Whether you are researching, touring or already admitted to a university campus, you still have time to gather information about what you can do to be successful academically at the post-secondary level.

Throughout this series of articles , we are exploring the characteristics successful college students have as well as the challenges they face when entering post-secondary education. We are also providing suggestions from University of Nebraska campus experts about specific skills you can work to acquire now.

As a full- or part-time University of Nebraska High School student, you are practicing strategies that will make the academic transition to university easier. Through UNHS courses you learn to:

  • Study independently.
  • Organize and manage your time.
  • Find internal motivation.
  • Seek out resources and assistance.

Patrick McBride, Director of New Student Enrollment at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, listed these as well as other skills students should gain during high school to prepare for college such as:

  • Awareness of your performance
  • Persistence with difficult tasks
  • Leadership in a variety of settings
  • Development and use of study groups
  • Collaboration and working as team

“It is an attitude—one must be determined to be successful,” McBride said. “Determined to master the material and seek help when unsure of the material. Most students will be challenged academically like never before and expectations will be higher. Being active, not passive with your success is essential."

Dusten Crichton, Director of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Thompson Learning Community, has helped students transition into college study for more than 15 years. In his experience, successful students:

  • Use the syllabus. The syllabus is your road map to the class and should be read regularly and referred to often. This is similar to UNHS’ course introductions.
  • Work hard early. Effort makes all the difference. Don’t put off assignments until the day before they are due. This just adds unneeded stress and will not produce high-quality work.
  • Practice often. In college, studying is like practicing for a sport, Crichton said. You have to do it early and often to prepare for the “game,” which is the test. Students generally cannot see or hear the information once and get it, so they must practice the information over and over again.

Finally, Amy Rundstrom, Associate Director of Academic and Career Services at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, emphasized the time commitment college courses require.

Though you may only be in a class for 3 hours of your week, typically, you will be expected to spend at least six hours outside of that class studying and working with the material to be successful. That could be a significant time increase from what you are currently spending with your UNHS or traditional high school courses, so start mentally preparing now.

With these specific suggestions covered, the next big question you may be asking is, “How do I pick my major?"

Kelly Malone, Assistant Director of Dual Enrollment at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, insisted that students should not feel pressured to choose a major and minor upon entrance to a university.

“You should be able to explore your options by taking different courses, doing assessments and visiting with Career Centers to discuss your likes and dislikes,” she said. “But you do need to be aware of the length of time some majors and minors require to complete. For example, a medical degree will extend well past the four-year undergraduate degree."

To start narrowing the scope of options, Crichton suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do I like to do?
  • What am I already good at?
  • What would I like to do?
  • What would I like to be good at?

“Once you have a sense of where you are with these questions, start exploring majors that fit these truths,” he said.

Some of your exploration can also begin with UNHS’ career resources and career courses.

Though college academics will be more challenging and time consuming, they will also be enlightening.


"A higher education can change your life like no other experience. Life is about hard work and college is a great place to learn how to work hard but also enjoy life. Remember, four to five years will go by quickly, so get the most out of college by making it a priority."Dusten Crichton