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June is the time for new beginnings. Thousands of students leave the sheltered environment of school to start a new life in college. But, for those who think of college as being a five-year party full of bunked lectures, movies, discos and hanging out with friends, remember -- this new world can either be a stepping stone to your success or an experience best forgotten -- the choice is yours.
Don't lose sight of the goal
Even the most diligent of students can go astray in college. The freedom of college life teamed with the challenges that adolescence throws up can often prove to be too much for a sixteen-year-old to handle, and studies often take a backseat.
Says CBSE career guidance and special student counsellor Abha Sharma, "To cope with college life, students require basic study skills. This means that they should be able to study without needing supervision. In college, professors do not watch over students and so it is important for them to study responsibly and know that the basic purpose of college is to prepare for a successful career."
Dealing with peer pressure
Peer pressure is another difficult thing to handle when you get into college. You want to fit in, be part of the 'cool' crowd, prove that you are no longer a kid and that's when habits like smoking, alcohol consumption and drugs begin to look enticing. The increased pocket money is an added benefit. But you need to decide what's right for you, draw your own boundaries and stick by them.
"Students need to have the maturity to make the right decisions. Inculcating 'life skills' in early life can bring this about," says Sharma. "Such skills include problem solving, dealing with emergencies, knowing whom to reach out to when in distress, seeking help from responsible adults when required, money management and knowing the importance of parents and teachers."
Asking for help doesn't mean you're a kid
Bending the rules becomes fashionable in college; teachers and parents aren't as important anymore and most teenagers feel the need to assert themselves and be independent, which is a vital part of growing up. But you need to realise that your parents are there to help you grow. So share your life with them, talk to them about your hopes and your fears. Chances are they might just have some insights that will help you deal better with college life.
You need to be firmly grounded if you want your college career to be a happy, fruitful one. It is easy to get carried away by the freedom that comes with college, but in the long run, all play and no work will make Jack a dull boy!
Strike the right balance between studies and fun. The newfound freedom can be a difficult thing to handle and very often students end up making the wrong choices, effectively jeopardising their future. Remember, you can make your college years the most memorable part of your life or the most forgettable -- so make your choices wisely!
What was it like when you first started attending college as a teenager? After a relatively sheltered life in school, how did you handle the newfound freedom? Do you have any tips to share with youngsters gearing up for higher studies and adult responsibilities? Share your experience, advice and list of dos and don'ts with other Get Ahead readers. Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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