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What is post-secondary going to be like, and how do I prepare?

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Answer

For most students, the change to post-secondary education is liberating and energizing. You will have more freedom and independence, opportunities to make new friends, chances to discover people who share your interests, and the ability to focus on subjects that really interest you. Your own personal transition will depend on a variety of things, especially

  • whether you’ll be living at home or away
  • what you’ll be studying
  • how much you like what you’re studying
  • whether you participate in school clubs or sports
  • how you approach challenges as they come up

Make the Changes Positive

To make sure the changes are as positive as possible, give some advance thought to how you might handle some of the most common hurdles young people experience. For example

  • Expect academic changes. You’ll probably have much larger classes and less personal contact with teachers. You might also have fewer tests, so each of them will be worth more.
  • Prepare yourself for some relationship difficulties as you forge new attachments and leave old friendships behind. If you go away to school, you might also be a bit homesick at first.
  • Anticipate both the opportunities and the pressures that come with having the freedom to express yourself in new ways.

Get to Know Yourself

You might find that, along with learning a profession or acquiring the credits you need for further education, post-secondary offers you a chance to figure yourself out.

For example, you might discover that the program you chose is not for you, after all. Don’t let that worry you. This happens a lot, and most schools are prepared to help students change their course of study if needed.

Learn to Budget Your Money

Entire articles have been written about the need to prepare yourself financially for post-secondary. If you’re going in with a lean budget or student loans, start thinking now about creative ways to keep your spending down.

In general, a great way to prepare yourself for post-secondary is to ask other students about their experiences. If you don’t know very many older students, check out Learning Clicks for thoughtful, humorous and sincere first-hand accounts of how other students have survived the switch.

Get a Head Start

Most post-secondary institutions offer orientations to help students make the transition from high school. Take a look at the website for the college or university you plan to attend, and see what they offer. For example, the University of Alberta’s Student Success Centre offers T2U (Transition to University) sessions, both online and in person.

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