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How to Prepare Mentally Before Starting College

Let’s face it, seniors: once you’ve gotten those acceptances from the colleges of your dreams, it’s hard to stay focused the last couple months of high school. And before you know it, your “last summer” will transition into your first year of college.

You may feel like you’re ready to start right now. Or you may be looking at the calendar with dread. Transitions are difficult for everyone; but the good news is you’re not alone.

Approaching this period of your life with intention as well as anticipation can help you grow. As you prepare to trade the familiarity of one routine for another, it’s important that you reflect on the journey you’re undertaking and check in with yourself to make sure you are maintaining relationships that uplift you and preparing to handle new levels of responsibility and freedom.

We want to celebrate and support you on your path however we can! Read on for our tips to help you cherish the last stretch before you launch into the next stage of your life.

Enjoy the Last Bits of High School

For most of you, your senior year is not wrapping up in a way you could have predicted. Proms, graduations, senior trips, and other exciting traditions have been put in limbo or cancelled altogether.

But don’t let the disruption steal all the momentum you’ve built academically or socially. Continue to engage in learning, even if online instruction isn’t your favorite. Continue to forge relationships with friends and family, even if you have to use FaceTime or Skype instead of hanging out in person. If you have siblings at home with you, now is a great time to grow closer and learn more about each other’s interests.

Be creative about how you spend the last few months before heading off to college. Hopefully, the world will return to normal soon and you will have time to connect with others face-to-face. But in the meantime, practice gratefulness and resilience as you tie up loose ends at school and maintain your relationships with others.  

Get to Know Your Future Peers

The Internet has allowed an awesome venue for you to get to know your college classmates before you begin classes. Chatting with them can be very helpful for getting adjusted. Start picking out your dorm decorations with your roommate-to-be. See which other students might be coming from your hometown. You’ll have some warm connections, so the first day of college won’t only be full of completely new interactions.

Know that meaningful relationships in college will take time. In some ways, you are building from the ground up, unlike those of you who may have attended the same school in the same neighborhood your whole life. Be patient in the process. Prepare to say yes to new endeavors.

You can also begin planning out what you’ll do on campus. Use this time to read more about clubs and organizations you may want to join as well as other features of campus that will appeal to you once you arrive. You can’t plan everything out, but you can hit the ground running.

Make Time to Finish Projects You’ve Started

While your mind may already be focused on the future, don’t forget to wrap up the things that have been important to you already. Perhaps there’s more work to do on an Eagle Scout or Gold Award project. Maybe you’ve been learning a new computer language or finishing a difficult book.

Staying in the present and accomplishing your short-term goals is a great way to prepare yourself for future success. It’s even more important than ever in these uncertain times to stay occupied and productive where possible. Give yourself a leg up on starting your first year of college right by reinforcing the habits of intellectual curiosity and follow through.

If you’re unable to finish projects the way you intended because of travel or contact restrictions, now is the time to be even more creative. Focus on learning skills you might not have had time for otherwise and see what new levels of insight you uncover.

Talk to Other College Students About Their Process

Take advantage of the information available to you from current college students and recent graduates. Their experience will mirror yours to an extent. Ask them what was exciting and what was hard. How did they handle their relationships back home, and what was it like to adjust to a college course schedule?

Learning from their experience can give you a sense of what to anticipate what it is your turn. Of course, everyone is different, but you might find that their advice could come in handy once you encounter an unexpected problem.

Hindsight is often 20/20. Why not benefit from someone else’s hindsight and start your college career off as strongly as possible?

If transitions are particularly stressful for you, be sure to speak with a counselor or trusted adult with experience dealing with such issues. Remember, what you’re experiencing is normal and you will get through it! Be positive and open-minded about the changes coming your way and you can start college on the right track.

The expert admissions consultants at Wise World Prep have helped hundreds of students maximize their potential of being admitted to their top choice colleges and universities. Over 20 years, we have successfully guided students through each stage of the application process – from choosing competitive high school courses to building an appropriate college list to drafting winning essays to writing persuasive update and appeals letters. We would be happy to answer your questions and partner with you to create a successful admissions roadmap.

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