5 ways to improve students’ academic transition into college

Last Updated 30 April, 2015

by Jake Alger

As university life draws closer, most incoming freshmen experience a bundle of emotions―elation, apprehension and everything in between.

It’s natural to fear the unknown―especially when it comes to academics. The mere thought of a crowded lecture hall or subjectively graded midterm paper can send chills up and down the spine. Cold sweats, too.

A bit of worry is understandable, especially when you compare high school studies to the rigorous expectations in college classrooms. Only 39.5 percent of freshmen studied at least six hours a week in high school, according to a UCLA survey.

Here are 5 ways to improve students’ academic transition into college:

1. Expect and understand differences
Students shouldn’t fear university classes, but a healthy realization of the differences between high school and college can be important.

Freshmen should recognize the adjustments they must make. Classrooms and rosters are bigger. Instructors won’t necessarily remind you when assignments are due. Efficient reading and note-taking is vital. Also, “A” grades are tougher to get and less important than ever.

The sooner students understand these facts, the faster they’ll flourish.

2. Get busy preventing stress
One thing that hinders academic success in college is worrying about academic success in college. Stress often prevents progress but also, for many, is a common factor in the college experience.

Students can help control stress―and bolster wellness and health―with simple activities such as exercising, listening to “chill” music and choosing healthful snacks.

3. Go to sleep
Without parents around, living on campus can turn the most studious of former high school valedictorians into sleep-deprived, YouTube-obsessed underachievers.

One study reported 40 percent of students feel well-rested only two days per week. It’s a troubling trend because sleep problems can harm grade-point averages, academic performance and overall learning.

4. Create a schedule that works for you
Many college newcomers create their class schedule based on either the conditions they were accustomed to in high school or the college life they’ve observed in movies. Neither way works.

Use your knowledge of when and how you learn at your absolute peak to craft a schedule that reflects those factors. For example, if you’re a “morning person,” schedule plenty of early classes, which will allow you to carve out consistent study times later in the day.

Also, don’t let pride dictate your workload. Learn at a pace that fits your unique circumstances.

5. Be confident enough to ask for help
Sometimes it’s admitting you need help that takes the most guts. When a student is struggling or simply wants support getting off on the right foot, tools such as the Center for Academic Success & Advising (CASA) at NNU often prove valuable. The people at CASA love to help!

From on-campus advisers and tutors to parents and online resources, students have several sources of support at their disposal. Using all available aid to prepare for academic success at college is the best way to ensure more peace of mind and fewer cold sweats.