Transitions for First-Year Students
So it’s that time, and you’re off for the grand adventure of college. Before you arrive, we would like to suggest a few areas for you to think about and prepare for as you come.
Read, read and then read some more!
This is what you will spend a great deal of time doing in college. Most of you will come with a limited ability to sustain active reading for a long period of time. It takes practice and discipline.
You can ease into the transition by doing some reading over the summer. While it might not be the same type of reading as the academic material you will cover in college, it will get you practicing.
Also, you must be an active reader. Ask yourself questions about the material while you are reading. Take notes and highlight. Look over the whole chapter to get the main ideas before you read it for detail. These little things can make a big difference.
The “free” time trap
“Free” time seems to be in abundance at college. Most of you will only be in class for about 10–12 hours per week. With few assignments between occasional tests and papers, it seems you have a lot of free time. But this is one of the biggest traps for college students.
Professors can expect that you will spend two hours outside of class doing homework for every hour spent in class. If you do the math, that means you should be spending between 20 and 24 hours each week studying. Most of that time is spent — you guessed it — reading!
So think of this as your job and set up a schedule. Use your time during the day and don’t expect to get all your studying done at night. It’s an adjustment, but you can do it!
These choices are numerous and all affect your success as a student. To drink or not to drink is one. While Westmont has established policies prohibiting the use of alcohol, the choice and the responsibility is yours. You have all seen television shows and movies that portray alcohol as part of college. It can seem you are missing out if partying is not part of your college experience. What the movies don’t show is the physical, mental, spiritual and academic toll drinking can take on a student. Most Westmont students choose to have a fun and fulfilling experience without alcohol.
This is just one of the many decisions you’ll face. How much sleep do you need to get up for your eight o’clock class? What kinds of things will you do to grow spiritually? It might help to think through these questions before you arrive so you’re ready to set the direction for some of the decisions you will face.
Who me, homesick?
Most of you will get homesick. For some it will be missing your parents, for some missing your siblings (can you believe that actually might happen?!), and for others it might be missing friends. This is healthy, but hard. There is no way around it — only through it. It will get better if you hang in there!
“Old” vs. new friends
Making friends will be harder for some than for others. If you’re not as outgoing, making friends will be tiring and scary, but if you stretch yourself to meet people from the beginning, it will happen.
For others, it may be hard to let go of high school friends. It is important to remember that it probably took years for those friendships to develop, so your college friendships often won’t be like them for at least a year. It will be tempting to run to those close friendships from high school, but if you do, you won’t be allowing your new ones to grow. High school friendships will change, and some will fade away, but these are the seasons of friendship. If you’re prayerful, patient and flexible, new and lasting friendships can and will develop.
Who am I?
Going to college means starting over. Those of you who were good students in high school may get your first C on a test.
So who are you? Those of you who were well known and were involved in everything will face a situation where you are one of 350 new students — you have to start over. Those of you who were varsity basketball players may not make the team, and those of you who were honors students may get average grades at Westmont.
Be patient during this time of transition. God will be stretching your old definition of what it means to be you, and if you are open and flexible, you may be surprised and happy with the new you you see on graduation day.