You're Not In High School Anymore
You're Not In High School Anymore
Harlan Cohen (Author) gives expert video advice on: How much of a change is college from high school?; Is it hard to transition from high school to college?; What can I expect when I first get to college? and more...
How much of a change is college from high school?
College is probably the most dramatic transition in a teenager's life. I would say probably the second most dramatic, other than birth, and we don't really remember birth that much. I don't remember mine. Some people say they do, and I think they're lying because who could remember that. But college is the greatest transition. There's so many firsts for so many people who are leaving home, first time living with a stranger, first time dealing with new professors, first time dealing with your emotions without having the support system around you. That's not only true of people who are leaving for school, but people who are commuting or going to school just down the street. So there are all these firsts, and really for the first time you have to be the one to help yourself to work through these issues. There are all these different emotions. There are all these new dynamics with your environment. So there's a lot going on, and when you're uncomfortable, and it's naturally uncomfortable to deal with so many changes, it can be difficult to get through things that seem really simple. College, I'd say it's a huge change, and it's cool. It should be a big change.
Is it hard to transition from high school to college?
I have never been one that is great with transitions. I know that when I went from junior high to high school, I end up gaining about fifty pounds. The Little Debbie snack cake tables is what got me. My first real relationship was Little Debbie. Transitions are really difficult. I am lucky enough to know they were difficult for me. The thing is that when I was in school, and I was having such a difficult first year experience, I didn't realize that it could be a tough transition. So, to know that it can be a difficult transition, and for students who can look and say, oh why have I had a tough time transitioning, and what will be the results of these transitions. Answering these questions just makes it easier in dealing with this big transition. You can address those things before they become problems, and get out of control. So college is a huge transition. And, just understanding that it's big, not fighting and that it's a tough transition makes it easier to transition.
What can I expect when I first get to college?
Expect the unexpected. That's what you need to expect. A lot of students go to college thinking that it's going to be this amazing experience, that they're going to find new friends, that they are going to be hooking up every day. It's going to be this amazing party and they are going to be able to get straight A's. They are going to be at the top of a pyramid, like a cheerleader pyramid, just partying. Sometimes that can happen, but a lot of times it's not always that experience. Expect the unexpected, because if you have too rigid expectations, when the unexpected pops it's head up, it's going to snap you. If you are expecting the unexpected, then you'll be okay. I would say that college is 90% amazing and 10% difficult. Expect that 10% to pop up, and it won't throw you.
If I was a good high school student can I expect be to a good college student?
Good high school students, at least academically, can expect to do well but they should expect to do work. A lot of times you go to a competitive school and let's say you're at the top of your class. You are surrounded by people who were at the top of their class. And let's say you have a little bit too much fun or maybe you're staying up too late or you're not doing your work. It becomes really easy to be a straight C student or to become a D student or to get an F. I was doing an event the other day and this straight A student said that she got an F, and it was awesome to see that a straight A student could get an F. It was geared towards students who are going away to school, but it can happen, so the advice is to get help before you get in trouble and if it does happen, don't be embarrassed. Don't think "Oh, I'm such an idiot." Just think, "I've got to get it together before I end up with a 1.0", because then it's a lot harder to get yourself out of that hole.
If I was popular in high school am I guaranteed to make friends easily in college?
I was popular in High School, now, at least my senior year. I wasn't my freshman year, now people-I always say if someone tells you they're popular like freshman year, that's a sign that they're not popular. You should never have to tell some you're popular because it's like you're trying to be. It's like being funny-either you're funny or you're not. People say they laugh if you're funny. So you are who you are. The thing is if you're popular sometimes-you'll get to school, you'll be uncomfortable, you'll be living in your situation, it will be just be what you didn't expect and you might not be someone who has as many friends. So if you're someone who's popular you might not be. But that's OK because you can be. What I always say is don't forget who you are. And the thing is if you're someone who's not popular, you can be popular or you can have friends and, again, it's not forgetting who you are. And if you want to be something else, it's taking small steps along the way to become who it is you want to be. So if you're someone who gets to school and you're not popular, it's remembering what you did in high school. If you're someone who has never been popular, it's thinking about what you want to do and what you want to become and then taking those steps once you get to School. And then you can be whatever you want to be.
What if I don't adjust to college life right away?
There are a few students who get to college and totally adjust, and they're like, "Oh yeah, man, this is my world. I feel like I've been here forever." It takes a while to adjust. There are students who are in long distance relationships and they get there and they get lonely. And they're like "I want to be with my boyfriend or girlfriend. This college sucks." Or maybe they won't get into a fraternity or sorority if they want to go Greek. Or maybe they won't get along with the people on their floor. Someone from a very urban area, going to a campus in a rural community, living on a floor where there are all people from a rural community. So the thing is, it takes time. It's normal for it to take months. It's normal for it to take years. So I always say give it at least a year and don't run. And if you know that these things are normal when you encounter them, it's like "All right. This is just part of it and what am I going to do to find my place here at school." Because if you don't have a place, you'll feel out of place and that's when you'll want to go to that only comfortable place you know. So you have to really work to find your place, which can be challenging.
