As one thinks about the new life in college, it helps students to be clear on some of the ways that college is unique from the outset. If a student has just graduated from high school, one is likely to find some distinctive differences. For instance, one will probably be a part of a more diverse student body, not just in terms of race, but also in terms of age, religion, political opinions, and life experiences.
Essentially, high school students spend endless hours choosing a college. They use guides to contrast schools. They surf the internet, evaluating websites and getting a feel for each college’s personality. Choosing a school is the first big decision of college life. College life is what I can consider to be the supreme privilege of the youth. The privilege of joining college admits to the privilege of deserving college. College life belongs to the great things, at once joyous and solemn, that are not to be entered into lightly.
Preparing for college life is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. This is because to prepare someone for college is a problem that no teacher and no school have ever been able to solve.
In the widest sense, the transition from school to college is almost coincident with the transition from youth to adulthood, it is often a period in life when the physical being is excitable and ill controlled, when the mind suffers from the lassitude of rapidly bodily growth, and when the youth’s whole conception of his attitude to other people is distorted by conceit.
Sensitive to his own importance, just beginning to know his power for good and evil, one is shot into new and exciting surroundings, out of a discipline that drives and holds him with whip and reign into a discipline that trusts him to see the road and travel on it.
The best school is the one that prepares a person for this struggle, not the schools that guard students most sternly or most tenderly, nor does the schools that guards them, but the schools that steadily strengthen the students to meet new environment. The best college is the college that makes a young person into a full adult.
The first feeling of a freshman is confusion, the next one is often a strange elation at the discovery that now at last his elders have given him or her a head start. In a person’s life, at the beginning of a college course, there must be, as everybody knows, a perilous time of going out into the real world.
To many students, this time has already come at school. The less protected boarding school or academy, the more it is threatened with vices known to a college the cloistered private school does not afford. Due to the lack of opportunities in the day school, students feel themselves more free and uncontrolled. Thus, if a college is in or near a large city, there is a high possibility that a new college student can demonstrate bad habits, which has not been yet revealed by the parents.
The main objects of school and college are the same. They are to establish character, and make that character more efficient through knowledge; to make moral character more efficient through mental discipline. In the transition from school to college, continuity of the best influence, mental and moral, is the thing most needful.
In a certain sense, college is the place for mistakes. In college a young person tests the strength, and, while testing it, he is protected from the results of failure far more effectively than one will ever be protected afterwards. This is usually based on the fact that parents or authority figures are not around to monitor the life of the student. This calls for the students to be in a position to make choices and make decisions about what they feel is right or wrong. It is a period where the ability to establish and stand by principles is tested.