This Is The No. 1 Deciding Factor For College Applicants

Stressed About the Idea of College? Here’s What You Can Do

Pursuing college is big decision—one that requires discipline, curiosity, and a hefty sum of money. And not all students who decide to attend college end up completing their education. In fact, 1 in 4 students who entered college in the fall of 2020 didn’t return the following year.

U.S. News recently explored what it takes to be ready for college and offered tips for what prospective college students can do if they start feeling overwhelmed.

IT COMES DOWN TO DISCIPLINE

College-readiness, more or less, comes down to having “an awareness of how disciplined you are and how much structure you need,” says Andrew Belasco, chief executive officer of College Transitions, a college admissions consulting company.

For many students, college is the first time away from parental guidance and familial structure. This newfound independence means new responsibilities—such as prioritizing tasks and developing study strategies independently.

“If they don’t have those essential skills, they’re not going to have the maturity that they need to have to be successful in college,” Monica Jones, college and career readiness coach at Frederick Douglass High School in Kentucky, tells US News.

Typically, experts say the more independent a student is leading up to college, the more prepared they’ll be when they’re faced with the ups and downs of the college experience.

“Adolescents who already practice healthy habits to care for their physical and mental health by getting adequate sleep, balanced eating and getting exercise are more likely to employ these strategies in their new environments,” Lindsey Giller, a clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute, says. “These practices can help keep stress manageable and prevent future episodes of depression and anxiety from occurring.”

YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO COLLEGE RIGHT NOW

Some students may feel overwhelmed by the thought of college—especially if they aren’t sure about the reason they’re pursuing college in the first place.

“The students that really do well in college, whether they’re super high-achieving or not, are ones that really have come to terms with why they’re learning, why they’re pursuing some of the things they’re doing,” Belasco, of College Transitions, says. “Yes, they’re doing it in part for the degree and in part for the grade, but there has to be something else there.”

So, what if you aren’t quite ready to attend college? That’s okay too. In fact, many experts suggest high school seniors to consider taking a gap year to explore their interests and figure out what they want to study when they do eventually go to college.

“It gives them a chance to be independent, chart their own path and not feel like they’re on a path that everyone else is setting for them,” Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors, says. “They have the opportunity to take some time to figure out who they are versus who everyone else wants them to be.”

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