Any major transition can leave an impact on our mental health. Even when the change is positive, it rarely comes without at least a small amount of anxiety follow it, and this is especially true when we have to abandon the straightforward life of high school and enter ‘the adult world.’
Parents reassure us, teachers warn us, friends seem full of either excitement or dread, and in this mix of fears and emotions it’s tricky to find something to anchor us and keep us focused. Are you worried about how you will handle college now that your last days of high school are coming near? Then we’ve got some advice and useful tips to make the transition smoother.
Consider a gap year
A gap year is merely a waste of time for a lot of people, but for some, it can be a really good opportunity. If you’ve had a really difficult time in high school, if you feel like your mental health has suffered and made you weak and weary, then taking this time to get better could really help you out. Bear in mind that this does mean that you should spend the year seeing a psychiatrist and working on self-improvement. It will only make sense if you use the time to get better, not spend it lazing around on the couch. Alternatively, a gap year could also be a great opportunity to travel, work, and especially volunteer – simply to gather useful experiences that you can later put on your college resume.
Learn how to be organised
While college can be a test of your intelligence, it’s actually a lot more about willpower and perseverance. It’s not about being smart, it’s about being organised, consistent, and simply able to sit down and get things done. In your high school, you have parents to nag at you, and your teachers to push you to work, but in college you only have yourself. No one will really nag or bother you much, but bear in mind that this can be a dangerous thing. Unless you can keep up with the workload and finish things on time, obligations will simply keep piling up until they bury you. If you need help staying organised, you can check out these tips.
Don’t focus solely on boosting your resume
Colleges love extracurricular activities. They love part-time jobs, volunteer work, sports, debate clubs, anything that shows that you’re an active person who takes initiative and who cares a lot about self-improvement. However, it’s important that you actually find something that you like doing and that you don’t let all the extra obligations overwhelm you and make you tired. One of the easiest ways to get into Stanford University or other Ivy League colleges is to actually do things that inspire you and interest you. Don’t think about what would look good on your resume because it’s a very quick way to sign up for things that will exhaust you and frustrate you.
Don’t be afraid to fail
You will inevitably fail at some point. Whether it’s something simple like temporarily losing focus and lagging behind or something more nerve-wracking like failing a class entirely, it will happen. And you know what? That’s fine. It happens. The fact that you failed doesn’t need to mean anything, and it won’t mark the rest of your future forever. A strong person isn’t someone who never fails, it’s someone who knows how to deal with failure. When you stumble, don’t despair. Pick yourself up, figure out how you can do better, then do it.
Take mental health days
It’s important to take everything one step at a time. Stay organised and work hard, but learn how to recognise signs that things are becoming too much and that you need a break. It’s okay to simply take a day off sometimes and use it to calm down, do something that you like, treat yourself to a long bath and a relaxing evening. It’s also important to engage in your hobbies and interests, don’t let college or high school make you forget about those. Whether it’s video games, sports, books, or something else, separate some time during the week to simply do what you like with no other worries on your mind.
Going to a university is a pretty huge change, but it doesn’t need to overwhelm you. Talk to your parents and ask them about their experiences and let yourself get excited about the prospect. College is still a world of new opportunities and experiences, and most of them are bound to end up being positive. You’ll learn how to be more self-sufficient and stable, you’ll become educated, and you’ll meet interesting new people and forge strong bonds of friendship. It’s time to enjoy yourself and have fun!