’ll find new friendships and will likely navigate changing social dynamics, especially with family members.


If you’re moving away from home, college will be a chance to experience an increased sense of independence from your usual community. You may feel disoriented and homesick for a little while. Thankfully, technology makes it simple to stay in touch with family and friends from afar.


The transition to college might push you outside your comfort zone. Getting uncomfortable can actually be a positive thing. Push through and commit to investing in new friendships and getting involved in your community.


Strategies for a smooth transition to college


Strategy 1: Your Schedule

Make a plan to manage your time and structure your schedule.


Remember: It’s important to prioritize time for work as well as rest and recreation. Here are a few tried-and-true time management tips for college students:


  • Purchase a planner or notebook and write down your deadlines and daily to-do lists.
  • Break up your papers and projects into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • Plan and avoid procrastination by building in goals and rewards.
  • Wake up and go to sleep around the same time most days.
  • Try to take one day off each week so you can rest and recharge.
  • Pray and invite God into all the details of your daily life.


Don’t be alarmed if you struggle with time management at first. Be patient as you transition to a new environment and chapter of your life. Use this opportunity to put in place healthy habits that set yourself up for success in the short and long term.

Be patient as you transition to a new environment and chapter of your life.

Strategy 2: Your Studies

Take your education seriously and ask for help as often as needed.


As you’re making the transition to college, it’s important to take your studies seriously and know the academic resources available to you.


Taking your studies seriously starts with choosing a major that’s a good fit for you. Here are some questions to consider.


  • What subjects do you love?
  • What are your gifts, skills, and specialties?
  • What career could you envision yourself working five years from now? 
  • Do you want to work in an office or be out and about on your feet? 
  • What is your preferred salary range?


When you’re studying an academic area that interests you, you’ll find it easier to persevere and retain your coursework. 


Many majors also allow you to choose an area of emphasis or specialization. For example, business majors can be paired with a minor in accounting, advertising, or entrepreneurship — just to name a few options.


>> Side note: Crown College offers more than 40 accredited degree options through our on-campus and online programs. Learn more about our majors and discover your passion here.


Once you choose your major, you’ll receive a degree plan that serves as a guide to help you plan your schedule, choose the right classes, and stay on track toward graduation.


In addition to your degree plan, colleges and universities provide various resources to ensure students are healthy, cared for, and equipped to succeed. 


  • Professors
  • Academic advisors
  • Support staff
  • Admissions counselors
  • Career services
  • Resident assistants
  • Writing and academic centers
  • Library and research support
  • Rec center
  • Tutoring
  • Disability services
  • Counseling
  • Health services


These resources and personnel exist for the benefit of every student. No matter your college or university, know what’s available to you, and don’t hesitate to take advantage of all the support services and benefits that come with being a college student.


Strategy 3: Your Social Life

Invest in new friendships and get involved in your community.


transition to college: making new friends


The people you spend the most time with will influence who you become, so choose your friendships wisely and ask God to put the right people in your path.


One of the best ways to meet new people is to get involved on campus or in your community. Colleges and universities offer countless clubs and organizations to help you plug in, give back, and grow your social circle.


Opportunities range from fraternities and sororities to intramural sports and campus ministries. These activities will enrich your college experience and provide a place for belonging, joy, and support.


Strategy 4: Strong work ethic

Develop a strong work ethic to stay motivated and driven every day. 


God is glorified by diligence, but having a strong work ethic doesn’t mean it’s all work all day every day with no free time. 


The key to developing a good work ethic is two-fold: self-discipline and time management. These things come easily to some people, and not to others, so start putting good habits into place now as you anticipate your college transition


As you practice more at keeping your schedule, being punctual, and displaying professionalism (yes, even in class!), you will develop a balance between work and play. 


Bonus Strategy: Budgeting


College students don’t have the luxury of having everything they need all the time. You can’t go to the movies every weekend, splurge by purchasing new clothes regularly, or go out to eat whenever you want.


When transitioning from high school to college, as you meet new people and discover new places, those demands can be tempting. 


However, do remind yourself to live on a budget. You don’t always have the same privileges you have in high school. In addition, college is expensive. It’s better to have a good sense of budgeting and “doing without” before you even arrive on campus. 


>> Related article: Why Does College Cost So Much?



Let’s face it: Transitioning from high school to college is a process. It’s easier for some than others, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the journey. Keeping in mind these strategies should help you plan and prepare for success. 


You’ve got this!


Wondering how to get started at Crown? There’s a team ready to help you. >