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7 tips on how to transition from high school to college

Congratulations! You’ve finished your high school education and now it’s time to embark on a new journey: college.

This transition marks the beginning of newfound independence, endless possibilities, and incredible personal growth. In this blog, we will share seven tips to help you make a smooth transition, make the most of your college experience and set the foundation for a successful future.

So, take a deep breath, embrace the adventure ahead, and dive into these essential tips for a fulfilling college journey.

At Central Michigan University, your success is our goal. We even have a office dedicated to it! Check out the resources available through the Office of Student Success.

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1. Give yourself time to adjust to college life

It's completely normal to not have all the answers when you embark on your college journey, including knowing what you want to major in. Your freshman year especially is the time to explore your strengths, discover your passions and find what motivates you. Step out of your comfort zone by taking an elective course in a subject that interests you or join a student organization. The possibilities are endless when it comes to figuring out your path.

What if you've already chosen a major?

That's fine too! It’s common for graduating college students to have changed their major at least once. Academic advisors are available to provide guidance and ensure your credits align with your desired degree. At Central Michigan University, students have until their sophomore year to declare a major. There's plenty of time to explore and carefully consider your options.

2. Explore available campus resources

Maximize your college experience by discovering the abundant resources available on campus.  From libraries brimming with research materials to writing centers offering support for academic writing, campus resources are designed to assist and empower students. Career center services provide valuable guidance in navigating internships, job opportunities and professional development.

Health and wellness centers offer support systems for physical and mental well-being, while student organizations provide opportunities for pursuing interesting and making new friends. Resources, like CMU's OneCentral, are available to students who want to better understand financial matters such as financial aid, tuition costs, billing, scholarships and more.

3. Manage your time for academic success

The key to time management in college is creating a schedule that matches your natural rhythms and preferences. 

Are you naturally a morning person and find that your energy levels soar as the sun rises? Create a well-balanced morning schedule that wraps up classes by 3PM. Make the most of your afternoons for focused study sessions, clubs and student organizations, or head over to the dining hall for dinner and catching up with friends. 

Maybe you’re a night owl? You thrive in evening hours, enjoy the luxury of sleeping in and starting your mornings with self-care and fitness. You can opt for evening classes and late-night study sessions in the common areas. It’s important to create a schedule in a way that enhances your personal growth, fosters your well-being, and sets the stage for a fulfilling journey ahead.

4. Develop good study habits

When it comes to study habits, everyone has unique learning styles. Some thrive as persistent note takers, capturing every detail on paper. Others find that they absorb information more efficiently through active listening or hands-on activities. The key is to identify what works best for you. 

Experiment with different study environments around campus to find your perfect match. Are you someone who thrives in the vibrant energy of high-traffic areas like the bustling dining hall or a cozy coffee shop? Or do you require a serene and distraction-free space, where the library's quiet ambiance allows you to dive deep into your studies? At CMU’s Charles V. Park Library, you can even book a study room for individual, small group and large group studying. 

By exploring these options and understanding your preferences, you can create an ideal study environment that enhances your focus and maximizes your learning potential.

5. Prioritize self-care and mental health 

The high school to college transition is both a physical and emotional transition. To be your best self, it’s important to make time for activities that boosts mental health. At Central Michigan University, students have access to various resources that promote self-care.

For example, you can visit therapy dogs that are occasionally on campus and decompress in between classes. Take a walk by the Fabiano Botanical Gardens to enjoy florals and fauna from around the world. Swing by the University Art Gallery and appreciate art from emerging and established regional, national, and international artists. If you're looking for more active ways to practice self-care, the Student Activities Center (SAC) provides a variety of fitness options where students can engage in physical activities to improve their well-being.

Academic success and practicing self-care go hand-in-hand. By incorporating self-care practices into your college routine, such as engaging in relaxing activities and staying physically active, you can enhance your college experience and nurture a healthy lifestyle.

6. Embrace diversity and foster inclusivity 

Embracing diversity in college enriches our lives in countless ways. When you participate in diverse events on campus, you open up to a world of opportunities to experience new languages, diverse cuisines, vibrant music, and unique perspectives that differ from your own. These events provide a platform for meaningful interactions and cultural exchange, allowing you to broaden your horizons, challenge preconceptions and develop a deeper appreciation for human diversity.

By embracing diversity and engaging in DEI events, you actively contribute to a more inclusive and enriching college experience for yourself and the university community.

7. Remember it's ok to be homesick

It’s perfectly natural to be homesick when you are away from friends and family and familiar surroundings. It takes time to adjust to a new bed, new food and even living in a new city. The important thing is to recognize that you are still adjusting and give yourself extra grace those first few weeks.

Here are 5 quick tips for dealing with homesickness:

  1. Surround yourself with familiarity: Make your new dorm room feel like a home away from home by filling it with items that bring you comfort and a sense of familiarity. 
  2. Indulge in comforting foods: Treat yourself to some of your favorite comfort foods from back home. Enjoying familiar flavors can evoke feelings of warmth and provide a sense of comfort during moments of homesickness.
  3. Get into a routine: Establishing a routine can bring a comforting sense of structure and familiarity to your college life.
  4. Make new connections: College offers an incredible opportunity to meet new people and make lifelong friends.
  5. Stay connected with your loved ones: Despite being away from home, it's important to maintain regular communication with your family and friends. Sharing your experiences, updates, and emotions with loved ones can provide a comforting support system and remind you that you're still connected to the people who care about you most.
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