If you are considering an on-campus college experience, there is more to research and prepare for than academics.

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.

When it comes to transitioning from home to campus, there are some basic life skills Dusten Crichton, Director of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Thompson Learning Community, suggests:


  1. Learn how to budget your money.
  2. Learn how to manage your time.
  3. Learn how to develop healthy relationships.

“Learn how to enjoy college life without it becoming a distraction to academics,” he said. “You can have a ‘life’ in college and also do very well academically, if you learn how to balance everything."

That balance ties to the new “sense of freedom” Amy Rundstrom, Associate Director of Academic and Career Services at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, referenced when she said: “The level of personal responsibility you have at college makes things especially different from high school. In college, you own your choices—to get out of bed, to go to class, to do homework. Sometimes you have people there to push you, but most of the time it’s all you.

Not having a direct personal sense of accountability can make the freedom to choose result in a freedom to fail."

To get acclimated to your new-found freedom and the on-campus environment, Rundstrom suggests:

  • Be the person you want to be in college. You’re entering a whole new world, most of the people in that world don’t know the old you, so take advantage of it and be who you want to be.
  • Find “your people.” There are so many opportunities to meet new, interesting people from different parts of the state, the country and the world. Get to know them!
  • Get involved. This is a great way to start gaining some important transferrable skills that employers will be looking for.

Patrick McBride, Director of New Student Enrollment for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, added some specifics to Rundstrom’s list:

  1. Join at least two student organizations.
  2. Live on campus if at all possible.

While everyone’s situations, goals and abilities are different, all new students to the campus will be experiencing change, so prepare yourself to embrace it and look for the positives.

"Remember, it's not always about the destination. Sometimes it's about what you learn on the journey. College is a journey—keep the destination in sight, but remember that sometimes you learn more when you take a detour."Amy Rundstrom, Associate Director of Academic and Career Services, University of Nebraska at Kearney