A Letter To Recent High School Graduates: Tips To Support A Smooth Transition To College

Hello hello!

Congratulations on finishing high school! Graduation can be bittersweet, and you’ve worked hard to reach this milestone, so take some time to celebrate. As you head into summer, it’s important to take care of a few tasks to prepare yourself for your next chapter.

We want to share five tips to help you set yourself up for a smooth transition. For those who are headed to college later this year, here are some ways to support yourself in the coming months.

     1. Check email regularly.

Build a practice of checking your email regularly (once a day at a minimum). If you are heading to college later in the year, emails hold key information.  This can include how to log into your new school portal, apply for housing, and register for fall classes. If you use a mail app on your smartphone, consider adding your new school email address to help you keep track of communications while you’re on the go. Some schools may require you to take a diagnostic exam for math and/or any foreign languages—make sure to catch those deadlines!

    2. Look into summer transition programs.

 Summer bridge or adventure programs can potentially help you get a head start on your time on campus at your school. They may send this information by email (see tip #1), but you can also search your school’s website to see what programs are available. Some programs are geared toward particular demographics (e.g., low-income, first-generation, or affinity group), others are academically oriented (e.g., focused on STEM backgrounds), and others are community focused (e.g., backpacking or hiking trips). For example, the California State University (CSU) system offers a Summer Bridge program through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) for low-income, first-generation, and historically disadvantaged students. Stanford University offers Pre-Orientation Trips (SPOT) for any incoming first-year students to provide them with an immersive outdoor experience before they arrive on campus. These are great ways to get acclimated to the school culture and to start finding a community of peers with whom you’ll be sharing the next few years.

   3. Start getting in the habit of using a calendar. 

Your calendar can become one of your greatest assets as you transition to college. Start getting in the habit of using a calendar this summer for your commitments (e.g., an internship, a job, and appointments) and get into the habit of blocking out

times. That way, when you start finalizing your class schedule, you can begin adding your class times, study blocks, and other extracurricular engagements to your calendar.

  4. Identify academic and mental health resources on campus.

We all need help in some aspect of our lives.  It’s important to identify the systems of support that are available to you, especially as you’ll be in a new environment and more independent. Spend some time on your school’s website to research what academic support you can take advantage of and what resources are available for mental health. For example, every university has a Writing Center with tutors who can help you with any stage of the writing process. Williams College, for example, has a webpage that’s dedicated to how to make an appointment with the Writing Center. Scheduling will vary by school, so it’s a good idea to begin familiarizing yourself with this process. Tip: During midterms and finals, these appointments may fill up quickly, so try to book ahead as much as you can.

  5. Look for community on campus.

College is a great time to explore your interests and to keep an open mind. Your school may have a social media page or mixers throughout the summer for admitted students where you can begin to meet your peers. If you played sports or were involved in Debate, there may be opportunities for you to continue engaging in these activities at varying levels of commitment. For example, the University of Colorado Boulder offers an extensive list of more than 450 clubs and organizations that students can join. Review the clubs and programs at your school to see what may interest you. Some may allow you to sign up online, and others may have in-person sign-ups. Keep an eye out for an Activities Fair, which will likely be held early in the fall semester, where you can sign up.

Here’s to wonderful new beginnings!

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