Tips for Conquering the Transition to College Student

Categories: Life at Columbia

Making the jump from high school to college-level studies can feel like quite a shift. On the one hand, it’s awesome: you have way more freedom in the courses you choose, more flexibility in your schedule, and you get to learn at a deeper level. On the other hand, it’s challenging: there’s more to juggle and more is expected of you in terms of reading, writing, and thinking.

Plus, there’s the extra dimension of faith & spiritual growth. You’re not just here to write papers – you’re here to get to know God better, to explore big questions, to deepen your faith, and grow in who you are as a follower of Jesus. It can be stretching (but in an amazing, this is totally-worth-it kind of way.)

Never fear! An amazing thing about Columbia is that this is a community where people really look out for each other. You’ll find that faculty and staff are eager to help, and there are great resources you can access: Academic Support, the librarians, and Counselling Services.

We’ve also rounded up a set of tips from current and previous Columbia students. Try to keep these in mind as you get ready for September.

Josh B. studying in his dorm room

Ideas for managing your assignments.

Plan out your week.

“All assignments are laid out for the whole semester from the beginning. Start early.” (Austin B.)

“Don’t put it off: keep on top of notes and readings.” (Owen B.)

“Have a desk calendar and as soon as you get your syllabi, write down each assignment due date and a set a day to begin the assignment so you aren’t so swamped when the assignment is due. Get off campus and study in a different place where you won’t be distracted by your peers or the summoning of your bed to sleep. Create a to-do list at the beginning of the day so you know what you have to get done.” (Kaitlyn P.)

“Write out the goals you want to accomplish today/this week/this month. Break down those goals down into smaller, more attainable steps. This will help make things appear less overwhelming. :)” (Dallas H.)

“Spend time in the library without distractions, look at the sample papers to help format, ask the library staff to help find resources, and sign out one of the rooms to get more table space.” (Eric T.)

“Buy a big chalkboard or whiteboard. Right out every exam, test, assignment, and project, in date order. One big list. And what they are worth. (% wise)So nice to see what’s due when and what you need to spend more time on. And it’s super satisfying to cross each one off one by one and see the list go away! Happy studying!” (Lyndsay W.)

Stay healthy & rested.

Two Columbia students on a hike

“Make exercise a priority – it wakes your brain up, gives you more creativity, and boosts your energy.” (Stephanie J.)

“Frequent naps are irreplaceable.” (Ryan S.)

“Start a small tradition every week that brings you joy so you can maintain your sanity as the semester progresses!” (Ferin W.)

“Go to cheap swim.” (Matt S). (He’s talking about the Matsqui Rec Centre Pool Toonie Swim 🙂

Naps are irreplacable.

Remember it’s smart to ask for help.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help – whether you need clarification on how to do an assignment from your professor, help finding resource material in the library, or help with time management or editing your assignments. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from older students, professors, librarians, or academic support!” (Ashley F.)

“Make sure your phone plan allows you to call the people who will be able to encourage you, talk you through a stressful moment, or hear about your highs and lows of the week.” (Leslie M.)

“Go check out Academic Support at the beginning of the year! Do not wait until the day before your assignment is due.” (Katheryn C.)

Try to stay balanced.

“Make sure you take time to pursue the passions God has given you. Set aside time just you and God, connecting with him in the way that best suits you (journalling, singing, hiking, praying, etc). This time of life isn’t just about head knowledge, it’s about heart knowledge too!” (Heather B.)

“Don’t be afraid to hang out with friends for a few hours or take time for yourself’; we all need that too. Have fun — first year is a great year to learn a lot about yourself, God, and make new friends. Don’t forget to do daily devos; it’ll be hard to keep them priority because BIBLE everyday, but create a routine at the beginning and friends to keep you accountable so you don’t lose sight of your own relationship with Christ. Finally, coffee — never forget to coffee daily, it’ll help you stay awake in class and help you stay awake when your cramming to get an assignment done at 3 am :)” (Kaitlyn P.)

“Keep reminding yourself why you are there. Get your priorities straight! It’s super easy to get caught up in things that aren’t important.
That said don’t neglect what God wants to do in and through you while you’re there. School is important but getting perfect grades is not everything. I think I had a good balance of achieving in class while enjoying the relationships and culture of the school. Still some of the best years of my life and I learned a lot.  Also, if Ken Esau is still teaching OT survey – it IS as hard as you’ve heard it is… but you won’t regret what you’ll learn in that class.” (Daunavan B.)


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