Learn how to expertly transition from high school to college with these tips

When going into the first year of college the world is your oyster. Many students will move away from home for the first time and have their first taste of true independence. While this transition is exciting, it can also be challenging to leave behind the structure of high school for a college schedule that requires students to be more self-sufficient and self-motivated.

Luckily, Lees-McRae offers several resources to help first-year students adjust to college life through the Burton Center for Student Success. Beth Beggs, the director of the Burton Center, is a friendly face that all incoming freshmen should get to know, and she is full of advice for new students. Beggs says there are two “deadly habits” that many incoming freshmen struggle with. Knowing these habits is the first step to overcoming them.

The first “deadly habit” is trying to bring high school study habits to college courses. In high school many students had no problem waiting until the last minute to do work and still got good grades, but that’s not as easy in college.

“You probably can do high school work in the same timeline, but it’s coming at you faster, because this is college now. Everything is going to take longer than you anticipate, so be prepared,” Beggs said.

The second “deadly habit” is sleeping late. When you’re living with friends and making your own schedule, it can be hard to hold yourself accountable.

“If you’ve got an 8 a.m. class, be independent,” Beggs advised. “I think students really struggle to find that balance of independence and dependence that first semester. I would say the best preparation for being independent is knowing when to ask for help, and knowing who to ask for help, and the Burton Center is a huge part of that.”

The Burton Center offers resources to help students get ahead of these habits, including peer coaching for traditional trouble courses such as math and science courses, the Ratchford Writing Center, the first-year experience course, and much more.

Beggs recommends students take the first-year experience course seriously, as it will help them develop essential skills that lead to success in college and beyond.

“It’s the introduction to college life; it will tell you how and where to make friends, it will tell you what’s going on around campus, what’s fun to do in the area, and where every form of support on campus is located,” Beggs said. “You get to meet the people who work in counseling, financial aid, and admissions so that if you have questions you get to see the face of the person you might want to go talk to.”

Self-scheduling and time management is a big focus of the course, and is a skill that Beggs said can make all the difference when it comes to managing the independence that comes with college life. She  strongly suggests using and maintaining a planner to help remember assignments, block off study time, and even keep track of social obligations.

One resource available to students through the Burton Center is the peer coaching program. Peer coaches are trained to help their fellow students with assignments for any class, as well as provide general study and organization tips.

Another valuable resource is the Ratchford Writing Center, which employs peer coaches that can specifically help students become stronger writers.

“The writing coaches will be able to help you work through your writing, and maybe give you some suggestions,” Beggs said.

In addition to these options, students are encouraged to visit the Burton Center for resources to help them overcome personal struggles as well. Because of the small student body at Lees-McRae, Beggs and the other staff members at the center are able to form personal relationships with the students and provide support for all kinds of different scenarios.

According to Beggs, there are many student populations who may find the college transition more challenging than most, and she is passionate about providing the necessary support to make their time at Lees-McRae the best it can be.

“I think homeschooled students, those who identify as first-generation where neither of their parents completed a four-year degree, students who are Pell-eligible, students who are student-athletes or work a full-time job, married students with babies—all of these are populations that might face unexpected challenges,” Beggs said. “In the Burton Center, Sue McGuire and I meet with students individually, primarily to talk about how they’re budgeting their time. For example, if you’re talking about a parent of a very young child, there’s not going to be much time to budget, so we talk to them about how to manage that small amount of time they’ve got.”

The biggest recommendation Beggs gives to all incoming freshmen is to take advantage of the many opportunities and resources Lees-McRae provides to make this transition smoother. She encourages students to not be afraid to ask for help—after all, that is what she and the rest of the team at the Burton Center look forward to providing for Bobcats every day.

Learn more about the resources offered at the Burton Center
By Maya JarrellAugust 04, 2022
AcademicsCampus Life