Students, counselors challenge the benefits, disadvantages of preparing early for college


Kiersten Riedford

Incoming CHS freshman Keanan Riedford makes pasta. According to Melinda Stephen, College and Careers Programming and Resource Cordinator, cooking is one of the skills students often struggle with.

Kiersten Riedford

With the school year concluded, senior Lina Waseem said she is determined to prepare herself for college before setting foot on campus. According to The Skyline View, college is a place of learning independence as a young adult, where students have to learn how to live on their own and manage academics at the same time. Waseem said she has taken it upon herself to learn important life skills before heading off to college.

She said, “(Before heading off to college) I have been learning how to cook a wider variety of foods and thinking about the different things I’ll need while living in a dorm.”

But, unlike Waseem, senior Nathan Willman said that a majority of the skills one will need to know for college have already been learned in high school. Willman said, “I think Carmel really stresses college readiness and I hope that it pays off and we can see those benefits over our college peers.”

According to Melinda Stephan, College and Careers Programming and Resources Coordinator, many college students struggle the most with developing a routine, rather than academics necessarily, when first living on campus. Stephan said, “Many college students do struggle with life skills like cooking and going to bed at reasonable times, but the thing they tend to struggle the most with is actually going to class.” 

While this can be surprising to many, Stephan said the reason for this is because of a student’s lack of a proper schedule. Stephan said that students who invest in setting a loose schedule for themselves the summer before going to college in the fall will be better off when they begin classes. 

She said, “This is easier said than done, but try to have a summer schedule. And, yes, I understand that we tend to stay up later than usual and sleep in more, but even if it is saying that ‘I will wake up and read a book for an hour’ or trying to work out for an hour, anything works, even if it is a loose schedule, because you are at least trying to focus on having that schedule.”

Waseem agreed with Stephan’s recommendation. “To me, the most important aspect of college is finding a balance and being independent. I think it’s really important to take this time while we’re young and learn how to find a good life balance between school and other things so that way we are setting ourselves up for success later on in life, rather than prioritizing one aspect of life to a fault. I’ve also always looked forward to having more autonomy in my schedule and what I’m studying,” Waseem said. “I’ve been preparing myself to be the best I can be by thinking about what my daily schedule might look like and how to make sure I don’t over-commit myself.”

But, unlike Waseem and Stephan, Willman believes the biggest challenge will be moving away from home, not maintaining a schedule. Willman said, “The most difficult thing about preparing this early (for college) would be not being sure what to prepare for or not being sure what to expect, especially once moving away from home.”

In regard to not knowing what challenges to expect, Stephan said, “I think having that mindset of being proactive and really focusing on what you need to work on (is important). Like if you know you have issues with mental healthlet’s say I have anxiety, and if I know I struggle with that, then I can look to my resources and ask for help when I need it, whether that be from parents or counselors. It also would be the same for any academic struggle a student may have; they need to be proactive and know that they will be able to talk to their professors if they are struggling. Just having that mindset of being proactive is important.”

Waseem said she agreed. She said that preparing early can be tough for scenarios like social situations and mental health issues. “The best part about preparing early is that I’m developing an idea of my strengths and weaknesses and am learning more about myself as a student,” Waseem said. “While I don’t know what exact challenges I’ll face, I’ve talked to my friends (who are in college) about their experiences and I’m confident that whatever it is, I can handle what’s coming my way.”