The transition from one level of study to another is usually both exciting and challenging. It’s even more daunting when you are moving from high school in your home country to a college or university in a foreign land. There is always a new language to learn, new methods of teaching and learning to adapt to, a new environment to acclimatize to, and of course a new culture.

To excel in college, you must prepare for these challenges beforehand while also brushing up on your academics so you’re ready when the term begins.

The good news, however, is there are a few things you can do to overcome these challenges and prepare yourself for an amazing college experience.

Tips to Brush up Your Academics Before College

  1. Enroll in a Pathway Program

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This is a comprehensive way to tackle most of the challenges that come with studying abroad:  a language barrier, a new teaching method, culture differences, and so on.

Many colleges offer Pathway Programs to help international students improve their English language skills and test scores and get acclimated to the campus environment before their actual college studies begin.

In addition to these benefits, Pathway Programs also help international students understand the curriculum at their chosen college or university.  This program can help them develop the necessary research and critical thinking skills required to succeed in college.

Another benefit of such programs is that most schools count the credits of pathway classes toward your overall college coursework, which means that you have a better chance of getting accepted to an undergraduate program and you also get a headstart on the credits required to earn your degree.

If you are interested in a Pathway Program, you can check some of our popular programs here (Prepare for success with a pathway program). You may also check out some of these schools for a Pathway Program or English Language Preparation course that suits your needs and budget: East Anglia, the University of Exeter, University of Stirling, Washington State University, Colorado State University, Illinois State University, Shorelite schools, St. Michael's College, Western English Language Centre – Canada.

  1. Improve Your English Language Skills

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If you can read, write and speak English fluently, then you are already a step ahead of many of your peers. English language skills are important to academic success. This is because most international institutions of higher learning deliver their lectures in English and as such require all applicants to demonstrate competence in the English language by passing tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS. In addition to a major requirement for admission, college coursework requires a lot of research, critical reading and writing. So being able to read and comprehend key information presented in class or in textbooks is critical to your academic success.

If you desire to improve your English language skills, then the following tips will be of help to you:

  • Read daily: Cultivating a daily reading habit is a good way to improve your reading skills and learn new vocabulary that you can use when speaking or writing. When reading, be sure to make use of a dictionary so as you can look up the meaning of unfamiliar words that you come across. A dual-language dictionary would be perfect as it would help you understand the meaning of words in English and your native language.
  • Watch movies and TV shows in English: Watching movies and TV programs in English is a great way to develop your listening skill and learn the right context for certain words. These skills will be crucial in understanding in-class lectures and communicating with your classmates and teachers in the future. To start, you can watch movies and shows with subtitles in English so you can read and listen at the same time. Eventually, you won’t need the subtitles anymore!
  • Enroll in an English language class: Whether you want to sit for an English language test or not, enrolling in a class to help you improve your language skills is a valuable investment that will pay off during the course of your study. And having a tutor is a proven way of learning faster. So do it!
  • Learn how to write fast: As you already know, college coursework involves a lot of tests, quizzes and exams, most of which are timed. Knowing how to put down your points on paper within a limited time will prove to be very valuable.
  1. Work on your Study Habit

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To excel in college, your study ethic must be top-notch. Prior to college, you can develop good study habits by doing some of the following:

  • Discover what works best for you: Figure out what time of the day your focus is the sharpest and when you are the most productive, and schedule your study and homework sessions during this chunk of time. It will also be helpful to know if you prefer studying alone or if you benefit more from meeting with a study group.
  • Learn how to take notes during classes and discussions, and ensure you review these notes later. There are different ways to take notes. Find out which method – bullet points, outlines, writing by hand, typing on your computer, color coding – makes the most sense for you.
  • Learn how to stay organized and manage your time. Always make a to-do list, set weekly goals, read for upcoming tests and finish your assignments on time.
  1. Improve Your Technical Skills

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Today, learning involves a combination of in-class teaching and technology. So, it is important that you learn how to accomplish simple tasks using a computer. Basic computer skills necessary to succeed in college includes online researching, typing and web conferencing.

  1. Develop the Ability to Think Critically

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Colleges and universities are where thought leaders are born. Unfortunately, critical thinking has never been part of any university's curriculum, although, you can build these skills by questioning basic assumptions, evaluating existing evidence, engaging in discussions, asking questions in class and considering various perspectives when you learn new topics It is important that you learn how to objectively conceptualize and analyze issues to come to a valid or evidence-based conclusion. And in the future, employers will value your ability to think outside of the box and bring fresh, new ideas to the table – a direct result of thinking critically.

  1. Brush up Your Exam and Revision Techniques

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Obviously, it’s important to have strong study skills in order to ace your college exams.

Many students tend to practice a  “fire brigade approach” to studying, which involves studying intensively right before exam day. This method often leads to poor performance.

If you are still in high school, then it’s a good time to discover the revision techniques that work best for you. There are so many different ways to study and prepare for exams and you need to find the methods that work together with your study habits and skills.

Some examples of good revision techniques include using flashcards, recording and replaying lectures, rewriting notes, answering practice questions, explaining what you have studied to others and engaging in independent projects in a specific subject..

All in all, the most important – and beneficial – tip is to find out what works best for you, and stick to it. We’re all individuals, with unique strengths, skills and interests. What works for your friend might not work for you. As you prepare for your education abroad, keep this mind and learn to trust yourself, figure out what works for you and put it into practice so that when you begin your Pathway Program or university degree program, you have skills that you can count on.