• Vrutika Soneji

Understanding the Transition from High School to College

College is a completely different world. Compared to high school, there is more freedom and opportunity to focus on the topics you love most. How do you get to the college that is right for you and navigate the new waters? In a recent BeyondDreams webinar, Columbia University student Mira Soni, Boston University student Andrew Kelbley, UCLA student Dhruv Khosla, and Notre Dame student Dave Mohan, shared their advice on what you can do to smoothly bridge the gap between high school and college. The full webinar is posted on the BeyondDreams YouTube channel, but here are a few summarized tips and tricks!


Difference Between High School and College



A significant difference between high school and college is the schedule. In high school, we are accustomed to going through a school day, staying after school for extracurriculars, coming home, and finishing homework. However, in college, you get to determine your schedule based on the class times you take. Since you are not operating on a fixed schedule, you have more freedom to choose what you do with your time. This freedom comes with responsibility, so ensure that you are making use of your time outside of classes.

According to Andrew Kelbley from Boston University, “A lot of the friends that you make are through the clubs that you are in. Use extracurriculars as a social space. You also will be in only a few clubs since your interests naturally start narrowing.” Shared interests are the best way to make friends fit for you!

In addition to extracurriculars, a portion of your time at college can be dedicated to internships. Interning can help you understand what field interests you the most and can help increase your experience in the workplace.

Finally, college commonly has optional work, like readings and homework. Dave Mohan from Notre Dame advises, “stay on top of the optional work because you will pay for it when finals come around.” Completing optional work will help you gain a deeper understanding of the content expected on the final exams.


How to Make College Decisions



Getting into colleges is an amazing achievement, but how do you choose the right one for you? First, consider questions such as,

  • Is your specific major available?

  • How close do you want to be from home?

  • What climate suits you better?

  • Do you want to be on a large or small campus?

  • What type of on-campus facilities do you need?

Understanding your stance on these factors can greatly influence what college you want to attend. Mira Soni from Columbia emphasized to go somewhere that will be academically and socially challenging. Changing majors is common among most college students and is completely normal, so be sure to pick a college that gives freedom to change your mind.


How to Deal with College Loans in Big Cities



While the cost of living in a city is higher than rural areas, Andrew Kelbley advised not to worry about it. He explained that the cost of living will be relatively the same across all colleges if you are living on campus, and living off-campus is even cheaper. Mira Soni said that there are lots of free activities you get as a student in the city, like museum entries and tickets to performances. Additionally, there will still be plenty of financial aid options for city colleges, so the cost of living should not be a big concern when choosing a college. However, remember that the situation can differ from college to college depending on where it is.


What Not to Do in High School



You are only in high school for 4 years of your life, so you want to make sure that you are making the most of it. It is important to do a lot of college research prior to applying, so you truly understand what you want in a school. Also, make sure to be kind to yourself. For example, do not get upset at yourself for receiving a bad grade. Make it an opportunity to learn from those mistakes and improve on what you can do better. Appreciate the work you do and understand that the work you do today will best prepare you for the work given tomorrow.. Finally, sit back and enjoy high school! Dhruv Khosla from UCLA said that it will go fast, so enjoy the moments you have with your friends and go to games, socials, and dances!


Planning ahead for college is a great way to secure a bright future. Learning the differences between high school and college can help you ease the transition. Understand what you want from a college and choose the right one for you. While the future may be daunting, be sure to enjoy the moments in high school now! These key tips will ensure a smooth transition to college without regrets!



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