Adjusting to College

Adjusting to Creighton University

Welcome to Creighton University!   We are excited to have you join our community and want to help facilitate your transition to college.

Going to college and adjusting to a new lifestyle involves many changes. It can be thought of as going from one culture (high school) to a very different one - with a different language, norms, and expectations. Changes can be both exciting and sometimes scary. However, the more you can begin to think about and prepare for these changes, the more successful (and happy) you well be at the university. We at Creighton University Counseling Services want to offer you a few things to think about as you adjust to your college courses, social life, distance from family, and self-reliance.

College is an exciting, scary and growing experience. Counseling Services ishere to facilitate your journey while in college. Our staff is composed of psychologists who are trained to offer a variety of services to students-from individual or group therapy, career counseling, to providing outreach services to residence halls. Our services are free and confidential. When you arrive on campus, take some time to find our office and say hello. Once again, Welcome to Creighton University!

Academic Adjustment

Academics - College is often very different from high school. In high school your teachers often remind you of tests, assignments, and ask you to turn in your work if it is late. In college, you are given a syllabus at the beginning of the semester and are expected to be prepared throughout for exams and turning in your work. In addition, you are given more freedom and responsibility to attend classes. The challenge for many students is to decide whether they want to be a passive learner (i.e., an empty container; that just waits for a professor to fill it) or an active learner (i.e., someone who ensures that they learn what they need and will take initiative in the learning process).

Social Adjustment

Social Life - Will you be attending with friends from high school or will you be the only one you know when you arrive at CU? Those first couple of weeks of college can be difficult for some people. You may want to think about how you might want to meet friends. Often this takes a realization that you need to take some risks- for example, being the first on to initiate social contact or participating in activities for new student.

Living - We encourage students to live in a residence hall. This is the best way to learn about campus and meet new people. Seniors often tell us that their best friends are those they meet their first year in the residence hall. Residence halls can be fun and exciting. One of the changes for many students is that living in the residence hall requires them to SHARE their room. You may want to begin to think about how you negotiate in order to make living in this new home as positive as possible.

Family Adjustment and Homesickness

Family - Going to college is often the first time that a student leaves home. The student and family need to negotiate some new rules. How often should one call? Is it okay to talk about how one is doing in school? What happens if the student is not doing well either academically or socially? How often should the student go home? Starting to talk about these new 'rules' will make this transaction easier for the entire family.

Freedom and Self-Care

Freedom - You will, in many ways, be on your own. How are you going to handle this new freedom? Will you go 'wild' or will you find balance between fun and academic requirements? Think about your goals and how you want to achieve them while on your own.

Understanding the Difference between High School and College

Successful college students seriously pursue the understanding of ideas, cultivate a spirit of curiosity, ask questions, and maintain a positive attitude towards learning.

Student Responsibility

High School "Teacher Supported"

College "Student Directed"

High school and teachers require attendance.

Successful students attend all classes although attendance may not be required.

Teachers remind students of assignments, tests and make up work.

Students complete assignments and take tests on time.

Teachers tell students what to learn.

Successful students determine what to learn and know how to study using their own learning styles.

Teachers…

  • Summarize main ideas.
  • Outline notes.
  • Provide study grades
  • Formulate questions.

Successful Students…

  • Use effective textbook reading skills to learn content.
  • Take effective notes & study them regularly.
  • Create their own study guides, maps and graphic organizers.
  • Generate questions and answers from varying perspectives.

Teachers guide research and the location of information.

Successful students possesses library and internet research skills

Teachers give students supplementary information.

Successful students seek background information or supplementary resources.

Teachers monitor student performance by providing grade sheets.

Successful students monitor their own performance and set improvement goals.

Teachers discipline inappropriate talking in class.

Teachers do not tolerate inappropriate talking in class.

Teachers usually require less outside studying than in college.

Successful students study 2-3 hours for each one hour of class time.

Teachers provide in-class study time and students often study with many distractions.

Successful students use study areas on campus and create a study area at home.

Others schedule a student’s time for classes, sports and work

Successful students must develop personal time management systems for college classes, study time, work and social life.

Students often choose elective courses based on internet.

Successful students choose courses based on program, degree or transfer requirements.

Academic Environment

High School "Student Focused"

College "Content Focused"

Teachers give short lectures that often duplicate reading assignments.

Teacher’s present extended lectures that supplement assigned readings.

High school classes are usually limited to 30 or fewer students.

College classes are usually larger than 40 – 100 plus students.

High school classes meet daily.

College classes meet 2-3 times per week.

Teachers provide necessary background knowledge.

Teachers assume students have background knowledge and skills.

Teachers focus student learning with questions.

Teachers expect students to generate questions.

Teachers cover all content in class.

Students are responsible for all material whether or not it is presented in class.

Teachers provide organization.

Students must have systems of organization for assignments, notes and handouts (notebooks/folders).

Resources & Support

High School "Teacher/Parent Directed"

College "Student Directed"

Students have daily contact with teachers and receive regular feedback.

Successful students have limited contact with teachers and must seek feedback.

Teachers and parents direct academic accommodations and services for students with special needs.

Successful students seek out academic accommodations and special assistance.

Teachers provide extra help.

Successful students seek out peer tutoring and further academic assistance

Friends and family support students.

Students may not be in contact with a family support system and need to create a new support system.

High School "Teacher Structured"

College "Student Structured"

Teachers usually give structured assignments with explicit directions.

Successful students organize and interpret assignments and conduct research independently.

Teachers often use T/F, multiple-choice and short answer test formats.

Teachers give complex exam questions requiring analysis, application, and synthesis of ideas and theirs using multiple-choice and essay formats.

Teachers give frequent tests and provide make-up tests and retakes.

Teachers give fewer tests (2-3 per semester) and generally do not allow for make-ups or retakes.

Grades are based on quality, completion, and effort given to all assignments.

Grades reflect the quality of the product and adherence to college-level thinking and writing.

Teachers offer extra-credit opportunities to improve grades.

Teachers may not offer extra credit.

Classroom Tips

Attend all classes:Arrive on timeDo not leave early

Be prepared:Read and process text before class – formulate questions to have clarified.Review previous notes.Do problems, brainstorming, outlines.

Sit close to the front:Listen activelyTake notesAsk questions

Seek assistance:Visit instructor during office hours with questions/concerns.Get peer tutoring assistance.Get a sturdy buddy.Go to learning centers – reading, writing or math

Hand in work on time and do not miss exams:Have work college-level ready to hand in on due date.Do not use excuses to rationalize lack of preparation.

Be realistic, use a calendar, and follow course syllabi:Schedule assignments, tests, projects.Schedule study time – 2 hours of study for each hour in class.Honestly account for family, social life, work, class, study and transportation.A 15-credit semester load = a full time job

Preparation Tips

Take 4 years of high school math.

Take college preparatory, enriched and honors courses.

Take elective courses that develop background knowledge such as sociology, psychology, geography, anthropology, philosophy, biology, chemistry and physics.

Develop strong communication skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Take college preparatory courses in critical reading and study skills.

Source: MNADE Publication

Internet Resources

These website links are provided for educational purposes.  They offer generally accurate information from a neutral values stance.  Counseling and Psychological Services does not specifically endorse any of the values-based advice offered on these links.  In making decisions, you are urged to seek out sources of information and wisdom that reflect your personal values as well as the religious, ethnic, and cultural traditions to which you adhere.