What to Expect Your First Year of College
What to Expect
You’ve survived SAT or ACT testing and the college application process. Admission letters have been mailed, and now you’re in!
Whether you’ll be attending an out-of-state university or enrolling in a local one, the transition from high school to college will be an exciting and challenging time in your life. Your college years will provide intellectual and emotional growth, as well as the opportunity for self-discovery. Are you ready?
From managing your coursework to making new friends to staying academically and financially fit, there are things you can start doing even before you graduate high school to mentally prepare yourself for life as a college student.
College Will be Very Different from High School.
During high school, your parents and teachers have likely been instrumental in helping you meet your academic goals and set priorities. However, that will change once you enter college. While your parents will still be able to urge you onward and upward, the university will expect you to be fully capable of meeting your academic and financial obligations, and prioritizing accordingly.
While professors can and do point students in the direction of on-campus resources that provide support academic or otherwise, don’t expect any handholding. You’ll be viewed as an adult and expected to take responsibility for your decisions and accept the consequences of them.
Here are some of the differences you can expect between college life and the high school world you’re leaving behind:
Expect academic differences.
Most academically gifted students acknowledge that coursework at the college level is more difficult. After you have attended orientation and registered, get a jump on your first semester classes by reviewing the syllabus—if the professor makes it available electronically in advance. The syllabus outlines the course materials, assignments, and what you’ll need to do to be prepared for each class.
Consider taking advantage of the many time management and study apps available for free. There are multiple apps designed for use on a mobile device that can help make your first year at college less daunting and more academically successful.
Expect financial differences.
As you’re likely already aware, college is expensive! According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year was $32,410 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,890 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. Whether your college education will be financed by your parents, scholarships, student loans, grants, or a mix of sources, it’ll be necessary for you to create a budget. After payment for tuition, room and board (if applicable), books, and other fees have been made, you should know approximately how much money you’ll need each month for food, personal effects, and perhaps entertainment.
Unfortunately for some collegians, the starving college student is not a myth. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may find it necessary to work a part-time job, as long as doing so will not interfere with your studies. If you don’t already have a job, consider opening a bank account in your name. Many banks offer special account types and rates specifically for students, too.
Expect social and cultural differences.
Depending on the university you’ll be attending, you could find yourself going from a homogenous high school graduating class of 1,000 to a campus of upwards of 25,000 students. You’ll be meeting new people on campus from various walks of life and cultural backgrounds. The beauty of this is that by interacting with diverse groups of people, you’ll widen your social circle. Your willingness to develop relationships with people different from you will help prepare you for future life success in an increasingly shrinking world.
Expect to stay busy.
Balancing studies, work, and social activities in college can be very stressful for incoming freshmen and could eventually have a negative impact on grades and/or their health.
To avoid this, make a schedule and stick to it. This is where a time management app can help keep you on track. Also be sure to make time for daily exercise. Not only will a quick walk or jog help ward off the “Freshman Fifteen,” but it will also clear your head and give you a nice burst of endorphins. Whatever type you choose to do, regular exercise will help you sleep and study better. Getting enough rest, as well as eating a healthy diet, will keep your stress levels down.
Expect Grace College to help you get ready.
To assist first-year students in their adjustment to college life, Grace College provides a comprehensive orientation program. The objective of this first-year program is to offer a nurturing environment where students can feel supported as they discover and pursue their academic and spiritual goals. The main components of the Freshman Experience include Welcome Weekend, the Freshman Foundations course, the Grace Core and Growth Groups.
Throughout orientation and the course, freshmen meet in breakout groups of 15 to 20 students led by a Faculty Mentor and upperclassmen Student Mentors. These groups are designed to give first-year Grace students support as each adapts to college life.
We invite you to connect with your admissions counselor and look forward to welcoming you as a new student.