Transitioning from high school to college is a big life event that most high school seniors, including myself, will be experiencing in a couple of months. Until now, many young students have remained under their parents’ wing, not having to worry about cooking food, completing household tasks, or paying bills. International and foreign schools in Korea, which have low student-teacher ratios, give their students focused help with academics and extracurriculars, and it is relatively easy for those students to find ways to tackle any academic difficulties they face. While my older sister has undergone similar experiences as I have, she emphasizes her college experience was incomparable to life in high school. In preparation for my upcoming experience, I decided to interview my sister regarding the questions I, and possibly many other students in Korea, have about transitioning from high school to college.
Yenah Jang, a past Herald Insight & Tomorrow student journalist, is a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in political science and media studies. When I asked her what the most challenging experience at college was, she said it was the freedom that she suddenly had in her hands, and the responsibilities that followed any action she took. She said, “While high school life felt organized and under control because I was living with my parents, I had a hard time balancing school with my personal and social life.” She advised that it was important to develop time management and organization skills in advance to truly achieve the “work hard, play hard” life many aspire to at college.
“Reaching out for help and guidance” was another strong suggestion that Jang made, especially as a student attending a state university with a high student-teacher ratio. “While getting academic help was easy in high school because it was almost spooned to me, no one really cares about your academic performance in university unless you start failing,” she warned. To this point, she advised to build positive relationships with peers and senior students in the same major, and to not be afraid of reaching out to the university’s career and academic centers, and even professors, for any kind of help. “Indeed, peer tutoring really helped me improve my academic writing skills,” she added.
|[Yenah Jang (in the upper left corner) Networking at Pre-Law Professional Fraternity “Sigma Alpha Nu.”
Photo credit: Yenah Jang]
What about life outside of college? To this, Jang responded that “adulting is still a learning process” for her as well. Due to the sheer number of students at Cal, Jang lives off campus in an apartment with her friend; she thus has to cook, clean, and take care of herself alongside managing her academic performance. She also added that she is an American citizen who must pay taxes and vote. “Again, my upperclassmen friends and my university’s ‘adulting’ DeCal courses, non-graded and for-credit courses run by students, helped me a lot while having to figure things out by myself,” Jang said. “However in terms of household chores, you’ll have a big advantage if you make them a habit instead of putting them off until you actually have to do them.”
|[UC Berkeley Student Dorm. Photo credit: Yenah Jang]|
When asked if she had any final words for current, soon-to-graduate high school students, Jang said, “A lot of the problems I faced when getting used to college were resolved when I finally reached out for help.” She added that, “While it may seem like you’re the only one facing these challenges, your peers are equally as lost as you are.” Thus, she encouraged peer counseling for emotional and mental support whenever help is needed.
Following Jang’s advice, I plan on preparing myself for my upcoming college life: from doing basic household chores to participating in freshmen orientation activities. As an introvert who is used to hanging out with the same, small group of friends, my biggest goal in college is to step out of my comfort zone to get to know other students of diverse backgrounds, especially after learning about the importance of socializing and networking. As this interview was helpful for me, I hope my fellow (and lost) seniors can take these pieces of advice into consideration before starting the next chapter of their life in college.
Hajin Jang firstname.lastname@example.org
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