Molly Graveno: Making the transition from high school to college is tough. Classes are different, exams are longer and harder, you don’t have anyone reminding you to do your work or take your vitamins. Don’t worry if you are struggling or homesick. Chances are, everyone else is struggling or homesick too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it be from a professor during office hours or your RA if you just need someone to talk to. Your grades might not be as high as they were in high school, but that’s okay! All you can do is try your best, and don’t give up.
Here are 10 BIG differences between high school and college:
1. You have to walk to class. Outside. In the Snow: You have that perfect pair of flats that look so good with your outfit, but then it becomes the worst decision you ever made when you have to walk 10 minutes across campus through snow and slush. Of course, in early Fall and Spring, many of the views of downtown Pittsburgh and the Southside are breathtaking. Invest in some good snow boots and save the cute flats for Spring.
2. High School – Wake up 90 minutes before school. College – 20 minutes before: The best part about living on campus is definitely the convenience. If you are like me, you are likely to forget your calculator, lab coat or wallet at least once a week, and it is so easy to go back and get stuff when your class room is six minutes away from your dorm room. You really start to feel the benefits about halfway through the semester when you don’t get out of bed until 20 minutes before class starts and you aren’t late! You may not have brushed your hair, but who cares?
3. You get to spend a lot of time with your friends: It is amazing that you can hang out with your friends all of the time and go to the library together. You can even schedule your classes together. People you hadn’t met six months ago are now your closest friends. But always try to find some alone time to clear your head.
4. Nobody checks your homework: For the vast majority of your classes, your professors will assign homework, but they never collect it or check to make sure that you did it. This sounds amazing, however I STRONGLY suggest that you do your homework, because if you don’t your test scores will show it.
5. You actually have to study. A lot: Everyone entering the pharmacy program at Duquesne is very smart. If you are like me and a lot of other people, you didn’t have to study that much in high school. In the professional phase of the pharmacy program I typically study at least 15 hours for an exam. I know this sounds insane, but because you aren’t in class all day you have plenty of free time to study as well as do all of that other fun stuff that college kids do. Do not wait for the night before to start studying.
6. You don’t have a curfew anymore: Life is great, you are on your own, you can go back to your room whenever you want, and your parents will never know! There are so many awesome things to do in Pittsburgh and you now can schedule your own social life without passing it by your parents. The downside is, your mom is no longer there to do your laundry. Learn how to do laundry before you move in so you don’t make a fool of yourself while trying to figure out the machines. Embrace your newfound freedom (but don’t go too crazy!).
7. Lab is not just a blow off class: In high school, I loved lab because it meant that we weren’t sitting in our seats, listening to the teacher but we were learning hands on. In college, lab is just as informative, but not as laid back. TAs can be super tough graders, so stay focused! One time I got a point off on my lab report for not writing my lab partners name on every page. Before going to lab, make sure you understand what you are doing completely, don’t forget to do your pre-lab assignment and do not take lab reports lightly.
8. Food = Everywhere: The first few weeks of school it seems like there are so many options between Towers Dining Hall, The Incline and Options Food Court that you just have to try everything! Then midterms hit, and you are so sick of eating the same hotdog and fries for dinner. When you get sick of eating the same thing at Towers, try switching it up and go to the Red Ring or Freshens on Fifth Avenue by the College Bookstore. Even getting a sandwich at a campus market is a nice change of pace.
9. Opportunities for involvement are limitless: You have probably heard about all of the different organizations there are, but, like, seriously. There are over 200 student organizations on campus. This may seem very daunting and a lot of freshmen are hesitant to get involved because they aren’t sure which clubs to join, but there are clubs for everything, so there’s definitely something out there for you. To find out what that club or organization is, attend the EXPO Fair in September. The Center for Student Involvement’s EXPO Fair allows clubs to set up info tables so you can speak to club members and sign up for initial meetings and events! Plus there are a bunch of pharmacy student organizations you can get involved in.
10. Your Best Friends from High school aren’t around anymore: It is a big adjustment if you are like me and went to a different university than all of your friends from high school. Making new friends is hard, especially if you are a little shy like I am. However, when you move in, everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is trying to get to know one another and make new friends. Duquesne does a wonderful job with orientation, and it is a perfect opportunity to meet people that aren’t your roommate(s) or people in your major. It is still important to keep in touch with your friends from high school but make sure you are putting in effort into making new friends at school too. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers at the beginning. It is a lot less weird to go up to someone and ask them their name during orientation week than it is to do it half way through the semester.