High School to College: 3 Strategies for a Smooth Transition

July 7, 2021

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 should I expect? How can I best prepare?


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


Strategy 1: Your Schedule

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


Here’s the truth: College comes with more independence. 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.


In 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 to 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. 


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.


College equals more freedom and flexibility in your schedule and your studies. 


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. 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.


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.


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.


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.


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 three categories — your schedule, your studies, and your social life — should help you plan and prepare for success. 


You’ve got this!


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