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Transition to College

Attending college can be overwhelming for many due to academic, social, financial and environmental adjustments.
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Starting college can often be an adjustment for students. If coming straight from high school, the workload can be a big change. If coming from a mission, managing your own schedule can be a challenge. If it has been many years since you have been in school, or if your previous experiences with school were not positive, then returning again can be almost terrifying. And if coming from a work environment, it can be hard to know that your work isn’t done when you leave your class! Because of the various changes, there are several different types of adjustments that you might face and it can be stressful. But this can be a great time to evaluate where you are and where you want to be, and set news goals and habits. We’ve included plenty of tips that can help you in this process.
working on homework
College can be a big adjustment from high school, whether you just graduated or are starting school again after several years. Even for students who have been studying at a different college before, Ensign College may present a challenge due to the unique learning pattern that is utilized here.
  • Prepare properly for and attend every class. This includes doing the readings, preparing assignments and coming ready to discuss whatever is on the syllabus. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re confused.
  • Familiarize yourself with the syllabus. This clearly lays out all assignments, due dates, and how you will be graded.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Talk to your teachers. They want you to succeed! If you are struggling, don’t avoid them. Talk to your success advisor, who can also provide guidance and help.
  • Don’t put off doing your work. It can be easy to procrastinate, especially on big assignments that aren’t due until later in the semester, but it’s important to stay on top of your assignments.
  • Learn how to study! The study skills you had in high school may not be sufficient in college. Learn good study habits and put them into practice. 


Whether you’re moving to Salt Lake from a different country or you’re just coming from down the street, college can be a time of big social adjustment.

  • Be a good roommate or housemate. Whether you’re living with someone you’ve never met that comes from a completely different background from yours or whether you’re still living at home with your family, be considerate. Communicate about what’s going on with you and address any conflict before it explodes.
  • Connect with other students. You are not alone! Hundreds of other students started at the same time you did and are experiencing similar things in the same classes. Don’t be afraid to make friends with those around you.
  • Get involved. Whether that’s volunteering at an event, participating in a ward activity, or joining a community organization, your unique talents and experience is needed and can benefit others, as well as yourself.
  • Consider how to deal with changing relationships. If you’re away from home (or even if you’re at home but are busier due to college), your relationships with friends and family may change. Figure out how much and what sort of contact you want to have with them. You don’t need to completely start over socially!
  • Manage your social time. Students who are away from home and family for the first time may experience a lot of excitement over feeling like the rules that existed at home are no longer a concern. This can result in investing in so much social time that time for school begins to deteriorate. Unhealthy social habits can become hard to break, so seek to begin college managing your schedule so that time for school and study is not neglected.
College may be the first time you are responsible for your own budget and purchases and it can be overwhelming. Even if it isn’t the first time you’ve been the one responsible for paying for your life, the added expenses of tuition, books, and supplies can seem like a lot.
  • Educate yourself about your own financial wellness. Look at your income and expenditures and set and stick to a budget by living within your means.
  • Talk to the Financial Aid and Scholarship offices. They can help you see what you may be eligible for as you pursue your education.
  • Connect with Career & Internship Services, especially if you need to look for a job. Make sure to register with Handshake so you’re ready to apply when you see a job you’re interested in. 


Being in a new location (new apartment, new city or state, or just a new college) can be an adjustment. Getting comfortable with your surroundings can be tricky, but definitely doable.

  • Create a study spot. Whether that’s at the library, or at a desk in your house, creating a dedicated study place can help get you into homework and study mode and block out other distractions.
  • Explore your new surroundings. Being in downtown Salt Lake for school offers a lot of neat places and opportunities. Look online for new places nearby to check out, or just go for a walk. Ask others about their favorite places to eat or hang out and give them a try. And if you don’t live near the school, do this in your own neighborhood, too!
  • Establish a new routine. This can be a great time to set a schedule that works for you. If you’re a morning person, take classes in the morning. If you’re a night person, you may prefer afternoon and evening classes. Make sure to also schedule in enough time for sleep and exercise, as physical health is really important, too!


Bradbury-Haehl, N. & McGarvey, B. (2016). The freshman survival guide: Soulful advice for studying, socializing, and everything in between. New York: Center Street.

Kaplan, S. & Riegert, K. (2016). Goodnight dorm room: All the advice I wish I got before going to college. Berekley, CA: Ulysses Press.

*Please note that selecting any of these links will redirect you away from Ensign College's website. Because websites are constantly changing, Ensign College does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of this information.


The Student Success Center is here to help! Please contact us with any further questions at 801-524-8151.

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