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    Easing The Transition To College
    Maurice Elias  

Why do some students have difficulty adjusting to college while others do just fine? Mental health experts think the nature of the transition from high school to college may have a lot to do with it.

The level of independence a student has in high school and at home is a strong influence on how well a student makes the transition to college. Young adults who are sheltered by parents, overly programmed to achieve, treated like children or given little independence in school may have a harder time adjusting to the new responsibilities and demands of college life.

Age can also complicate the transition process. At 18, students are in many ways still adolescents. They are in the active stage of identity development, concerned with trying to figure out who they are and what they are going to do. Peer pressure is still very relevant and can have a disproportionate impact on the choices students make.


    Ease The Transition Process  

Seek out advisers:
Get to know as many academic or resident advisers as possible until you find at least one you can trust and with whom you can communicate. Advisers are trained to deal with common college issues, are informed about helpful resources for students, and understand what you are going through.

Ease The Transition Process: To be truly successful in college, establish relationships with faculty. The intimidating nature of large classes often leads students to take a passive stance in their education. To get the academic help they need, students should make it a point to show up for office hours and to communicate with professors through e-mails and phone calls.

Be aware of your learning styles: The level of work is often more demanding than in high school: It is more self-directed, requires more studying and usually doesn't involve daily homework assignments. Many universities have tutoring centers in a variety of subjects or sponsor learning resource centers to help students succeed in college. Good time-management skills are also critical to the learning process.

Carefully choose your social participation: While joining clubs and organizations is a good way to make connections, students need to determine the kinds of relationships they really want. One reason why fraternities and sororities are so popular is because they provide an immediate social structure. Students often feel pressured to join clubs so they don't feel so isolated, but jumping too quickly in one direction can restrict you from other avenues that might be better. Students have to be more consumer oriented, explore the breadth of different groups and options that are available, and choose those that best meet their personal needs.

Keep contact with old friends: High school friends can be an excellent source of stability and support. Because they know you so well, they often can help you get back on track when things get rocky. It's easy to forget about old friends when they aren't next door, but the Internet makes it easier than ever to keep in contact.

Help parents accept the new you: Some parents are good about going with the flow and giving students room to experiment and grow, while others are afraid to let go. Try not to alienate your parents, but don't feel compelled to go to incredible lengths to please them. Strike a balance, and parents should be able to adjust.


    Tips to help the process along  

You didn't change overnight, so give your parents time to adjust to the new you.

In the beginning, accept a bit more structure when you go home. In time, as parents see that you have a handle on this new life, the structure can be relaxed.

Keep the lines of communication open. This doesn't mean that you should call every night, but keep in touch and let them know what is happening in your life.

If you have a problem, tell your parents. They have helped you through countless situations since you were born and only want the best for you. Most will try to help in any way they can.

Coming to college is part of the process of starting to find your way as an adult, which means becoming a serious, thinking human being, a person with ethical standards and a sense of true commitment to things.

The most important advice I can give is to think carefully about your choices. When you look back on your life, and you will, you will find yourself going back to those few choices you made that changed the path you took. Think before you choose, because the implications can be lasting.


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