Do you know how your college functions?

Entering college from high school—or even years after high school—can be a very difficult transition. Each school has different policies and ways of doing things, all of which are very different from the way students entering from high school are used to seeing. Those who are returning to college after an absence of even a few years or are transferring from another college will also see many differences. It is for this reason you should attempt to register early for classes in order to allow yourself time to learn how your school works and what to expect when you begin classes.

Registration Process

The first thing you will encounter is the registration process. You will need to learn how your school works and how they handle the process:

• Do you sign up each semester for classes or should you sign up for all four years at the time of initial enrollment?
• How do they handle financial aid payments? Do you receive any excess money beyond your tuition or do they hold it in an account for you to use the next semester?
• What are the requirements for the Dean's List and other academic awards?
• How many credits must you take to be considered a full-time student?
• What programs and other activities are available for incoming students?
• Does the school offer a scholarship program? What are the qualifications?

These are only some of the questions that you should ask when enrolling in college for the first time or returning after a lengthy absence. Transfer students may also want to know if their classes will transfer credit by credit and if they will receive recognition for activities in which they participated in their former school.

Curriculum

Even though the degree you are pursuing may be the same at several schools, you are likely to find some differences in the way the instructors handle their classes. It is essential for students to become familiar with the policies of their current school and understand that college is different from high school—no instructor is going to remind you of what you need to do. Most college professors and instructors provide a syllabus that outlines the entire course requirements, and it is the responsibility of the students to make sure they follow those requirements.

Campus Life

One of the most important parts of college involves campus life. This includes not only the activities on campus but also the rules of the dormitory, behavior on campus and location of everything students need on the campus and in the surrounding community. The key to a successful college experience is understanding how your individual school operates, the rules it defines for student conduct, and learning how to follow the rules as adults. Remember, college is not a requirement by law, and there is less tolerance for misbehavior; the administration will not hesitate to disenroll those students who continuously disrupt other students and fail to obey community rules.

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