Guest Post: 5 Not-So-Obvious Things High School Students Need to Know Before College

As our students get ready for college in the fall, Transformational Coach, Jo Beth Evans, gives school counselors some tips on some not-so-obvious things students may need to know to be better prepared.  Jo Beth shares some great information to share in parent presentations and in individual conferences.  Check out Jo Beth's companion handout for parents!  Visit JoBeth’s blog, and see how educators and parents can better support students in their journey to adulthood.

School counselors wear a lot of hats. One day, you are administering a test. Then, the next minute, you are making a hotline call. One hat that school counselors often wear is that of a mentor in preparing students for college. No matter what age group you serve, you are preparing them for life as an adult. 

As an adult, these students are going to be expected to do everything from balancing a job and academics to establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Often times, as educators, we get consumed with the academics and forget that these are real humans who will have experiences in life that push them to the edge. Therefore, we have the responsibility of equipping our students with the tools that they need not only for school, but also for life. 

Students need to be equipped to handle these five things before they bust out of those high school doors. 

Number 1: How to Self-Advocate 

Picture this: a student qualifies for an accommodation, but the professor is not giving the student that accommodation. Then what? Even though colleges and universities hire faculty to advocate for these students, students are still responsible to recognize an issue and reach out to an instructor or advisor. Aside from students with accommodations, students have to stand up for themselves in the classroom in a variety of other ways. Here are some ways that students can advocate for themselves in the classroom.
1. Send emails to your instructor that are straightforward: no assumptions, no accusations, and with the understanding that they are people, too. 
2. Before contacting the professor make sure you have done some research on whatever issue you are having. Make sure you know what you are talking about and are able to articulate yourself well. 
3. Be confident, but also be mindful that you want to have a good relationship with this professor. Make an effort to be polite and understanding. 
4. Leave your emotions out of it. Stick to the facts and the solution that you are looking for. By doing so, you will get what you need more often. 

Number 2: How to Socialize Safely 

Students are going to party. They need to learn in high school how to party or socialize safely. Students can and should socialize without substances, but realistically, students need to know what to do if they find themselves in a situation where they are under the influence. 
Here are some incredibly important tips that students need to know.

1.    Never leave an intoxicated friend behind at a party. 
2.    If you are even slightly impaired, do not drive. 
3.    Always watch your drink, even if you aren’t drinking alcohol because you do not have to be at a party where alcohol is being consumed to be a victim of a date rape drug. 
4.    Do not walk alone at night or in places that are not populated (i.e. trails, streets, campus, or town at night). 
5.    Do not take, eat, or drink anything from someone you do not know and trust. 

Number 3: How to Study 

Many high school students do not know how to study, and this is typically your high-achieving students. You know, the ones who can ace anything. They get to college, and all of a sudden, things are not so easy anymore. For the first time in their lives, they have to study -- and they don’t know how. This is not their fault. Studying is simply a skill they have never practiced. Here are some basic skills that students can use to improve their studying habits.

1.  Read, highlight, and annotate text. 
2.  Find a quiet, comfortable place to study. 
3.  Get a study group together to talk about the content you are trying to learn.
4.  Use the internet to learn more on the subject. 
5.  Schedule a time to meet with the professor to ask questions.
6.  Utilize the study centers and tutors on your campus.
7.  Swap study guides and class notes with a peer.
8.  If allowed, record class lectures. 

Number 4: How to Use Their Time 

In high school, students are parented and instructed on what to do most of the time. Then they get to college, and no one is there to instruct them on how to spend time. In addition, Americans have become addicted to technology. If the phone or watch vibrates, we stop what we are doing immediately and see what is going on. This kills productivity and makes being efficient with our time nearly impossible. Here are some things that students can start doing today to take their time management to the next level. 

1. Make a weekly schedule and stick to it, no exceptions. 
2.  Set a specific time aside for each task, then complete the task in that amount of time. 
3. Turn off notifications while you are working on a task so that you will not be distracted. 
4.  Make yourself go to bed and wake up at a decent time. 
5. Schedule your fun time. 

Number 5: How to Manage Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are by far what I see students struggle with the most in college. Because they do not know how to deal with numbers 1-4 above, they become stressed and anxious. Students need tools to use to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Consider the following tips.

1.   Plan to have 30 minutes of physical activity a day. 
2.  Avoid drinking sugary, caffeinated drinks. 
3.  Practice quiet time or deep breathing. 
4.  Have some kind of activity that helps you relax and reset. 
5.   Find a good friend group. 

Adulting is hard. Students coming out of high school are experiencing independence for the first time, and for most students, they are trying to be 100% independent. They want to show their families that they can do it on their own without help, which means that they might not reach out to parents when things are not going well. 

To ensure that students are leaving high school with everything they need to be successful, make sure that you are teaching them the not-so-obvious things, too.

Bonus!! Counselors: check out the helpful parent handout created by JoBeth  on the 5 things their student needs to know before attending college.