What You Need To Know Before Going To College

Learning the college admissions process. Determining the best way to study for tests. Figuring out how to get along with a roommate. These are all things high school students (hopefully) learn before heading off to college. But what about everything else? Those things that will make your college experience 10x better, but aren’t as common to talk about.

We recently asked Blueprint alumni what every high schooler needs to know about college. Here’s their advice:

10 Things Every High Schooler Needs to Know

1. Enjoy the college selection process

Now is not the time to go with the flow or get peer-pressured into attending a college you don’t love. Though you may be inclined to follow your best friend wherever they decide to go, it’s more important to choose exactly the right college for you. Choosing the right college now will save you four years or more of dissatisfaction, so be a savvy consumer! Do your research, visit your top choices and get a feel for life on campus with a pre-college summer program.

2. You should get a job

Yes, college is your job. But working while managing your college classes gives you valuable time management skills that future employers will notice. There’s no need to obsess over finding the “perfect” job – just do something that gets you out of the college bubble. You’ll make friends, learn how to manage your time and appreciate the value of a dollar.

3. Feeling freaked out is absolutely normal

It’s not just you: most freshmen are completely freaked out, too. The transition from high school to college is a huge one. It’s your first time on your own without the close friends you grew up with, usually in a new town or state. It can be scary! If you went to a pre-college program you’re ahead of the pack, but it’s absolutely normal to feel homesick and nervous. Try not to let it fluster you. These are growing pains and they will pass.

4. Going to your classes and doing your homework is essential to success

During college, your most important job is to stay on top of your classes. Attending classes is essential to making sure you have the skills necessary to master your major. Skipping classes is not cool – and will only hurt you in the end. So go to class, do your homework and stay on top of your responsibilities.

5. Join (at least) three clubs

Part of the fun of college is mixing and mingling with people you ordinarily wouldn’t meet. Stretch outside of your comfort zone and explore your interests by joining clubs. Joining clubs will give you a wider social network and a more well-rounded education. Plus, you’ll be able to discover new interests!

6. Career counseling is available

Colleges have a wealth of resources for jobs, career readiness and internships. Want to get a leg up in the post-college career search? Take a visit to your college’s career center and get to know a counselor. Counselors will help you find a job or internship: now, during the summers and after graduation. You’re paying for this valuable resource, so use it!

7. You must study abroad

There’s nothing better for expanding your worldview than traveling – and studying – abroad. The process will change you for the better. You’ll make friends in another country, develop (or refine) your language skills and learn valuable cultural lessons. We could go on and on about the benefits of studying abroad, but we hope you’ll go find out for yourself!

8. Become an International Buddy

We understand that studying abroad isn’t an option for every student. But did you know that your school also has international students coming to your campus each semester? Learn more about other cultures by becoming an unofficial ambassador to the international students on campus. You’ll have the opportunity to make friends from all over the world without ever leaving campus!

9. Meet your profs!

One of the biggest differences between high school and college is in the teacher-student relationship. Professors won’t remind you to finish your homework or to hand in that essay or to study for the exam. You are responsible for your own college experience – and that includes handling your own responsibilities and having a good relationship with your college professors. Introduce yourself early in the semester and remember: professors are people, too! You may discover you really enjoy a certain professor’s teaching style and have the opportunity to study with them again in another course.

10. Learn to manage your money

Many students have to go into debt to pay for college, but college is a great time to learn the basics of managing your own money. Be frugal. Save as much as possible. Spend less than you make. In other words, don’t get a credit card to buy the PS4 unless it’s coming from your job money.

These are Blueprint’s top ten tips for high schoolers preparing for college. We hope you’ve enjoyed them – and that these tips will help you ease the transition from high school to college.

A special thanks to all the Alumni who took the time to drop in and share their thoughts. We appreciate the insights!