The transition from high school to college is one of the most important -- and challenging -- experiences for freshman. During this time, you have to adjust to the escalation of rigor in academics and the change from a somewhat dependent existence to independent adulthood.

Academic Difficulty

One of the more common transitional challenges for college freshman is the upgrade in difficulty and expectations in college classes. Students who may have grown accustomed to getting by in high school through intelligence alone and limited effort find that the same habits don't necessarily work in college. Poor study habits and time discipline can easily cause freshman to fall behind in class work and struggle with first-semester grades. Academic support centers are often available on campuses to work with struggling students on reading, study habits and test-taking skills.


For students who leave home to go to college, homesickness is a common feeling. Even students who often said, "I can't wait to get away from home," find that independence doesn't always offset home cooking, support and comfort. Living in a new environment for the first time and not having mom or dad around to help in tough situations can be a challenge. This can even occur with students who go to a school close to home. You still venture out on your own into the college world without having your hand held.

Social Adjustments

The social aspect of college can be rewarding as well and not just from the traditional party sense. Students may also learn to build strong relationships with peers and instructors. However, living in a dorm or apartment with peers presents a change of scenery and a level of closeness some students aren't ready for. Freshman students commonly share a dorm room or apartment with one to three roommates. This ramps up the level of closeness and requires that students have strong interpersonal skills, the ability to resolve conflicts and mutual respect. Balancing studies with social opportunities and experience is a perk and challenge of college.

Picking a Major

The reality of what comes next is also a challenge for ambitious college students. Many students enter college feeling parental or self-inflicted pressure to pick a major and a career path right away. "What do you want to be when you graduate?" is a common question from peers and professors. This pressure can cause stress and add to the other challenges of adjusting to school. Freshmen uncertain of the right major are often better served to take general education requirements and wait until their sophomore or early junior year to declare a major.

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