7 Tips to Prepare You for College

This article first appeared in the Hindu on March 19, 2022.

Turns out that getting into college is the easy part. The studying, the entrance exams, and the interviews were just the beginning. What lies ahead is a whole new journey with opportunities, challenges, and uncertainties. Of course, there is fun too. With college admissions beginning, here is a quick primer for life on the new campus. 

1. Do things on time: Waking up, submitting documents, finishing assignments, and turning up for class… each day has its own challenges and achievements. One way to get through is to do things on time. Letting work pile up has a domino effect and a building fear of the mountain you have to climb. This leads to greater procrastination and disaster scenarios. Remember, you won’t have a parent behind you or a helping hand.

2. Be prepared: Take charge of your time management — wake-up time, study time and fun time. Plan your studies daily and ensure you complete them. Set aside time for your daily chores: making the bed, kitchen work, etc. Also, make time to call your parent/grandparent. 

3. Manage relationships: Not just the romantic ones but also those with friends, batchmates, and hostel mates. Making a new set of friends takes time and those who have been in the same school for years may have forgotten the loneliness, uncertainty, and self-doubt that a new community can trigger. 

4. Reach out: Start while still in school. Reach out to people different from you. Look at old mates with new eyes, find out what makes them tick. Learn to talk to people you find boring or intimidating and teach yourself to appreciate those different from yourself. Nurture a hobby that can fill the gaps and build the habit of spending quality ‘me’ time.

5. Manage systems and authority: In college, you will be treated as an adult, invested in your learning and responsible for your administrative functioning. The challenge lies in approaching faculty/administration to sort out various issues. It is also important to connect with faculty outside of class hours to help them guide you better. Learn to balance the respect that you need to show them with the confidence you need to display. 

6. Take charge: Reach out to authority; address your teachers confidently in and outside class; engage in the important conversations with the office; explore and read faculty profiles so that you know whom you want to reach out to. 

7. Health and fitness: Build a regular regimen of diet and exercise. Then there is mental health, as college makes you vulnerable in a way you may have never been before. Learn to cook basic meals, build fruits, nuts and proteins into your everyday diet and find comfort food that does not harm your body. Learn to manage mental health by learning to recognise and opening up about issues you are dealing with to parents, friends, counsellors, or anyone who will listen. Talking about things and asking for help are basic self-management skills.

Above all, prepare for the greatest growing-up experience of your life. While you may hit several bumpy patches, remember that this road leads to your dream.

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