If college is the gateway to the real world, then high school is the long highway that precedes it. After four years of high school, you might feel as though you are totally unprepared for the challenges of higher education. Although pumped-up academic standards are a big part of the college transition, being a college student also calls for independence, maturity, and responsibility.
Aside from academics, high school prepares students for the challenges of college life in several ways. Here are five ways that high school prepares students for college life, and how to use those skills to your advantage on campus.
Enrolling in challenging high school courses can help take the edge off tricky college semesters.
According to the Harvard Admissions team, a high school education should not only prepare students for rigorous college courses, but also encourage them to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.”
It’s true that honors, AP, and IB courses are created in the image of college classes. Obviously, taking AP Chemistry in high school can help strengthen your chemistry skills so that general chemistry will come much easier to you in college. You may even be able to bypass a few chemistry classes in college if you school’s administration accepts AP credit.
However, the truth is that there’s much more to college than just academics. Strengthening your mind can positively impact your social life, help you find internships, and join the clubs you’re interested in.
Developing good relationships with instructors will help you stand out in a college lecture hall.
Most high schools boast a manageable classroom size of about 30 students. For many of the introductory level classes you will find yourself taking freshman year, this will not be the case. University lecture halls can seat hundreds of students, and it can be difficult to develop a good relationship with your professors in a crowd that large.
Forging relationships with your high school teachers is good practice for your college years, when talking with your professors and attending their office hours can make or break your grade. Additionally, teacher recommendations are just as important in college as they are in high school. Every class you take is a networking opportunity, so make sure you present your best self to your teacher. It’ll pay off when you start applying for grad school, internships, and even full-time jobs!
Peer relationships are important in both high school and college—so make friends!
Group work in high school is challenging, and it’s only going to get harder in college. Although you may feel like your people skills are serving you well in your high school classes and leadership positions, many newly-minted college students find that group assignments can be difficult.
Remember: college professors expect their students to really step up their game and mimic the synergy and productivity of an efficient workplace during group projects. Use the time you have in college to fully develop the communication skills you picked up in high school. Your grades, which often rely on weighty group projects, will thank you.
Involvement in extracurriculars helps you balance a busy schedule, which can help with time-management in college.
In high school, all classes occur during the same 7 AM-4 PM block of the day, with little space in between, and seldom do they meet for longer than an hour. College classes meet for longer periods and on fewer days of the week, meaning many extracurricular activities in colleges wedge themselves in between hours loaded with coursework and studying. For example, many college clubs meet as late as 10 PM!
Balancing a challenging course load in high school with extracurricular activities is an introduction to the type of busy schedule you’ll have in college. Exercising time-management skills now will help you adjust when it comes time to figure out the best class and extracurricular schedule in college. By learning your limits early and how to manage your schedule, you’ll have a less stressful college experience.
Classroom instruction prepares you for many different types of teachers and testing schedules.
The classroom environment in college is vastly different than what it is in college. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two from your high school courses in order to prepare for a college course.
In college, you’ll have a variety of class atmospheres, instructors, and testing styles. Some classes are large with just one final, while others are very small with multiple tests leading up to a course final. High school classes prepare you for this by implementing a variety of teaching and testing styles in order to mimic the different exam schedules you may face in college.
Pop quizzes train you to study regularly so that you’re prepared should a quiz come up – and they will in college. High school midterms and finals help students learn how to study cumulative information in a course, and recall it on one, large test. So next time you complain about a paper or in-class test coming up, remember that it’s just preparing you for what’s to come on a college campus.
Although not every aspect of your high school experience will have a direct impact on your college transition, that doesn’t mean your years spent in high school are meaningless. High school is an important time of personal and academic growth, so focus on experiencing life as a high school student first. If you’re feeling particularly impatient, wait it out—college is just around the corner.