Ten Lessons to Learn Before College

The transition to college is exciting, but it can also be challenging and stressful. However, you can ensure your transition to college goes smoothly by learning certain skills in high school. These skills allow you to adjust to the big changes college brings and actually enjoy the transition. Without further ado, here are ten lessons you should learn before college. 

How to be Independent 

After years of living at home, college is perhaps the first time you get to be truly independent. It is exhilarating, but this independence brings certain responsibilities. For example, your new found independence means doing your own laundry. It will be tempting to ignore the less fun aspects of independence, but they are just a necessary. Practice being independent in high school, so when college rolls around, you won't be paralyzed by what is required of you. Learn how to spend time alone, and enjoy it. College is a busy time, and there may be times when you have a different schedule than your friends. Also practice those aforementioned laundry skills (your parents will thank you). If you learn how to be independent in little things now then college won't be as big of a change. 

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When to Admit You Need Help

At the same time, "no man is an island" to quote John Donne. Independence is great, but you have to realize that you can't do everything by yourself. Sometimes the work will pile up, and everything that could go wrong will go wrong. You will not be able to carry all this on your own. The Lord doesn't want us to try to lug all our "to do's" around to the point where we are exhausted and void of peace and joy. It's easy to to get wrapped up in a prideful and controlling mindset that won't admit the need for help. Learn early on that it's okay to ask for help, and your relationships, grades, and stress levels will be better during your college experience (and life). 


Know What You Believe In 

Even if you attend a Christian college, there will be times when your beliefs will be challenged. That's just a fact of life. Universities are filled with students from all over the world that bring a variety of perspectives, opinions, and beliefs different than your own. This is one of the most exciting aspects of college if you are firmly grounded in your faith. If you have determined your beliefs because of your parents beliefs, college can be a challenging time. Start thinking about what you believe, and why you believe it. Don't be afraid of hard questions, and build a firm foundation. 


How to Admit You are Wrong 

Along the same line of thought, it's okay to realize you were wrong about something. Be humble, and start to distinguish between beliefs and opinions. There is a difference. Opinions are often wrong, so don't treat opinions like beliefs. Learn how to be open minded and respectful towards others, and college will reward you with new friends, experiences, and lessons. 


How to be Kind to Yourself

Honestly, this is a lesson I'm still learning. We often demand the more of ourselves then we would ever expect of others. Learn when you need a little kindness, and give it to yourself. Also be healthy. You only have one body, so treat it in a way that is honoring to Christ. While it may be tempting to skip the vegetables and an early morning run, realize that those things are kind in the long run. On the other hand, sometimes  you need chocolate, a hot cup of tea, or a lazy morning. It's all about moderation. 


How to Prioritize

Clubs. Tribes. CAB. Debate Team. BSU. Church. Class. The list goes on and on. College affords opportunity after opportunity, but trust me, you have to prioritize. You cannot do or be everything. Figure out what is a must for you, and go from there. On a day to day basis, there may not be enough time in the day to finish all the tasks on your to do list. If you don't prioritize, you will frantically try to get it all done and end up wasting a lot of time. Prioritization skills equals time management skills



How to Handle Stress

Along with prioritizing, stress management is something that is a must. I wish I had learned effective stress management in high school because it is absolutely NECESSARY to manage stress. If you don't then you will waste time and energy. Furthermore, prolonged stress is detrimental to your health. Figure out what relaxes you. For me it's a hot cup of tea and an hour of yoga. 


Know How to Communicate Effectively

Communication is key. Let me repeat. Communication is key. Whether it's handling disagreements with your roommate or keeping your parents updated on your life, you have to communicate. Human beings can't read each other's minds, and so we have to tell others what we need and want. Also, openness and honesty are the best policies, even if it means feeling awkward. 



How to Make Goals 

This is a lesson you should master by the time you are a freshman in college. Setting goals for yourself helps increase your ability to complete tasks in the short and long-term. Goals allow you to identify and propose practical ways to achieve your dreams. Need to have the Shakespeare play read by next week? Set a goal for daily reading. Want to increase your ACT score? Set a goal. 


How to Let Things Go

Finally, one of the best things to know before you get to college is how to let things go. Don't hold on to past failures and even achievements. It's not that you have to forget about them, but realize that those things don't define you. If you grasp too firmly to the past, you will shut out all opportunity for growth and learning. Instead, live in the moment. Every day presents new opportunities to become the person God has designed you to be.