Overcoming Barriers of Transition to College


Recent graduate high-school students usually encounter hardship times when entering college. In order to help young people to overcome barriers that deter their academic performance, educational institutions provide a range of programs to empower students for future challenges. They include guidance counseling, dual enrollment, advanced placement, and international baccalaureate. In addition, students should also seek to independently develop such abilities as note-taking, speaking and writing, time, and stress management. Following these suggestions should lead to seamless students’ transition to post-secondary institutions.


A significant number of adolescents in the U.S. face substantial difficulties when transiting from high school to college. According to Thiry (2019), students’ preparedness for college during graduation from high school is positively associated with the degree of perceived difficulty of classes in post-secondary institutions. However, many youngsters lack sufficient levels of preparation prior to starting their undergraduate programs (Howard et al., 2018). As a result, in 2014, many educational institutions around the country reported that more than half of newly enrolled college students had to take at least one remedial course (Butrymowicz, 2017). For that reason, the actions that would ensure the smooth integration of young people into new realities of undergraduate education should be taken some time before entering college. The students should be aware of best practices that would facilitate the transition process as well as know which personal and professional skills are vital to successfully pursue bachelor degree.

Preparation Assistance Provided by Educational Institutions

One of the most important steps that high-school students can take to increase their preparedness for college is to build good relations with guidance counselors. The latter can assist young people with the planning process for their future careers by clarifying personal interests and ambitions, advising suitable subjects and classes, and providing necessary information regarding existing opportunities. For instance, counselors can provide necessary information regarding government financial aid or available scholarships and explain the application procedure. In this regard, the evidence shows that those students that feel supported and knowledgeable are more likely to pursue post-secondary education and are more prepared for future careers (Paolini, 2019). Moreover, Velez (2020) found that young people who met their school counselors completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) 6.8 times more than students who did not. Therefore, professional guiding can be considered the first and crucial step for successful college readiness and enrollment.

Next, high-school students may enter the courses that would provide undergraduate-level knowledge and help to gain credits for the accomplished subjects once enrolled in college. The available programs to youngsters include dual enrollment, advanced placement, and international baccalaureate (Witkowsky & Clayton, 2020). Those initiatives were specifically designed to help students with transitions to college and, thus, provide great opportunities for future academic advancement. The effectiveness of such courses is evident not only in theory but also in practice. For instance, Kilgore & Wagner (2017) argue that dual enrollment is positively associated with students’ college preparation and reduces the number of students that entered remedial courses. Similarly, Bowers (2016) found that previous dual enrollment and advanced placement experience significantly reduces the retention rate after the first year in college. For that reason, it is highly recommended that college students seek to enroll in one of those programs mentioned above to facilitate their post-secondary education. It is also suggested that young people carefully decide which option would suit their interests the best. Again, necessary courses that can be applied may be discussed with guidance counselors who can provide information about the finest available options.

Personal and Professional Skills

Finally, it is necessary to discuss which professional and personal skills high-school students should seek to develop to succeed in college. First of all, it is necessary to have strong note-taking abilities. It is well known that the teaching style in post-secondary institutions differs from earlier years in school significantly. One of such differences is the lecturing style and speed of the teachers, who will not slow or stop their narration so that every person in the room finishes to “transfer” new material on the paper. Therefore, note-taking skills are of high importance for better productivity. Next, it is crucial to have the ability to speak and write coherently and in a grammatically appropriate manner. Almost on a daily basis college-level assignments demand students to operate with abstract and complex ideas and concepts. For that reason, the ability to express oneself properly is the cornerstone of future academic and career success.

Moreover, the students should know how to organize personal time-table and priorities. According to Duke University (n.d.), many freshmen students struggle to manage their activities properly. As a result, students can lack sleep, be late, disorganized, which would hurt academic performance. Therefore, it is crucial to develop the necessary knowledge and skills before facing the problem. Last but not least, students should know how to manage stress effectively. According to Chadron State College (n.d.), more than 40% of young people can suffer from increased anxiety, affecting health and overall performance. For that reason, high-school students should be familiar with mental and physical practices that would help them to reduce stress.


In summary, the steps that should be taken by high-school students in order to successfully integrate to college life were analyzed. First of all, it was suggested that young people should build a close relationship with advising counselors and regularly meet with the latter. Secondly, students should consider dual enrollment, advanced placement, or international baccalaureate programs that would help them to gain the necessary knowledge and future credits. Moreover, it is suggested that adolescents develop certain personal and professional skills that would enhance their academic performance. They include note-taking, speaking and writing, time-management, and stress-coping abilities.


Bowers, D. E. (2016). Advanced placement and dual enrollment as related to college readiness and retention at a Tennessee university (Publication No. 10307091) [Doctoral dissertation, East Tennessee State University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing

Butrymowicz, S. (2017). Most colleges enroll many students who aren’t prepared for higher education. The Hechinger Report.

Duke University. (n.d.). Common first-year challenges.

Howard, C. M., Moret, L., Faulconer, J., Cannon, T., & Tomlin, A. (2018). Preparing for College Success: Exploring Undergraduate Students’ Perceptions of the Benefits of a College Reading and Study Skills Course through Action Research. Networks: An Online Journal for Teacher Research, 20(1), 1-18.

Kilgore, W., & Wagner, E. (2017). Dual enrollment from two points of view: Higher education and K-12. College and University, 92(3), 57-62.

Paolini, A. C. (2019). School Counselors Promoting College and Career Readiness for High School Students. Journal of School Counseling, 17(2), 1-21.

Thiry, H. (2019). Issues with high school preparation and transition to college. In E. Seymour, A. B. Hunter (Eds.), Talking about Leaving Revisited (pp. 137-147). Springer International Publishing.

Velez, E. D. (2020). How Can High School Counseling Shape Students’ Postsecondary Attendance? Exploring the Relationship between the High School Counseling Context and Students’ Subsequent Postsecondary Enrollment. National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Witkowsky, P., & Clayton, G. (2020). What makes dual enrollment work? High school counselor perspectives. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 44(6), 427-444.

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