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You Got Into College—Now What?

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

This article was originally written and published by Rose Wong in 2020.


You should be very proud of yourself. This marks a major milestone in your life and the culmination of all your hard work and learning, especially in the past four years. Whether or not you are attending your “dream school” next year, getting into college is an accomplishment in and of itself. (If you need help deciding on a school, read this.) From standardized testing and supplement essays to family expectations and peer pressure, the college application process can be one of the most stressful experiences many students have ever faced, and guess what?

You’re DONE. I hope you have given yourself several pats on the back, if not also a good cry in your room.

While it is important to have some fun now that you’re not overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the next four years of your life, you still need to keep your grades up (oh, you’ve heard this before? Well, probably because it’s true). Even though a couple Bs would not be an issue, a previously A transcript becoming primarily Bs and Cs could cause some concern. Colleges have rescinded acceptances due to significant grade drops, and will continue to do so. (Note: Grades aren’t the only reason schools have changed their minds about students. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your fun grandma to know.)

Furthermore, we often focus so much on getting the acceptance that we don’t talk enough about preparing for life in college. I remember arriving at Duke four years ago and feeling overwhelmed and perhaps unprepared. In various ways, college will be more challenging. For some, it may be academic. Winging it might have been feasible through high school, but success in college requires legitimate study and organization skills. Now may be the time to start researching and developing those practices. For others, as it was for myself, it may be more personal. College is a time of life-altering transitions—leaving home, moving into a completely new environment, living with strangers, taking hold of more freedom than you have ever experienced in your life, and answering some big questions about your identity and future.

Before Duke, I was under intense pressure from my family and school to meet high expectations, but I had never developed healthy practices to manage the stress and take care of my mental health. As a result, I arrived at college without the proper toolbox to deal with the heightened anxieties of growing up or to heal my mind after years of putting achievement above all else.

This is some advice I would’ve given myself: Use the several months that you have before college to start looking inwards. What does that mean? Keep a journal. Reflect on how you feel, your experiences and what you want. Get into meditation (It’ll take practice). Follow therapists on Instagram. Discover healthy coping mechanisms that work for you. Now is the time to start practicing mindfulness and building up your mental health’s immune system, before college hits.

This acceptance is just the beginning. You will take off and soar to very high heights!

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