Many students entering college directly from high school feel intimidated. Most worry about the expectations of what they need to retain from high school in the fields of math, science and history. It might surprise you to discover that it isn’t what you know, but how you learn, explore and problem solve that is the biggest factor when entering university.

Things such as how to research, how to study, how to solve problems, how to take notes, and how you memorize or retain information what most professors and graduate students acknowledge is key. Most courses have a syllabus, a paper you get at the beginning of the course telling you what you will learn and how you will learn it. Many courses have what is called “prerequisites” that you must meet to make sure you are able to complete the course. Typically colleges and universities have a set of courses that they expect a incoming high school student to have, though there is no guarantee that the student actually has retained the information.

However, here is something you should be thinking about. You are going to go to college and get into a classroom where the teacher doesn’t think the same way you do. You may have an assumption that in all of these areas there is “ONE RIGHT ANSWER” given to the teacher for you to consume and the throw back at somebody to show that you “know.”

On the other hand your professor will not think that way. They will be trying their hardest to get you to construct knowledge for yourself, not be given the knowledge by some external authority.

What they want to do is to give you the support to come up with your own answer and defend that answer with experiences, ideas, and research. What educators want isn’t for you to go through their program, check all the boxes, and get a job (though the college administrators may want that very badly) they want you to become a better, fuller, happier human-being. They want to move you into adulthood where you can make the world a better place for you and for the people you care about.

Most professors believe that education can do that by challenging your assumptions, making you question authority, allowing you to create your own identity, giving you a space to test that identity and modify it without a great deal of consequences, and ultimately allowing you to make life decisions for yourself based on the complex life you are living.

Here are a list of questions you should try to answer yourself:

  • Who am I now?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • How do I get there?

There will be people who want to give you those answers. Your teachers, your parents, your friends. The only person who has the right answer is you. They want to give you the ability to be at a place where you feel comfortable answering those questions.

One last piece of advice. Find a mentor. Someone who will allow you to steer your own life in the direction you want it to go while empowering you do make good decisions based on their life experiences.