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For those of you who don’t know, a pre-collegiate program is geared towards incoming freshman to not only help with the transition from high school to college but can also contain a subject specific purpose including academics, service, diversity, athletics, and more. This program usually is 1-2 weeks long and ends a few days before school officially starts. To participate in these programs you usually have to fill out a short application (acceptance is not guaranteed) and pay a small fee which can be waived if needed. If you are staying on campus you have the option to move in early and free meals will be included for you as provided by the program.

1. Become familiar with the campus

Though universities usually have multiple early start programs taking place at the same time there will be nowhere as many students on campus as there will be when school actually starts. Participating in an early start program gives you time to become familiar with the campus as well as become more comfortable without the chaos of the very first day. Though you probably will still have some nerves the first day of the program it wont be as intimidating as the very first day of classes when there are thousands of confused freshman scrambling all over campus trying to find their classes. This is the perfect time to explore the entire campus with other students and at least once by yourself. You should also do a trial run of finding your classes, important places like the library, dining hall, and athletic center.

2. Establish a group of friends

I’m not saying that the people you meet during these two weeks will be your friends all four years but I am saying the people you meet here will become an important part of your college experience. You will spend two weeks filled with long days and icebreakers with this group of people and you will come away from it feeling like you have people to hang with once classes officially start. That first day of college can be very intimidating and you’ll have so many questions but having 30 plus other students numbers who you can text at any time, meet up with, find yourself in classes with will make the transition so much more enjoyable and less stressful.

3. Get inside information

At some point during these programs you will always 1. Do a test run of what it’s like to be in a lecture/class 2. Get advice from upperclassmen and 3. Advice from professors. This will be a tremendous help once you actually start classes and approach midterms. Unlike freshman who did not do an early start program you will know all the hangouts, all the secrets to a busy social life, all the professors you should and shouldn’t take, what professors expect and do not like, plus so much more.

4. Have a support group

I already mentioned how doing an early start program can create friend groups but it also can create a great support foundation with professors, administrators, and other important adults at the University. These programs exist to make the college transition and experience easier. One of the main things these programs stress is that if there’s any problems you may have or if you just need a place to go to you can always rely on your program family. There isn’t a lot of individual attention in college – though it is possible with small colleges – and can be hard to find adults who know you as a person and really care. By establishing these relationships early you have people who can offer advice, recommendations, job opportunities, and special attention to you because you’ve made that connection.

I hope this article either persuaded you to look into pre-collegiate programs or encouraged you to go forward with it if you already had plans.Make sure to check your schools website for pre-collegiate programs you can participate in as soon as possible as they tend to fill up quickly. Good luck!

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