We all know the high school students who wowed us with their genius. We thought they were the smartest people in the world, a fact confirmed when they were accepted into a school with a 10 percent admittance rate. But at every Ivy League and other prestigious school, there is a bottom. Despite probably having straight A’s (they were accepted into very difficult schools, after all), students fail out of these schools, or scrape by with C’s and a few B’s. Don’t be a student who starts at the top, but quickly falls to the bottom. Use the summer before college to get ready for the college challenges academically with these tips and ideas.
1. Take a college course.
If possible, enroll in a college course, online or in-person, at a local university or community college. You could even take a class at your new college. Taking a college class will prepare you for college-level thinking and writing and might even knock out a general education requirement. If you can’t take a college course, looking into extension courses offered at websites like Coursea, Udemy, or iTunesU.
2. Prep for your upcoming schedule.
Most colleges already have their fall 2017 course listing available. Plan your fall schedule and then take steps to prepare for the classes. College is a big transition, and often stressful, so the less you have to worry about understanding the material in your classes, the better. Look for syllabuses for the class on the department website, ask former students who take the class their ideas for studying or find common subjects covered in the class. If you are taking a math course, review your notes from the previous course and look into the common material in the new class. If you are taking a science course, familiarize yourself with common topics. For an English class, practice writing or maybe find the reading list and get a head start.
3. Learn or improve helpful college skills.
I struggled with studying and note taking in high school. Fortunately, high school was easy enough to get by. The same probably won’t hold true in college. If you are like me, take advantage of the summer and learn different studying skills and practice note taking. Figure out studying strategies work for you and apply note taking by watching a college lecture online, perhaps a lecture of an upcoming class.
4. Assess college rigor
College is harder than high school. We’ve heard it for years, but in what ways in college more difficult? Find out for yourself by looking up old prompts or exams or talking to current college students. If writing prompts look challenging, work on your ability to write these and organize thoughts. If the material of the tests is dense, try reading some books on your college subjects. Prepare yourself for what college rigor will look so it will not come as a shock when college starts. Helpful website include Course Hero, Koofer, and Course Ninja.
If nothing else, use the summer to read. Reading will keep your brain sharp and also prepare you a heavy reading load in college. Every genre has something different to offer, so try out many types of books. Some colleges have suggested summer reading lists or a book they have all freshmen read. See if your school offers this and pick a few books to read. You can also involve your other college-bound friends to make reading more fun and have some great discussions.
College is a huge adjustment on many fronts. Some will have to navigate a new city or state or even country. Most will have to make new friends, learn to live independently with little parent involvement and figure out how to become an adult. But at the heart of it, college is an academic institution where students take and pass classes in order to get a degree. We are all going to college in the hopes of obtaining a college degree, and without academic preparation, that will be a hard goal to accomplish. Make the transition to college easier by preparing academically this summer.
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