Importance of College Preparation

Some students aren't prepared for the challenges of college life.
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Beginning college marks a major transition. For recent high school graduates, college usually means more independence and the ability to make decisions without the input of a parent. Everyone entering college for the first time must be prepared for the more rigorous academic life in college and for the challenge of balancing various obligations. College readiness is a measure of a student's academic, social and psychological preparedness for college and can play a major role in your college success.

1 Academic Preparedness

Many new college students don't have the academic background they need to excel in college, and the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 34 percent of students in public colleges take at least one remedial class. Students who are prepared for college don't have to waste time in remedial classes, which means they can graduate sooner. Academic preparedness can also increase your likelihood of getting good grades. Basic reading, writing and math skills mean that you can master material more quickly and may even have to spend less time studying.

2 Social Preparedness

College isn't just about academic life. You'll be exposed to a wide variety of new people, often with very different perspectives from your own. Knowing how to make small talk and how to engage with people who have different opinions can help you become a social success. And if you're planning on living on campus, negotiation skills can make it easier to get along with your roommates and navigate conflicts when they occur.

3 Maturity and Discipline

No matter how smart or social you are, college can be challenging if you don't have enough self-discipline to do your work. Time management becomes paramount in college, and it's unlikely that a professor will chase after you if you're not coming to class or doing your work. College life is much more independent than life in high school, so you'll need the emotional maturity to make good choices. Some students struggle with homesickness, with managing the demands of social and academic life and with resisting peer pressure, and being able to deal with these problems while still showing up for class and doing your work can mean the difference between excelling and struggling.

4 Financial Preparedness

College is expensive, with the College Board reporting that average public school tuition for 2012 was $8,655. The cost of attendance at a private school averages $21,706. A student who doesn't have adequate funding to cover these costs could end up leaving school for financial reasons. The cost of everything from books to doing laundry can quickly add up. Students who don't have adequate savings, parental support or a job may end up spending their time worrying about money rather than studying for classes.

5 Risks to Students

The dropout rate in colleges is high, with the National Center for Education Statistics reporting that only 58 percent of college freshmen who began school in 2004 completed school within six years. Preparedness can play a major role in the decision to drop out, and students who have poor grades are more likely to drop out, according to a 2011 study published in "Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process." Even when students don't leave school, feeling unprepared for college can lead to lower grades, difficulty making friends and stress.

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.