Navigating Your College Experience Successfully


Education is a transformative journey that empowers individuals to navigate through the world, make sense of their experiences, and find their unique paths. As Mike Rose eloquently states, “A good education helps us make sense of the world and find our way in it” (31). College success extends beyond mere academic achievement. Education can equip us with the tools to understand the intricacies of our surroundings, develop critical thinking skills, and navigate the complexities of our personal and professional lives.
Throughout this part of your textbook, you will explore a range of topics essential for college success. You will learn about transitioning to college, managing time and priorities, developing strong reading and note-taking skills, mastering studying techniques and test-taking strategies, building meaningful relationships, maintaining mental health and managing stress, and ways to plan for the future. Each chapter offers resources, activities, and insights tailored to the specific needs of beginning college students.
By engaging with and embracing the principles and strategies presented in each chapter, you will be well-equipped to navigate the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that come your way during your college journey and beyond.


Two students (one female and one male) sitting at a desk in a library working on hand written drafts.
Image 9.1  When you choose to go to college, you are making a key decision about your future. (Credit: Image by  Ernesto Eslava  from Pixabay used according to CC0.)

Student Survey

How do you feel about your ability to meet the expectations of college? These questions will help you determine how the chapter concepts relate to you right now. As we are introduced to new concepts and practices, it can be informative to reflect on how your understanding changes over time. Take this quick survey to figure it out, ranking questions on a scale of 1 – 4, 1 meaning “least like me” and 4 meaning “most like me.”Don’t be concerned with the results. If your score is low, you will most likely gain even more from this book.

  1. I am fully aware of the expectations of college and how to meet them.
  2. I know why I am in college and have clear goals that I want to achieve.
  3. Most of the time, I take responsibility for my learning new and challenging concepts.
  4. I feel comfortable working with faculty, advisors, and classmates to accomplish my goals.


About This Chapter

In this chapter, you will learn about what you can do to get ready for college. By the time you complete this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Recognize the purpose and value of college.
  • Describe the transitional experience of the first year of college.
  • Discuss how to handle college culture and expectations.
  • List the benefits of adopting a learning mindset.



New Journeys

Adrian Destiny

Adrian has, after much thought and with a high level of family support, decided to enroll in college. It has been a dream in the making, as he was unable to attend immediately after high school graduation. Instead, he worked several years in his family’s business, got married, had a son, and then decided that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life regretting that he didn’t get a chance to follow his dreams of becoming a teacher. Because it has been almost a decade since he sat in a classroom, he is worried about how he will fit in as an adult learner returning to college. Will his classmates think he is too old? Will his professors think he is not ready for the challenges of college work? Will his family get tired of his long nights at the library and his new priorities? There is so much Adrian is unsure of, yet he knows it’s a step in the right direction.

It has been only three months since Destiny graduated from high school. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her class, and she earned college credit while in high school. She feels academically prepared, and she has a good sense of what degree she wants to earn. Since Destiny was 5 years old, she’s wanted to be an engineer because she loved building things in the backyard with her father’s tools. He always encouraged her to follow her dreams, and her whole family has been supportive of her hobbies and interests. However, Destiny is concerned that her choice of major will keep her from dance, creative writing, and other passions. Furthermore, Destiny is heading to a distant college with no other people she knows. Will she be able to find new friends quickly? Will her engineering classes crush her or motivate her to complete college? Will she be able to explore other interests? Madison has a lot on her mind, but she aims to face these challenges head-on.

While Adrian and Destiny have had different experiences before and certainly have different motivations for enrolling in college, they have quite a bit in common. They are both committed to this new chapter in their lives, and they are both connected to their families in ways that can influence their commitment to this pursuit. What they don’t know just yet—because they haven’t started their classes—is that they will have even more in common as they move through each term, focus on a major, and plan for life after graduation. And they have a lot in common with you as well because you are in a similar position—starting the next journey in your life.

In this chapter, you will first learn more about identifying the reason you are in college. This is an important first step because knowing your why will keep you motivated. Next, the chapter will cover the transitions that you may experience as a new college student. Then, the chapter will focus on how you can acclimate to the culture and meet the expectations—all of which will make the transition to a full-fledged college student easier. Adopting a growth mindset is covered next and will provide you with research-based information that can help you develop the beliefs and habits that will result in success. Finally, the chapter will provide you with strategies for overcoming the challenges that you may face by providing information about how to find and access resources.


Works Cited

Rose, Mike. Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us. The New Press, 2014.


Creative Commons License

Navigating Your College Experience Successfully” by Rachael Reynolds is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and adapted work from the source below:



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