No matter how many times you hear it, when it comes to education, - a college experience is a life-changer. In college, you learn time management and how to take full ownership of your life.University life,” especially if you go abroad for higher studies, can be a very exciting time. It can seem daunting at first, after all, it might be completely different from what you experienced in high school.

College or University?

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Before you decide to apply, make sure you know the difference between college and university. Although your preferred field of study will help guide you in choosing the right college or university, to put it simply, colleges usually have smaller student bodies and faculties when compared to universities as they offer limited degree programs. Universities have a larger and more diverse student population and offer a wider variety of degrees and classes in comparison to a college.

When making a choice between the two, reflect on your personal learning style. Do you thrive in smaller groups or do large classrooms with more students seem more suited?

INTO schools (Pathway Programs) are a great option for students looking to study overseas as these schools help international students transition into the education system in a foreign country. Take a look at what’s on offer at institutes and programs that are leading the way for international education options such as Shorelight, Colorado State University and Butte University.

Studying Abroad
Keep in mind that when you go abroad to study, you are also leaving behind a support system that you have been used to your whole life; you are starting fresh. A good way to make this transition is to look for a school that offers extensive support services to help international students adjust to life abroad. The Font Bonne University, Liverpool Hope University and the Suzhou Centennial College are three examples of schools that offer great support.
Reach Out to Your Roomie

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You’ve made your selection and are about to embark on an epic life journey. Do some prep before your college term starts, it will benefit you in the long run. If you’re getting a roommate, try to reach out to them before your semester begins. It’s important to know if your personalities will mesh or clash as this is the person you will be ‘rooming’ with for the next year or two. Knowing their interests beforehand will help you set ground rules and boundaries.

Know Your Resources
Do not miss your freshman orientation! It will help you break the ice with your peers, get a feel of your new surroundings and get an important head start. Once you are in college, you will need all the help you can get so invest a good amount of time right at the start to find out what resources you can tap into like your library, academic advisors and mentors. Create study groups because your peers are in the same boat as you, and it’s a great way to build relationships. Take initiative and develop skills when it comes to note-taking. Many colleges offer courses for study skills, organization or something similar.
Class Structure

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You cannot compare your college classes and professors to those you had in high school. Class schedules in college follow a more fluid timetable and can go from 50 minutes to two hours or more. Your academic year will be divided into semesters. Your grades will mostly be determined by the midterm and final exam results. The volume of work is more and you have less time to complete it. Also, depending on the school, your professors might not be  as easily accessible to you as your high school teachers, so time management and organization will play a huge part in how you manage your academics.

Avoid Procrastinating
You will no longer have a parent around to wake you up for class, so while at university or college, you will need to become more responsible. Be consistent with class attendance and stay on top of your assignments. A general rule of thumb to follow is that for every hour in the classroom, you should plan on three hours of studying outside the classroom. You will often see professors giving assignments that are due in two weeks or at the end of your semester. This does not mean you can put off the work until the last minute. The reason you were given more time is because your professor has estimated that it will require more time to complete the assignment, which means you need all the time given. Factor in time for research and assignments from your other classes.

Review and Analyze

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Make sure to review your class notes and text material regularly. You will also see that the assigned material may not be directly addressed in class. It is still your responsibility to read and understand the assigned material; your lectures and assignments will progress based on the assumption that you've already done so. Be thoughtful when choosing your courses, don't take a course just to satisfy a requirement, and don't drop any course too quickly. It’s important to think ahead; set yourself goals for the semester, for the year and for your time in college.

Tests and Grades

The tests in college will not follow a set pattern, they can be irregular and will cover large amounts of material. It is your job to organize the material to prepare for a test. You will also find that not all assigned work is graded. The grades you receive on tests and major papers are often what contribute to your overall grade. Once you’ve had your first set of tests, analyze these carefully. Don’t get bogged down if you received a low grade you didn’t expect. College tests are tougher than your high school ones. But your first tests will help you understand what is expected of you.

College is a huge undertaking but remember that balance is key. Work hard, but also leave room for fun!