The transition from high school to college

Melissa Oribhabor

What incoming freshmen can do to prepare themselves for college

Each semester, UMKC welcomes thousands of new freshmen embarking on the exciting, and often terrifying, experience of going to college for the first time. This can be scary and overwhelming to many. The transition from high school to college is often not an easy road, but there are steps new students can take to make the shift easier.

One of the first things a student can do is attend an orientation program. These are held for transfer and freshman students a few times throughout the summer and will help them get familiar with the campus and start the process of getting comfortable with their programs.

But once classes start, it is important students understand they are not in not high school anymore.

“[College is] actually is a little more challenging [than high school],” said Nancy Wilkinson, Director of Student Services at the Bloch School. “Students often find that maybe all they had to do in high school was go to class and pay attention and that served them well. [However], when they get here in college, and they actually have to do more work independently outside of class to be prepared to come in and discuss and then do homework. They’re sometimes really caught off guard by that.”

Wilkinson said more responsibility falls on the student in college. If a student needs help with a class, he or she needs to take the initiative to make an appointment with an adviser or a professor.

This is especially true when it comes to large lecture hall classes. With 200 other students in the class, a teacher won’t know all the students as well as a high school teacher or a teacher with only 15 or 20 students in a class might. Students should not be afraid to ask for help; professors are willing to set up a time to meet and all professors have office hours.

Additionally, study habits are a bit different in college. Wilkinson suggests students should study two to three hours per week per credit hour they’re enrolled in. That means, for a student taking 15 credit hours, they should study 30 to 45 hours a week. That is a full-time job.

But coming to college is not just a change for students; parents also have to make adjustments when they have a child in college.

“One of the challenges that we have is that the rules are different between high school and college and sometimes parents don’t understand that they can’t call us up and ask questions about their son or daughter’s situation unless the son or daughter has signed the release,” Wilkinson said. “We can usually only provide the most general information to a parent and parents are often frustrated by that and it’s not because we don’t want to help, it’s because we legally can’t provide detailed information unless the student has given approval.”

College is not only a time to absorb what is being taught in the classroom, but it is also a time to develop interpersonal skills and learn how to get along with different types of people. This is when many people who were introverted in high school come out of their shells. No matter how nervous new students can feel, it’s important to remember most incoming freshmen feel the same way. Luckily, this campus has many opportunities for students who are looking for a place to belong.

“I would just encourage students to enjoy the time here and meet new people,” Wilkinson said. “Don’t be afraid to go up and introduce yourself. [Students should] get involved in a student organization, that’s a great way to get to meet other people and to help feel more part of the campus.”

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