Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Top Pros and Cons for Transitioning from High School to College

Guest post by Amy Moczynski

Your kids have likely been itching to get out of the rigid control of high school and are eagerly awaiting their upcoming graduation to begin the transition to college. In the next few weeks, you’ll watch your child walk across that graduation stage, get their diploma, and begin making plans and growing excited for their transition to collegiate independence.

Something most 18-year-old high school graduates won’t realize is that there are going to be several unanticipated changes they’ll have to deal with. In college, they’ll be completely responsible for everything for the first time. They will discover there won’t be a multitude of people to help them along the way like there was in high school when they lived at home with you. The next few months will be exciting and difficult for your child to face, but making them aware of what they can expect will help ease the transition.

Here is a list of the pros and cons of moving on to college that you can share with your recent high school graduate.


1. You get to have your own apartment. One huge advantage will be your new freedom. You’ll get your own place, but you have to take care of it to keep it nice. Your landlord will charge you for any damages you cause and your mom won’t be around to do your laundry, wash your dishes, and clean up after you. Now is the time to explore your options for areas to live, and there are likely many options near your school, whether you choose a dorm, apartment, or house. (Check out this cool tool for finding apartments in Orlando and see if there are any options for your new city.)

2. Your parents no longer make the rules. Now, you get to make your own rules about your life. You can stay up as late as you want, sleep in as long as your class schedule dictates, and you can have pizza every night if you wish.

3. You have options for choosing your classes. Whatever you want to do or be, there are classes you can take at your college to help you get there. Most classes are offered at a variety of times, so if you’re not a morning person, you can choose afternoon or evening classes. You might even be able to adjust your schedule so you only have classes a few days a week.

4. You have everything you need in one place. College campuses now have just about everything you need to live in one place – fitness centers, restaurants, a variety of stores, and more. Campuses are adding more and more amenities in order to gain an edge on competing schools, so you might have more options compared to your hometown.

5. You can get to know many interesting people. People come from all over the nation to go to various colleges. You will meet many different and sometimes eccentric people that you might not have been able to meet if you stayed in your hometown.


Not everything is roses, however. There are many challenges associated with going to college:

1. It’s expensive. College costs are quickly outpacing students’ ability to pay them, and this may be the case even if you land a good job after college. Some students end up working two or more jobs just to make ends meet after graduation as they have to repay their loans but haven’t found a full-time job to help cover the costs.

2. Going to college doesn’t guarantee you a job. Even though you may have gone to school for four years or more, your education doesn’t guarantee you will receive a job. Right now, the unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, which is 3 percent higher than the rate from four years ago. Only time will tell what the unemployment rate will be when the class of 2016 graduates, so college freshmen could have just as difficult, or an even more difficult time, finding a job once college ends. You may have to work a less desirable job, or in a completely different career field, than you intended while you search for your dream job.

3. Sometimes you feel like a number. For students, the sheer number of new people on campus can be overwhelming. The college experience is so different that it may become difficult to make friends. You might be one of hundreds of students in a class so coming from a class of 30 to 40 students can be a big transition. Depending on if you go to a public or private university, the number of people in a class can range from 10 to 1,000, depending on university and the type of class.

4. Going to school is expensive. In order to pay for that apartment, pizza, and your car, the money has to come from somewhere – you. Many students go to school and work to make ends meet. It can be difficult to manage a full class load and a job, so you might look back at the days when you lived with your parents and wish you had it so easy. You’ll have to spend hundreds of dollars each semester buying textbooks and buying your own groceries for the first time. If you need help finding loans, scholarships, or other ways to save money in college, Wisebread offers resources that can help keep your college expenses under control.

5. Creating your own structure in life can be difficult. Enjoy your freedom and the ability to set your own schedule, but not too much. Some students struggle with spending the right amount of time studying, working, and having fun. Make sure you balance your free time wisely. While skipping class to go to the pool or waiting until the day before a test to do your required reading might not seem like a bad idea at the time, you’ll be kicking yourself during your all-night study session once you realize you’ve fallen too far behind to keep your grades up.

1 comment:

  1. All three of my kids have gone to college outside of our city, some farther away than others, and now all in another state. But learning to live on their own, making their own choices, has cemented the values they learned at home. College is important, not just for the education it provides, but for the independence it gives and life-lessons that will prepare them for the real world. Too bad it costs so dang much!


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