Off to College

Making the transition from High School to College

by anna paige

As students prepare to enter college this month, moving away from home can be an emotional affair for both the student and the parent. Brad Nason, vice president of Student Affairs for Rocky Mountain College, said it is important for the student to recognize he or she will become homesick, and it’s “just a matter of how much and for how long.”

     “Talk about (getting homesick) with your friends and family before you go. You’ll need and appreciate their understanding and support,” Nason said. Rocky Mountain College encourages parents to actively discuss concerns or anxieties their children may have about heading to college, including:

* Will people like me?

* Will I find friends as good as the ones I have here at home?

* How can I reinvent myself?

* Will I be able to handle college academics?

* How will I find my way around this campus?

* Who will I turn to if I’m struggling?

* Will I still be as connected to my family and friends?

* What if I don’t get along with my roommate?

     As high school students begin the transition from home to college, some moving into the dorms in their hometown, others into different cities, Nason said that communication is key for students becoming comfortable in a communal living situation.

     “For most students today, college will be the first time in their lives that they have shared a bedroom. Conflicts are bound to arise and roommates that can effectively express themselves adjust more quickly and can often pre-empt problems,” Nason said. He urges new roommates to talk with each other about expectations and apprehensions, and be sure to listen to the other person’s concerns.

“Agree on a set of rules for your room and include a system to voice your concerns. Don’t be reluctant to tell your roommate how you’re feeling about a particular issue, and be receptive really listening to theirs,” he said.

     Jeannie McIsaac-Tracy, director of student life and housing, leads orientations with new students at Montana State University Billings. She discusses with students the “Top 10” pieces of advice:

1. Get to know other people. Become connected. 


2. Take responsibility for your academic success.


3. Use the academic resources and systems in place to          support you academically.


4. Utilize the other student resources and programs

    that you pay for with your student tuition and fees.


5. Use career services from start to finish (choosing a major, part time work, internships, the final job search)


6. Take your personal safety and wellness seriously.


7. Become active and involved in campus life.


8. Take advantage of opportunities available to you at (your college).


9. Keep your information updated (address, email, phone number)and read all the information you get from the university.

    Don’t ignore emails or letters you get.


10. Attend everything the first week of school.

     Nason also urges students to take advantage of his or her new student orientation program.

     “Orientation is often designed and managed, in large part, by current students, students that know the ins and outs of the institution,” Nason said. “Participate in everything the college has to offer in those first few days.  It will provide you with the most practical insight to how your school really works.”  SFM

Anna Paige is a freelance writer and journalist based in Billings and founder of Pen and Paige, a marketing, editorial and promotional company. Contact her at www.penandpaige.com.