Preparing for Post-Secondary

Planning to start post-secondary?  Here are some tips from a Learning Strategist who has helped thousands of students succeed!

For many students, transitioning from high school to post-secondary can feel quite overwhelming.  Working as a Learning Strategist on a busy campus for the past five years, I’ve met with thousands of students in their first semester, and I’ve seen firsthand some of the many challenges they face.  After meeting with students, they will often say, “I wish I had known these tips earlier!” So I’d like to share my top five tips that can help students prepare and set themselves up for success BEFORE they even start.

Prioritize your self-care.
Establish a time management system.
Find ways to manage your stress.
Discover how to learn and study effectively.
Learn financial and household management skills.
  1. Whenever I meet with a student for the first time, I always ask them about their self-care before getting into any study skills.  This is because it is very difficult for your brain to learn if it is exhausted or dehydrated! Get into the habit of prioritizing your self-care NOW! The sooner the better. Start working towards getting adequate sleep, eating nutritious foods, drinking lots of water, and exercising regularly. These healthy habits all help to optimize your brain for learning.  I’ve seen proper self-care be the difference between passing and failing for several students, so I recommend starting your semester off with those habits already strongly in place. 
  1. After self-care, I talk to students about their time management skills.  Poor time management skills can result in disorganization, procrastination, and increased stress levels… all things you want to avoid!  Time management is incredibly important in post-secondary, especially with the increased workloads and higher demands that come along with college or university.  Many students that I meet with feel very overwhelmed when they realize how challenging it can be to keep track of everything that they have to do while simultaneously trying to cram all the course content into their brains.  This is why I highly recommend that students work to set up some sort of external system for keeping track of where they have to be and what they have to do (external meaning they don’t just try to remember things on their own without recording it anywhere).  It doesn’t matter if you choose to use an agenda, a calendar, your computer, or smart phone as long as you are writing things down so you don’t forget. If you are not currently using a system to keep track of your to-do list and day-to-day plans, then now would be a great time to start.  That way when you start the semester, you already have a system in place that you can rely on to keep you on track. 
  1. College and university can cause many students to feel anxious and stressed out as they try to navigate the demands of school with the other things they may have going on in their personal lives.  Students may choose to work outside of school, or have other family, relationship, or religious commitments to balance. Having a stress management plan or simply knowing how to calm yourself down and de-stress when needed can be super helpful when times get tough.  For some students, going for a run or talking to a friend may be their go-to option for when they need to release some tension, while others may find that mediation or taking a nice bath helps them to recharge and take a well-needed break. It can be helpful to have a few options in mind that you can try so that you can look to be proactive about maintaining some balance to assist you with managing your stress levels. 
  1. Post-secondary means larger class sizes, increased workloads, and higher demands than many students are used to. In my experience, most of the students I meet with have never really been taught HOW to study and learn effectively, and they often start college or university thinking that they can use the same study methods they used in high school. Not a good idea.  It is EXTREMELY important that students take the time to learn about how they learn best and what study methods are the most effective for them to not only retain, but to also understand and be able to apply the information they’re learning. Many institutions will have resources in place to support student learning such as tutors and learning strategists. If you already know that studying and learning is a challenge for you, it would be beneficial to seek support before you start your program so that once you begin, you will already have a toolbox of strategies to try. 
  1. Lastly, if you will be living away from home, you will need to learn financial and household management skills.  If you don’t already know how to, you can start learning how to cook and clean, and how to budget and pay bills now. Your parents or guardian(s) will likely be very happy to teach you these skills or you can search online and teach yourself!  Establishing these skills now will be one less thing you have to worry about learning as you are adapting to post-secondary life.  

For information on the services I offer, visit my website www.studywithjoanne.com.  Happy Studying!