There are plenty of ideas getting thrown around when it comes to how to get ready for college. I have to warn you that most of these ideas are pretty useless.
Heading to college is a huge life transition. Anyone can understand the kind of fears you could be going through right now. Every high school graduate has doubts about their future. There are a lot of things to worry about.
- Should I go to college?
- What should I major in?
- Should I get a job?
- Should I be going for more financial aid?
- Am I ready?
In fact, you’ll usually be getting contradictory advice about your decision to get some of that good ol’ higher education everyone is recommending.
Your parents and teachers are probably telling you that you need to go to college or you’ll end up in a ditch somewhere doing unthinkable things to strange folks even if you just decide to take a year to think about college first. (Okay… maybe not quite that harsh but parents and teachers go pretty far with their horror stories.)
They’ll show you examples of idiots who didn’t go to college and stayed idiots. Then they’ll find some smart folks that went to college and were still smart. Then they’ll pretend that anecdotes somehow make a powerful argument.
You’re probably also hearing from college graduates that college didn’t work out for. Maybe they flunked out and got a job serving coffee with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. Again, they’ll give you more stories.
Heck… you probably even know some people that graduated and ended up getting jobs serving coffee with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
Yikes… Is now really the time to take a chance going to college?
Or would you be crazy not to go to college because doing strange things to strange men in a dark alley doesn’t sound all that fun?
(We all have our thing though.)
What’s the right decision!?
What does this have to do with getting ready for college?
Well… in my humble but boisterous opinion, a whole freaking lot.
The Two Main Reasons People Suck At College
1. They Didn’t Want To Go!
If you’re not motivated to get your college degree then there is a serious chance that you’re going to fail or give up in the process.
In high school, not being motivated doesn’t mean much.
The default action in high school is going. It takes a serious effort (and countless annoying conversations, from what I hear) to drop out. It’s significantly easier for a student to suck it up and go through the motions of high school. Most students don’t have to work too hard to graduate because, unfortunately, most of high school is just pushing students in and out the doors.
In college, the default action is not going. You need to sign up. You need to pay the bills and fill out the loan forms. You need to show up for class because no one is going to be driving a bus around to pick you up. Heck, if you don’t do your work, most teachers won’t even mention it and give you a guilt trip.
They just don’t care because you don’t. The default action is you not getting your degree.
If you’re thinking about going to college but aren’t sure what you want to do (or at least what you want to get out of it) then it will not help to add to the stakes by getting student loans into the situation. It will just add to your stress.
College can be an amazing investment if you use it right. It can also be a frivolous luxury. If you want college to be an investment then treat it as an investment.
(Naturally, if college is a frivolous luxury then treat it like a frivolous luxury. You don’t spend $50,000 on a new car when you still aren’t sure how you’re getting food on the table.)
There is a middle ground to those two extremes but most students reading this should be considering college an investment from a financial perspective.
If you’re not sure why you’re going to college then you are not ready for college.
What will keep you studying regularly? What will get you to finish the assignments you don’t want to do? What will get you to show up for class when your friends are planning on doing something fun? If you don’t know then you’re not ready.
The world doesn’t end if you take a year off. Or two. Or five. Believe it or not, in the grand scheme of your career the difference will end up being chump change.
Delaying reduces your risks dramatically when you’re uncertain. Not going to college isn’t deadly to your finances. Going to college and flunking or quitting with thousands in debt can be crippling.
2. Life Gets In The Way
I think this reason fits pretty intimately with the first reason.
Those that don’t know why they’re going to college fall into this trap faster.
Most students don’t fail college (or quit) because college is too tough for them.
Sure… in some degree programs and colleges it’s more common but those are the exceptions and not the rule.
I suspect the stories of students flunking because college is tough are kind of like bigfoot. Sure… failing classes is one thing but flunking out is a different situation. Occasionally, we might get a blurry picture but it’s probably someone just deceiving you.
Students tend to fail or quit because life gets in the way.
Imagine it’s a Sunday night in your college dorm. You have a big paper due the next day. Your friends barge in and tell you about some crazy fun thing they’re about to do (that may or may not involve your rival colleges mascot or someone seriously yummy looking.)
In high school, stuff like that rarely happens because everyone is living at home with their parents. The rare exceptions end up not having the option to bother most students because most students have parent’s getting in the way themselves.
What a student does in this situation is usually what decides their fate? Well… what a student does repeatedly in these situations decides their fate. Once isn’t bad. Every week is bad.
You can’t magically have everything you want.
If you go out with your friends when you probably shouldn’t be then your grade is almost guaranteed to suffer. Even if you actually wake up early or stay up late to finish your paper, you’re not going to do as well as you could have done.
Usually the decisions look a little less obvious:
- Do you keep playing the videogame or stop to study?
- Do you go to class late because you’re really hungry?
- Do you rush through your work to get it done so you can have more fun?
- Do you leave your date so you can work?
Sometimes the decisions look unrelated:
- Do you do your laundry or keep slacking?
That laundry time is going to have to come. You’ll either stink (making you hate going to class) or you’ll have to do laundry at another time. That time is often less convenient.
- Do you stay on schedule so you can eat before class?
It’s easy to delay things you really should do. It’s harder to delay things like class. Most students delay the “really should dos” and that ends up interrupting their class. (What if you don’t eat fast enough to get to class on time? How close are you going to push it? Are you going to get hungry if you skip the meal?)
- How can you manage your annoying(evil) roommate?
Anything in your personal life can interrupt your classes. What happens when they interrupt your chance to study? What happens when you can’t sleep when you need to? What happens…
I’ve made a ton of examples but the point is pretty simple: Stuff gets complicated.
How do you manage it?
Ideally, you should learn to manage as much of it as you can while you’re getting ready for college.
Getting Ready For College Is Getting Ready For Life
If you want to be prepared for college then be prepared for life.
Get on a schedule. Do everything that you’re going to need to do in college (or as much as you can practically do.)
If you need to go shopping while you’re at college then go shopping for your own stuff now. If you need to do laundry at college then do laundry now. If you need to prepare your own meals then prepare your own meals now. This is the least you should do to get ready for college.
When you arrive at college, it’s going to be challenging enough without having to get into good habits.
If you want to really go crazy with this then start studying something or get a job before college. The more you learn to manage now, the more prepared you’re going to be when college comes.
College is challenging enough without the added challenges of having to motivate yourself and learn how to manage grown up life. Prepare yourself now. By handling these two things you’ll put yourself miles ahead of the average student heading off to college.
By knowing you want to go and being prepared for the lifestyle changes you can make surviving freshman year of college easy.
What are you doing to prepare for college? Comment below!
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Aaron Richardson took his grades from fighting F’s to Easy A’s. In the process, he read over 300 books on personal development. Today he’s founded 2 blogs on studying including Smart Student Secrets. He’s written 3 books on the subject. His work has been featured on some of the biggest news, psychology, and student sites on the internet.
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