Before Starting College

Friday, January 13, 2023
Sabrina Young

by Sabrina Young

CGCC Student and Peer Success Coach

College life is something many people either think they know a lot about, or that they have no clue about. I’ll be honest, I went to college straight from high school and had zero idea of what to expect before starting… and zero idea of what was happening after I started. So I did what any reasonable person would, sit there very confused and desperately hope that things would work out. And they did! But that was for me, an English major, so the bar wasn’t as high as say, medicine. So what can someone coming from high school with a harder major or less luck do to prepare? They can read this awesome blog post that’s actually written by a college student, or they can go read some other blog that’s definitely lame and probably written by someone who graduated college 5+ years ago. I think I made my point. Here are the differences between high school and college that I wish I knew before starting:

You make your own schedule - I knew I had to sign up for classes, but I never knew how many choices were involved until I did it. Students can choose the professor, the type of class (online, in-person, etc.), and what day and time it is. In other words, I could make it so I never have to go to campus or solidify Monday as the worst day by doing all of my classes then. I found that I prefer online courses, and I try to take all my in-person classes on the same day.

College is completely self-motivated - Is it a good idea to stay up all night gaming and then go to an 8am Spanish class fueled by caffeine and a vendetta against the world? It probably isn’t recommended, but you can! I have. In college, it’s on you to get to class, do the work, and study – even after an all-nighter. Just be aware that whatever you choose to do determines whether you pass or fail. Speaking of...

Failing and retaking courses costs money - This is a very important one. Public high schools let you retake classes you failed for free the next year. Sadly, college expects us to be responsible adults, so you have to pay for the class you failed and pay to take it again if you don’t put in the work.

Lastly, there’s more freedom - There are still rules, but there is much more freedom than in high school. Some examples from courses I’ve taken are that my writing can be super dark and gritty with no consequences, I can step out to take a phone call or go to the bathroom whenever I need (no, you don’t have to ask), and I choose what takes priority for me. I could go to class, not go, bring a whole rotisserie chicken, or hire a mariachi band to come play on campus to lighten my mood – the possibilities are endless! Maybe don’t hire a mariachi band though, we’re college students, we can’t afford that.

There’s a lot to get used to transitioning from high school to college, but I know that you’ve got this!

Sabrina and friends