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High school’s coming to an end and you’re about to start college, which probably feels exciting, bittersweet and a little scary.

No need to let the fear of what’s next overwhelm you. We asked college students for advice they wish they knew before college to help you embrace the transition ahead.  

1. It’s Just a Step

“Don’t be scared that you’re not considered a kid anymore — college is the next step into real life.”

— Sebastian Milo, Temple University

2. It’s OK Not to Know

“If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s OK. Try everything in college. You never know what you’re going to love.

— Joshua Rosario, Kean University

3. You’ll Work Even Harder

“No one really prepped me for the difficulty of the classes or exactly how busy I would be and how imperative it is to study when you’re not busy. I wish I knew that finding a good balance of studying and extracurricular activities is key to being successful in college and later in life.”

— Courtney Valtman, Florida State University 

4. Reach Out to Classmates

“Nine out of ten people aren’t interested in making friends in class — you’ll make most of them in clubs and organizations. At the very least, talk to some classmates so that you have someone’s contact information in case you’re confused about an assignment.”

— Nain Ladak, Rutgers University

5. Ask for Help

“I wish I knew to never be too proud to ask for help. I never wanted to ask teachers or professors for help, even when I was completely lost. I only started asking for help as a junior, and it was the best thing for me.”

— Alyssa Cuccurullo, St. Joseph’s University

6. You’ll Have to Entertain Yourself

“The one thing I wish I knew about college is how much free time you have! In high school, I was running all over the place. Once you get to college, there is a lot more downtime — and rightfully so, because school is harder, professors expect more and there are so many distractions. My word of advice: Do your schoolwork and get involved in clubs or activities so you can meet new people. That’s the best way to make productive use of your free time and acclimate to your new environment.”

— Shane Hulse, New York University

7. Talk to Teachers

“Talk to your professors. It always helps to go to office hours, but if you can’t make it, then answer questions in class. Or better yet, ask questions. Introduce yourself after class. It makes you want to come to class if you know the professor.”

— Nain Ladak, Rutgers University

8. Be Open to Everything, but Still Be Yourself 

“Walk around with an open mind. An open mind leaves more space for knowledge, adventures, friendships, lessons and perseverance. Make room in there and be ready to defend some of your own beliefs.”

— Erin Salmon, Shenandoah University

9. Remember: It’s All Small Stuff

“Don’t take everything so seriously and don’t stress the small stuff that you ultimately have no control over.”

— Gillian Muller, Florida State University

Interviews for this article were conducted in 2018.