The number of high school students moving on to study in college is increasing dramatically.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total undergraduate enrollment increased 28% from 2000 to 2016. From 13.2 million to 16.9 million students.

And it’s totally understandable. College is the next natural step for high school students. For many careers and high paying jobs, having a college degree is essential.

But higher education is about more than just getting a job. It is an opportunity for students to grow in many other areas of their lives professionally, personally and socially. New students enrolled in college will meet students, professors, TAs, etc. from all walks of life.

College will provide an opportunity for them to make the transition from kids living under their parent’s roof to an adult life of their own. So college truly is a time where new students will start preparing for nearly every aspect of their adult lives. 

There is a lot for new students to consider when they decide to apply to college, what colleges to apply to and then, once they choose a college, how to make the most of the opportunity (which can seem very overwhelming for new college students). It is a transitional part of life which can be very volatile. And a time when you’ll be exposed to many new people, ideas, places, etc.

So how do you go about getting started? Here is some advice for new college students to help them make the most of the opportunity.

Advice for New College Students

It All Begins in High School

Preparation for any new college student begins in high school.

Learning proper study habits, doing well in courses and getting a good GPA, choosing courses and activities that interest you, etc.

Then you’ve got to find a college that’s the best fit for you and your future. For example, if you think you want to be an engineer, you will want to choose a school that has a good architecture program that will prepare you for your future career.

Also, when you’re thinking about college, remember that SAT/ACT scores do count, though not as much as they used to. In fact, many schools are trending towards test optional for those applying. Even so, if you’re taking these tests, you want to be sure to put in the time to do some test prep work so you can get the highest score you possibly can.

Once you have all your scores, grades, activities, letters of recommendation, etc. in place, it’s time to apply to college!! 

Paying For College

Okay, so you applied and were accepted at college. Congratulations! Now what?

Well, one of the things to figure out is how to pay for college. You probably know this, but college ain’t cheap! The good news is there are a lot of options out there to help pick up the costs of college. There are grants, scholarships, private loans and other financial aid options available. For a more in depth look at some of these options, check out our section on the Types of Financial Aid

Seek Out Advice

Seek out advice and guidance from people you know who have gone to college. Maybe you have older siblings or close friends you could talk to. Or maybe your parents. Talk to them about what you can expect when you go to college. These people can be a great source of advice for new college students.

College isn’t going to be easy… nor should it be. But be sure to have fun while you’re there. Don’t make it all work and no play (or all play and no work!). It may take some time, but you can balance your schoolwork and extracurricular activities and still maintain a good GPA.

Keep An Open Mind

Being a new college student is challenging. But it’s also an incredibly opportunity you should make the most of. It will allow you to grow personally and develop the initial skills to help you in the professional world as well.

As a new college student, you have the unique opportunity to sustain growth in both a personal and professional manner.  Set your priorities, be willing to try new things and be open to new experiences. Also learn how to set and stick to goals and work towards reaching those goals with unwavering determination and commitment.

And, remember, you’re not alone. Take advantage of all the opportunities and resources you’ll have at your disposal. See your instructors and/or teaching assistants outside of normal class time to get their guidance and counseling. Work with your peers and classmates. And meet the challenges that will surely come your way head on. It’s great preparation for life out in the working world. 

More About Online Colleges

This article is part of our guide on how to be a successful online college student.

Check out the next topic in the series: Online College Scams To Look Out For

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