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Tips for Transitioning to College

Making the move from high school to college can be exciting yet terrifying. For many students, this transition means moving to a completely foreign campus with new people, new customs and new challenges. 

It can be uncomfortable. However, there are ways to make this transition just a bit smoother.

I moved into MCLA in September of this year. I came with a healthy mix of fear and open mindedness. I went in with very few expectations. I was met with new, unanticipated challenges at every corner. In order to make it easier, though, I formulated several tips to help myself become more self-reliant. Here are just a few ways I believe incoming students can help themselves ease into college life:

1. Ask questions.

A natural part of being a first-time college student is being clueless. Don’t feel embarrassed about this. When I first arrived at MCLA, I had hundreds of questions. I didn’t know where to do laundry, when to buy books, who my advisor was, how to find buildings…the list grew and grew during the first few weeks. 

The only way to get these questions answered was to ask. Being vocal about what you don’t know is an essential part of becoming independent. 

In order to ask questions, though, you need to know who you can go to. Some people you can go to for (most of) your questions are:

  • Your faculty adviser
  • Your resident adviser
  • Your professors
  • Your friends
  • Your older/more experienced classmates
  • Your family

Even if these people can’t answer your question, chances are they can direct you to someone who can. 

2.  Get to know your resources.

As college students, we have an exceptional amount of resources at our fingertips. Chances are, if you need help with something, there is a department on campus to help you with it. It becomes easier to transition into college once you realize this.

As a college student, you have access to tutoring, career and internship services, a library full of scholarly writing, and more. Your college’s website can most likely clue you in on all these resources. As a freshman, you may not see a need for all of them, but they will come in handy during the next four years at your new home.

3. Form relationships.

Getting to know your professors and fellow students can help you in a multitude of ways. For one, it plays a major role in making your college feel like a home. In the days leading up to move-in day, I was most anxious about friendships. I cried to my brother and said I was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends at college. I thought I would spend a semester or two completely alone, wandering around campus by myself. However, the reality I encountered was the opposite of what I expected. I found friends almost immediately—my roommate and other freshman in my dorm building—and met amazing professors.   

Bonding with your professors is just as important as finding friends at school. Professors can give you both academic and personal support. They can help you during low points in your academics when you have no one else to turn to. Not to mention, there is no better feeling than seeing a familiar professor’s face around campus to brighten your day. Relationships with the people you meet at college can benefit you for years to come.

4. Say “yes.”

College is an open sandbox of opportunity. There are always exciting new classes, clubs, and events to try out. In order to make your first years of college enriching, I believe it’s important to practice saying yes to what life presents you. This is something I practice often and benefit from. 

For instance, I went out on a limb when applying to be a Her Campus writer. I saw a flyer for it MCLA’s Facebook page, decided to go for it, and now I have this opportunity to share my voice online. I am now part of a delightful club which I feel completely attached to. All it took was the guts to say ‘yes’ to this opportunity college threw at me.

Opportunities like this are all over the place. I would encourage all first-time college students to come in with an open mind, a willingness to say yes, and nothing but optimism for the future. Transitioning to college is awkward at times, but once you overcome that transition period, your capacity for success will be totally limitless.


Tessa is an English Literature and Elementary Education major currently in her junior year. She is a staff writer and senior editor for Her Campus MCLA.
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