When I graduated high school, I was near the top of my graduating class. I had straight A’s, and yet I felt like school was easy. I was really excited to start college in the fall, but boy did I get a rude awakening: I wasn’t at all prepared for my time in college.
I thought I had done everything I could to be ready, and had even read some high school to college transition tips. I had gone to my orientation, met my roommate, and felt ready to go. I even got myself a new laptop to take notes on in class. I felt like I was ready to dominate my first semester at school.
Reality Hurts – I Wasn’t Prepared For College
But my first year at school really hurt. I felt lost. I was on academic probation my first semester (even though I didn’t fail any classes, I did get two C-‘s and a C+). I was struggling to keep up in my classes, and I wasn’t even enjoying college life because I felt like I couldn’t do anything in school to succeed. What happened in the gap from high school to college? Where did I go wrong? What was I doing different now compared to what I was doing then?
Figuring It Out
I’ve since realized that high school didn’t prepare me for college on a few fronts, and I’m glad the reality-check of my first year of school did. It has helped me to become a better person, especially upon graduation and in working in real life. By my second year, I had made some changes and really figured it out. It took time and it was hard, but here are some things I did to get me through:
- Time Management: For me, I had always been able to multitask and get things done. This just wasn’t working out during school (especially since I worked full time). As a result, I needed to put together a dedicated schedule for myself that set aside time for studying, and time for fun. And when the time came for studying, I made it a point to put myself in a distraction free environment so that I could focus (usually the library).
- Self-Realization: College was also great about helping me figure out what I was good at, and what I was bad at. Part of the reason for my failure was because I simply wasn’t as good as I thought I was when it came to computer science (my original major). I liked computers, and dominated my high school classes, but now, in a room full of people who excelled at computers, I really was in the bottom 10%. But I learned that wasn’t a bad thing. Instead, some of my other classes that I had to take helped me discover things that I enjoyed more, and was a lot better at – which ended up being business and economics. In hindsight, I’m glad I failed at first, because it helped me discover something better.
- The Power of Friends: Finally, I learned that it is so important to have friends and family that can support you. On more than one occasion there was a tear filled phone call home, but I’m glad I was able to do that, get the frustration off my chest, and move forward. That is what friends and family are for.
Did you struggle making the leap from high school to college? What helped you get through?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.