Tips to Prepare for a Successful Transition from High School to US University: Part III
Time Management and Sleep Patterns:
Generally, high schools students can’t wait for college because they think it means freedom. Parents and teachers can’t tell them when to do their homework, they can go to bed when they want, do what they want, and hang out with whomever they want. This increase in choices and responsibilities is what can derail some freshman. College students must have the ability to organize and structure their time to prioritize their responsibilities.
Make the most of your time in college. If you are coming from a highly structured life before college, then you are most likely used to balancing your commitments. Take on your college life like a job. Get up every day and go to work. Set your schedule so that you “work” for a significant amount of time even if you don’t have class. If you are only in class 16 hours a week, this will create a habit of studying regularly and keep you on track and maybe even ahead! Think about having fun only after you have done your work.
In an article published in the June 2017 edition of USA Today College, “This simple sleep habit might be the secret to better sleep”, a Harvard study helps students to see the importance of a regular sleep pattern on grades.
Researchers followed 61 students for 30 days having them keep sleep diaries. Surprisingly, the study found that most students, even those with irregular sleep patterns, were getting about the same total hours of sleep, but it was those student who were keeping a regular sleep schedule who performed the best. The study found that irregular sleep patterns caused a delay in the release of a sleep hormone, melatonin and altered the body’s natural circadian clock. When students stay up late, melatonin is released later in the night, and the circadian clock is delayed, making their bodies feel like they are in a different time zone, a sort of “biological jet lag.” So for a student who has an 8 am class, their body may actually be responding as if it is only 5am!
You will get the most out of your college experience if you get involved with student life. Clubs and organizations provide opportunities for students to meet new people, explore their passions, and try out new interests and activities. Clubs can also be very good source to build resumes. While the academic major has the most significant influence on an employer's decision to hire one candidate over another, a 2016 Job Survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers also reported that leadership roles, participation in extracurricular activities, and a high GPA are key factors in making hiring decisions.
A lot of time and energy was spent getting accepted to the right US college or university, but some students and parents can neglect the preparation required to be successful once you get to college. Most people think that because students have done well and graduated from a prestigious “college preparatory” high school, they will be prepared for the challenges ahead. Success at college is only partially related to academic success. There are other factors that can provide challenges for students. This involves learning skills that take time to develop. It is important that students learn one such skill: to speak up.
Communication skills are key to seeking out professors that can help students solve issues and provide resources. Good communication skills are also helpful in resolving conflicts with roommates and negotiating the multiple paths that are necessary for students to live successfully together. At a university, parents cannot call and speak to a teacher about an issue with their child. It is important that students start to learn the skills necessary to advocate for themselves before they get to university. First, students need to learn when to ask for help, and how to approach their professors. Approaching a college professor or seeking additional resources can be intimidating, but keep in mind that most professors and staff want students to be successful, and are there to help. Professors schedule office hours for the sole purpose of meeting with students — take advantage of that time. Get to know your academic advisor. This is the person who will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling of classes for future semesters, and deciding on majors and minors. This person is a key resource for you — and should be the individual you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts. Don’t be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don’t click with the one first assigned to you.
Keep in mind that the best thing about entering your freshman year of college is that even though you may feel alone, nearly everyone else feels the exact same way! Best of luck for a successful transition from high school to university.