The Summer I Turned… A Graduate?

High school students graduating

By Brooke Bendix, LMSW

Embracing the Shift from High School Graduate to College Student

Picture this: As the warm breeze of May sweeps through, senior year of high school starts winding down. The air is buzzing with excitement and nostalgia—AP exams, prom, senior parties, and, of course, the iconic senior skip day. These are the final, carefree moments of high school. But as the graduation caps start to loom on the horizon, a sobering reality begins to sink in. Suddenly, you’re hit with the daunting question: “What do I do now?”

Graduation is not just a ceremony; it’s a rite of passage that propels you into a new phase of life, filled with new challenges and opportunities. It’s thrilling and terrifying all at once. For many students, this transition is accompanied by sleepless nights plagued with worries about the unknowns of college life.

Facing the Academic Challenge

The transition from high school to college is notoriously tough. According to a 2021 survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, nearly half of the college freshmen reported difficulty adjusting to the pace and rigor of college academics. About 30% struggled to grasp what their professors expected of them academically. Another study by CollegeData echoed this sentiment, revealing that 50% of students felt unprepared for the academic demands of college, particularly the amount of studying required.

More than 17% of students were taken aback by the sheer volume of studying necessary to succeed. “I’ve found it’s impossible to succeed in college without studying an intensive amount,” one student explained. Another noted, “I took all online classes but was still surprised at the amount of studying I had to do.”

Class size also poses a significant adjustment. About 16% of students were unprepared for this change—9% were surprised by large class sizes, while 7% found themselves in smaller classes than expected, which was a pleasant surprise for some.

Learning Beyond the Classroom

College is more than just textbooks and lectures; it’s a vibrant ecosystem where learning happens in every corner. Beyond the structured environments of classrooms and labs, learning also takes place through interactions with peers, professors, and professionals you’ll meet along the way. Engaging in discussions, participating in study groups, and attending guest lectures or seminars can significantly enhance your understanding of the world. These informal learning opportunities are vital in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are essential in real-world scenarios.

Furthermore, internships and part-time jobs related to your field of study can provide practical experience that is invaluable. These experiences not only supplement your academic knowledge but also prepare you for the complexities of the job market, making you a more competent and confident professional. Embrace these opportunities to learn from every situation, and see how they lead to personal growth and career readiness.

Navigating the Transition: Tips for Success

So, how do you cope with this significant life transition? Here are seven practical tips from a young adult therapist in West Bloomfield, MI to help you shift from high school to college successfully:

  1. Give Yourself Time to Adjust to Being a High School Graduate: Remember, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Allow yourself time to get used to the new academic and social environment.
  2. Explore Campus Resources: Most colleges offer a plethora of resources, from tutoring centers to counseling services. These can be invaluable in helping you adjust and succeed.
  3. Manage Your Time Wisely: College life is a balancing act. Developing strong time management skills is crucial. Prioritize tasks and avoid cramming by spreading your studying over manageable time periods.
  4. Develop Good Study Habits: Establish a routine that works for you. Whether it’s studying in a quiet library or a bustling coffee shop, find your zone and stick to it.
  5. Prioritize Self-Care and Mental Health: Transitioning to college can be stressful. Make sure to take care of your mental health by getting enough sleep, eating well, and finding time to relax.
  6. Embrace Diversity and Foster Inclusivity: College is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. Embrace this diversity and engage with people from different walks of life. It will enrich your college experience and broaden your perspective.
  7. It’s OK to Be Homesick: Feeling homesick is part of the transition. It’s perfectly normal to miss home, but also remember that college offers the chance to create a new home among new friends and experiences.

Final Thoughts from A Young Adult Therapist on Being a Graduate

Transitioning from high school graduate to college student is a significant step in your life’s journey. It’s filled with challenges, but with the right mindset and strategies, it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. As you toss your graduation cap into the air, remember that you’re not just marking the end of your high school days. You’re also celebrating the beginning of an exciting new chapter. Embrace it with an open heart and a curious mind. Here’s to your future—the summer you turn into a graduate is just the beginning.

Start Therapy with a Young Adult Therapist as a Graduate in West Bloomfield, MI

Therapyology is here to support you through the exciting yet challenging shift from high school to college. Our young adult therapists specialize in helping with the navigation of major life transitions, ensuring you don’t have to face this new chapter alone. To begin your journey as a graduate with us, simply follow these steps:

  1. Reach out to talk with our intake coordinator
  2. Start therapy for young adults to get support with the unique challenges of transitioning to college.
  3. Begin your path to a successful and independent college life.

Other Services Our Therapists Offer in Michigan & California

We offer more than just counseling for young adults. Our therapy services also support children, teens, and parents.  Some of the specialties we provide include therapy for children of divorce, grief counseling, and more. Additionally, we provide Camp Therapyology in Michigan and camp in California.