by Athanasius Clark
Being a former homeschooled student, now in my sophomore year at Christendom College, I can safely say that I have learned a few things in the transition.
1. Deadlines Are Real
Homeschooling tends to be very flexible, and often if a student needs more time on a particular project, this can be helpful. Not so with college. In college, students must complete their work by the deadlines. This sounds easier than it is, because term papers have a tendency to quickly go from looking harmless to terrifying if you are not on schedule.
I learned this the hard way when I once put off a history paper until the last minute. Consequently, I realized that frantically typing out an eight-page research paper that is due the next morning is not the best way to spend a Sunday night.
On a positive note, homeschooling students often have strong study habits because they have self-motivation, which is vital in college.
2. Learn to Take Notes Well
For the most part, the homeschooling environment does not lend itself to note taking; nevertheless, it is an invaluable skill in college. One of the primary elements that separates successful students from others is the ability to take properly organized notes during class, and review them often outside of the classroom.
During my freshman year, I was not the most organized student, and a key change in my academic strategy to improve this was to restructure my note-taking method. Often when a student is struggling, the solution is as simple as improving his or her note-taking skills.
3. Seek Out Help
Helpful resources can be found in various places, and a student should not be afraid to use them. Students often utilize study groups before a test in order to review the material with each other. Professors are usually happy to assist a student who needs help and often devote time to these students during their office hours.
Resident Assistants on campus can also be very helpful to students outside of the classroom—in fact that is one of their duties. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your parents for help. Many students take time to contact their moms and dads on a regular basis either for academic help or just moral support. Remember, just because you are in college doesn’t mean that your parents stop being teachers.
Living at home, I have a unique advantage of staying in close contact with my parents, who are both alumni of Christendom, and thus have gone through many of the same classes.
4. Balance Studying and Fun
While doing well in school is important, for many people college can be a very fun and rewarding time. The choice of whether to go out with friends or study for an exam is a constantly occurring choice that only you can make. Sometimes you will be prepared enough for an upcoming exam so that you don’t have to study that night, and other times it will be necessary. Whichever you choose to do, focus on that thing.
Studying will not be productive if you keep thinking about an event that you are missing, but the event will not be fun if you are nervous about an exam. At times I have been on both sides of this scale, although experience has made me more aware of where the balance lies.
5. Set Aside Time for Prayer
As a college student, you will choose how to spend your time at every hour of the day. With this added independence comes greater responsibility, and it is important to remember your priorities.
Take the initiative to spend time in prayer.
Christendom makes this easy for me, due to the Christocentric nature of the school. Students often attend daily Mass that is held on campus in the chapel, and classes are scheduled around it, so everyone has the opportunity. However, I sometimes just drop into the chapel for personal prayer, which can be done at many colleges or universities.
I hope that these tips will help as you begin your journey through college. Ultimately, you will already be well prepared having been a Seton student.