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From High School to College: How To Make The Transition!

March 24, 2012

By  Joe DePalma

As our world gets bigger and we push against its boundaries, we realize that every road isn’t going to lead home anymore.

As you reflect on your high school days, you will see things that make you happy, things that you wish you could take back, and things you wish you had done. It is the painful regret of lost opportunities that will be the clearest and sourest of your recollections. These regrets are the clearest because they represent all the things in your life that you do not have.

Inside our failures to seize life’s moments lies the lost possibility of all of our dreams. If we could have only gone against the grain of popular opinion more often, began a relationship with that special person or even if we could simply have opened our eyes to the possibilities that were passing us by, we wouldn’t feel that lack of fulfillment that we sometimes experience. The truth is that those times are behind us. They are lost. Those chances we did not take will never be offered again. Those regrets of missed opportunities for the great high school romance, for high school athletic or artistic glory or for high school academic greatness will stay with us.

As a college student it is time to become aware of the choices you are making that are not serving you well. You begin doing this so when you are 40 years old, you won’t talk about what you wished you had done in college. Instead, you will reminisce about the magical days of college that you didn’t let disappear before your eyes. Very soon, you will have many opportunities-both social and academic-to create an incredible college life. However, unlike in high school, you will be more aware of those moments and they will not slip past you so easily.

Up to this point in your life before college, the only things that you could really call your own were your hopes, fears, loves, and dreams. You have lived in a house that you did not pay for. You ate food that somehow just appeared in the kitchen. You slept on a bed that your parents bought for you when you were a child. All that you had to say to people who asked about your future was what you were planning to do. Anything you could say in this situation would just sound like something the last person said or something the next one would say.

Now is the time and college is the place to let your true colors shine through by being aware of your choices and following through on everything you say. Be aware that anyone can say they plan to make a name for themselves in college. Anyone can say they are going to strive for greatness, but very few students actually get up and do something about it. Very few actually follow through.

When the smoke clears and the fascination of starting college fades, it is time to separate the students who will follow through from the ones who only say they intend to follow through. That is where you are going to find out what you are made of. That is where your individuality will be found. As you fight your way up from the bottom of the pack as a freshman, you will see many others retreating back to the safety of their home towns and comfort zones. That is NOT a positive or productive choice. As your world begins to get bigger, you want to grow along with it. As you do, you will begin to understand that your life is what YOU make of it, and you will only grow as large as the fish bowl you put yourself in. You will also realize that your life is not changed by what happens to you; instead, it is changed by how you react to what happens to you. And, most importantly, you will learn that education is not just about teaching you facts, but rather it is about making you comfortable and curious with the realization of how much you do not know.

For starters, college will open your eyes to the inevitable realization that, for the first time in your life, every road is not going to lead home anymore. The new roads you will discover will take you to places you have never been and will introduce you to people whom you have never imagined you would meet. These windy college roads will explain to you that it is okay to be scared of the unknown, but they will also whisper to you in no uncertain terms that running home and hiding from your fears is not an option anymore.

** The Transitioning From High School to College One Sentence Motto: “I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I won’t be back the same way again.”

* ACTION STEP – Transitioning From High School to College *

List two people and two places at college that have surprised you the most in a positive way and opened your eyes to how much “more” is out there. Then, list a few quick reasons why you chose these four examples and how they affected you. This will help show you just how much you’re growing and how great it is to be open to new experiences.


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