What if I'm not adjusting right away and my friends at other schools are?
Each person's college experience is really a unique experience, and you might be having the most miserable time of your life and your friends are having the best time ever. But your friends, maybe they went to a state school where they know 15 people, or they're living down the hall from a best friend and you've gone to a place where you don't know people. Or maybe you're at a place where you know people and it's like "Oh, this is totally like high school." So you can't compare your experience to someone else's because your experience is really unique to you, and everybody adjusts at a different pace. So it's understanding that your experience is yours and really embracing that and really focusing on that because your friends, you might talk to them in six months and they'll be having a miserable time once they sober up and realize they've got like a D average, when you are just finding real friends that are going to last a lifetime and you're getting an A. So don't compare your transition to anybody else's.
What steps can I take to speed up the adjustment process?
I would say, know that it might "suck" at times. You know, I say that if college is not difficult, that it's not cold, that it's not lonely, that it's not depressing a little bit of the time - then you're either too drunk, or too high, or in a state of denial. So if you know that these things are coming your way, and if you map out your path, I'm not saying you should actually take a map with you - although you could but you'd look like such a freshman with the map, but mentally be like, where am I going to find friends? Where are some organizations, some clubs, some things I loved doing in high school, where can I do them in college? Is there an intramural sport that I want to play? Things that are going to help you find your place and transition because it takes time. So if you do that and you're patient, if you lead with a map, and if you can expect the unexpected, then eventually, that's going to be a great world for you.
What can I do if I feel lost when I first get to college?
You need to ask for help. You need to ask for directions when you're lost. As a freshman on campus, you're like, "I don't want to ask for help, I look like an idiot." You roam around campus for 4 hours and you're brilliant? You should ask for help. If there's anything that's on your mind, you should ask for help. College is amazing, because you're surrounded by so many people who know how to direct you to the answers, to the people, and to the places. When you're lost, don't hide, don't retreat back to those things that are comfortable at home. Ask for directions.
What is 'The Fifth Wall' of technology?
The fifth wall of technology can be defined as the internet, cell phones, instant messaging, chat, facebook, myspace - anything that involves technology and gaming. Gaming is huge and while you have your four walls in your room there is a fifth wall, and this fifth wall is something that you can get caught behind really easily. Because it is difficult, it is uncomfortable and you want to retreat to those things that are comfortable. So people use cell phones, instant messaging and all these technologies.
How connected should I be with my parents?
It really varies. Some students are use to talking to their parents once a day or three times a day or maybe five or six times a day and there are some parents who are cool. with that they're like yeah man my kid loves me and I love being here for my kid because for the past 18 years I've been that rock and they want to be that rock. But I think it's really important for a student to help their parents to understand that I need to solve my problems because there are to many parents the helicopter parent who want to solve the student's problems. And if your parents are one of those problems or want to solve your problems it's really important that you say hey you know I need to be able to do this myself. And for the parents who are listening to this it's really important for them to ask their student what are you going to do to deal with these issues. I'm really empowering them to take control and they could point them to the right directions to the people in resources on campus, but I think it's really important that student to figure out how to deal with the tough stuff because that's really what college is about in so many ways.
Is it normal to get homesick the first year of college?
Homesickness is like diarrhoea I would say. I mean when you're eating new food you're going to get diarrhoea at least once in a while, and most students get homesick. Over two thirds of students get homesick. Actually, according to the 2006 statistics from the Higher Education Research Institute, over 60% are feeling homesickness. Which is interesting, because in the previous statistics from, I think, 2004 about 40 some percent were talking about how they were feeling homesick. So, two thirds of students feel homesick, so when you're homesick it's not like "Oh my god, I can't believe I'm homesick, this is so embarrassing", it's like "Yes! I' am homesick, this is normal!"
What can I do to battle homesickness?
So when you are home sick, the first thing you need to recognize is ," Yes. I'm home sick". But the other thing you need to think about now is "how can I medicate myself?" Now, there are some students who drink their home sickness away, drug their home sickness away, sucks their home sickness away, internet their home sickness away, message their home sickness away, or cell phone their home sickness away. But I say, you need to medicate in moderation and so if you missed those things at home, go home. Maybe, a month into the semester or just for a couple of days or at the weekend. Don't go home every week-end as that's over medicating yourself. You need to recognize that's not you anymore. You need to do some things to help get yourself over that home sickness, and to really get refueled so that you can come back and get out of that uncomfortable and unnaturally uncomfortable change. So medicated moderation recognizes it's not any more and then follow that map, that plan. Of how you're going to find your place and make your new home, a real home; a home that will eventually make you sick to leave once you maybe graduate, I don't know, six – seven years?