tips for making a successful transition from high school to college

Posted : March 24, 2015
Last Updated : April 17, 2019

tips for making a successful transition from high school to college

Because college varies greatly from high school, you will need to take appropriate steps in order to make a smooth transition as you begin your college career. Utilize these tips as you graduate from high school and begin your first semester at college.

Participate in a summer bridge program.

Bridge programs are offered in most communities and through many colleges to help students easily transition into college life. Federal TRIO programs, such as Student Support Services and Upward Bound, are educational outreach programs designed to encourage and assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds make the college transition. Individual colleges also offer their own bridge programs to help entering freshmen have a smooth changeover. These programs will teach you the ins and outs of succeeding in college, such as getting involved on campus, developing good study habits, making new friends, etc. Contact the student services department at your selected college or university for specific information regarding the school's bridge or TRIO program.

Attend new student orientation at your college.

To help ease the transition from high school to college, most colleges offer new student or freshman orientation. New student orientation usually lasts two to five days over the summer and allows you to meet other classmates, learn about campus life, ask questions, and take care of any unfinished business before the fall semester begins. For more information about new student orientation, be sure to read Benefits of Attending Freshman Orientation and How to Have a Successful College Orientation Experience.

Find mentors.

Just like you had mentors, such as teachers or coaches, to help guide you through high school decisions, you will also want to find mentors to help you throughout your college years. A good support system is critical in order to transition successfully from high school to college. College mentors can provide advice, share wisdom, offer encouragement, and help guide your academic and career path. Consider the following contacts as you seek out your college mentors:

  • Professors
  • Grad students and assistant professors
  • Academic advisors
  • Bosses and supervisors from jobs or internships
  • Resident assistants in your dorm building
  • Students from school-organized mentorship programs
  • Individuals from school and professional clubs and organizations
  • College alumni

Learn how to study at the college level.

In regards to your studies, the biggest difference between high school and college is the level of thought required. On average, high school studies focus more on memorizing facts, whereas college studies require more analytical thinking. College learning is more about understanding a concept and discovering how to apply that concept in different situations. You will want to carry over your good study habits from high school, such as taking notes and reading textbook material, but as you begin to attend your college classes, try to think about the big picture that your professors are trying to relay. Contemplate how you would apply the concepts in which you are learning to various situations outside of the classroom.

Adopt a self-directed mindset.

In high school, your learning schedule is highly structured, and teachers are in charge of making sure you stay on task. Your high school teachers remind you of upcoming tests, conduct review sessions to prepare you for the tests, and prompt you to turn in homework assignments. In college, you will not have this type of hands-on instruction. College professors will give you syllabi at the beginning of each semester, and you will be in charge of making sure you stay on task. For more information about becoming a self-directed learner as you transition from high school to college, check out the articles in the Study Habits and Time Management section of this website.

Advancing from a high school senior to a college freshman is exciting, yet can still be challenging. A little preparation will go a long way in making sure you have a successful switch to college life. For more information about making a smooth transition from high school to college, contact the student services department at your chosen college or university. Educational Discounts

forgot password?


Please enter the email address with which you registered. If the information you submit matches what we have recorded for you, a new password will be emailed to you.

Be sure to add "" to your trusted senders list.

Share with your friends an article from


tips for making a successful transition from high school to college

characters left