How to transition from high school to college


The Daily Illini File Photo

An I-Guide helps a freshman move into Hopkins Hall during move-in week in Fall 2016.

By Aaron Navarro and Samantha Jones Toal

The transition from high school into college is often perceived as terrifying because everything changes; Everything is suddenly different. But in reality, the scariest thing would be is not learning and growing in college, instead ending up as the same kid that graduated high school. Embracing the unfamiliar is essential to growing as a student and person, especially on this campus.

You may have been heavily involved in high school and surely want to continue that into college. Perfect. The campus has endless groups for you to dive in on campus. Super into school spirit? Join Block-I. Loved your local music scene? Look out for Starcourse. But that’s pretty normal, that’s familiar to you, so what’s next?

Introducing Quad Day. Filled with tons of students, clubs, Greek Houses, Quad day is one of the first huge invites into the new. From the BBX beatboxing club to the 104° highclub dedicated to hot tubbing, chances are there is a club for your most hidden interests. The amount of emails you will get after spending four hours signing up may be straight-up scary, but your foot is now in the door for years of new hobbies, people and experiences.

After signing up and grabbing every flier you can during Quad Day, you’re set. You go to each introductory club meeting and find the ones that you’re sticking with. What’s next? How do you find your next great hobby? People. Other students, especially in your first year, can be the best way to branch out and experience new things. Chances are, they’re in the exact same position as you. Go through the new experiences together. You might end up joining a Greek house together or become a power duo in the West African Drum and Dance collective. You’ll never know your potential if you don’t try. Good thing you’ll have thousands of people in your class to try with you.

But don’t forget housing. Your dorm is a good place to find your people. Don’t be afraid to tag along with your neighbor down the hall on a night out. From campus bars to concert venues to food trucks, any given night is an opportunity to find your new favorite on campus. Even during the daytime, Chambana has plenty of hidden gems for you to find. From the “stacks” to the Japan House, discovery can be a common thing for you on campus. Accepting the unfamiliar can lead to some lifelong memories, and it’ll all start with your will to say “yes” and venture out.

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And then more opportunities still exist. There’s more way than one to venture from the coral reef into the open ocean. When it comes to academics and school, try to be risky but in the most rewarding way. Get to know your professors, join professional organizations and apply for internships you’re not sure if you’re qualified for.

Whether or not you were the teacher’s pet or sat begrudgingly in the back of every high school class, you’re wasting time if you don’t at least try to talk to your instructors. Sure, it might help you when it comes to networking later in life, but for now, you’ll just end up learning more about the class and it’s topic. If you have a question, approach your professor after class or shoot them an email. Nine times out of 10, they’ll be happy for the extra interest and babble on for the next 15 minutes about why America’s interference in the Middle East spearheaded the radical Islamic extremism. Just a little bit of your time could help you ace your next test or best case scenario, help you come up with a killer pick up line to use one late night at Kam’s.

It also isn’t a bad idea to mix-up your study techniques from high school, or in some cases, actually study. Everybody at this school is here to get a degree, so you have plenty of serious study buddies more than willing to hit up the library before an exam.

Even if you think you’re better off studying alone, just try it with a group. Treat the vast library system (actually, one of the largest library systems in the United States) as a collection of unexplored islands. Try to study and work on homework at everyone before settling on your favorite. The Communication Library in Gregory Hall, for instance, tends to be quiet and cozy while the Undergraduate Library’s top floor is always jam-packed with study groups.

High school may have been a great or terrible time for you, but either way, it’s over. College is your reset button, and while it is completely okay to continue what you’re accustomed to, it shouldn’t be the only thing you try. Use your familiarities to be the start of branching out and of creating new paths for yourself. The familiar is comfortable, but college is the time to be uncomfortable.

Putting yourself in new, maybe sometimes uncomfortable places, may not always be a positive thing. But you’ll be moving; you’ll learn something new about yourself from each experience. Trying new things out will only develop you as a person and can be the kickstart for your self-actualization in college.