Q: “What should I be thinking about as I go off to college, away from home for the first time.?”-Cortlandt Student
A: Thanks for your question.
First of all, congratulations on embarking on a journey that will inevitably change you for the better. Expect to grow in a multitude of unpredictable ways. Expect to meet new people, some who may become your lifelong friends, some who will teach you to think in new ways, some who will undoubtedly help you to figure out your path in life.
Leaving home and heading off to college is often a time filled with many different emotions for all parties involved.
It’s perfectly normal to at one moment feel scared to leave the security and familiarity of friends and family, and shortly afterwards feel completely excited and ready to skip the summer and start college now.
It’s also normal for moms and dads and siblings to feel these ways too, along with other emotions like pride, happiness, and anxiety.
The important thing is to enjoy the rest of the summer and begin college with a sense of energy and enthusiasm. Keep an open mind about who to socialize with and be sure to get off on the right foot academically. This means prioritizing your school work and learning to keep up with class readings and assignments.
Many students struggle with the freedom immediately obtained in college by not focusing on their studies enough. The structure of classes and assignments offered in high school can vary greatly from the way your schedule may unfold in college. You may end up with three classes on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and none the rest of the week. Some professors may only give a couple of exams throughout the entire semester. Therefore, you will need to manage your time well.
Try hard not to procrastinate and seek academic or other support as soon as possible if you sense a problem in a class or elsewhere.
If you are unsure about how much reading or work to do to keep up in a specific class, ask your professor or advisor for input.
I see many students unwilling or afraid to seek those on the college campus who can help provide the necessary support to be successful academically and/or emotionally.
While most students figure out the work/play balance appropriately and early on in their studies, some may struggle and should seek help immediately. Most colleges offer tutoring and counseling services so take advantage of the available expertise that can help you complete your studies and earn your degree.
While your time in college will provide lots of opportunities for fun, certainly enjoy yourself but be wise in your choices and be sure to always remember why you are spending a tremendous amount of time, money and energy-to grow academically and emotionally and ultimately discover the next phase of your life whether it be graduate school or employment.
College Corner presented by Mitchell Lipton, Mitchell Lipton serves as Dean of Admissions and Records and Registrar at Cooper Union. Mitchell actively presents at local and national conferences and consults on a number of educational endeavors. He holds an elected position with the College Board and serves on the Advisory Board of Private Colleges and Universities. Mitchell served as Vice President of the New York State Association for College Admissions Counseling, Steering Committee member for The New York State Legislative Forum, and member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling New York City College Fair Committee. He lives in Cortlandt Manor with his wife and two children. Mitchell may be reached at [email protected]