Halstrom Blog Post

Transitioning to College Successfully

Transitioning to College Successfully

By: Dr. Crystal Lee

Transitioning from high school to college can sometimes feel like a precarious leap, instead of the manageable next step in the journey to independence. Oftentimes, students who are successful in high school find the transition to college to be a challenge because the work is faster paced, the instruction is less specific, and the academics are more competitive. College requires students to be more independent, self-driven, and organized. Additionally, the social scene can feel intimidating and more stressful than in high school.

To increase the likelihood of a smooth start to college, preparing for college should begin during high school. Why start so early? The high school years provide a safe time to explore endless learning opportunities, real-life practice, and natural consequences! With your almost adult child still living under your roof, you are more able to fully support your child as they learn new life skills. By preparing them in high school, they’ll start college armed with needed skills, and college won’t feel as overwhelming and new.

Not sure what to target first? Here are some initial questions to think about:

• Does my child have the organizational and executive functioning skills to be successful academically in college?

• Does my child have the time management skills to juggle multiple responsibilities and keep track of (and meet) deadlines?

• Does my child have the social skills to reach out and feel connected on campus?

• Does my child have the stress management skills to cope with the additional demands of college?

• Does my child have the self-advocacy skills to obtain the right supports?

After asking yourself those questions, you might be tempted to try and address all of the above skills at once. Resist that urge! Pick one or two skills to target first to increase the likelihood your child will learn the skills, build long-lasting habits, and be able to generalize those skills to college.

Does your child need skill building before heading off to college, and you want a professional to help? Advance LA provides comprehensive transition services for adolescents and young adults with a wide range of needs, such as learning differences, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and other social/emotional challenges.

Dr. Crystal Lee is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Assistant Director of The Help Group’s Advance LA program. She has worked professionally with children, adolescents, and adults with diverse challenges since 2002.